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[Blu-ray Review] Severin Films Takes a Stab at ‘Drive-In Massacre’

A few months back I wrote about Drive-In Massacre, a delightfully strange 70’s slasher. It’s one of those movies that you’re likely to find on one of those bargain box sets that contains 50 movies on 5 DVDs and runs you about $10. The picture quality on the films contained within those sets are almost always terrible as are most of the movies, but if you watch them all you’re bound to find a few gems. Drive-In Massacre isn’t one of those gems, but it is enjoyable and last year 88 Films pulled it from the trash heap and gave it a quality Blu-ray release.

I enjoy the 88 Films release but it’s region B so if you’re in the United States and don’t have a region-fre player you’re out of luck. At least you were out of luck. Severin Films has stepped in and given the movie a region A Blu-ray release and it’s pretty damn good.

The premise is pretty simple – a lunatic is killing people at the local drive-in. Two detectives working the case have various leads but keeping hitting a dead end. When the unravel the mystery they’re shocked by what they find.

When you break the plot down to its most basic form, like I just did, it doesn’t really sound much like a slasher but rather a gritty 70’s police thriller. The more I think about Drive-In Massacre the more I think maybe director Stu Segall was trying to make a police flick but his natural instincts for sleaze took over. It’s worth noting that Segall does a commentary track for the film on the Severin release but I haven’t listened to it yet, so whether or not he discusses anything similar to this theory of mine I don’t know.

I should also point out that linking Segall to sleaze is not intended as an insult. I love sleazy, trashy slashers. I talk about them all the time. So sleaze is typically a compliment in this scenario. Also, Segall directed a number of porno flicks and was a producer on Silk Stockings so he has a strong background in sleaze.

And now back to the movie…

Drive-In Massacre is an incredibly flawed movie. Most notably is the acting which isn’t particular good. In defense of the actors, the dialogue is atrocious so they don’t have much to work with. On the plus side, everyone gives it their all, putting their best foot forward and that counts for something.

The production value is also incredibly cheap. Just another perk when you’re making a sleazy movie. This is mostly fine but the gore is used sparingly, particularly for a movie of this ilk. The movie starts off with a wicked punch though as a couple making out at the drive-in are attacked by a dude with a sword.  The boyfriend loses his head, the girlfriend takes the sword through the throat. The gore in this scene is awesome, but it lets up after that.

In my review of the 88 Films Blu-ray I mentioned how the picture quality looked like the print they were working with was a bit rough. That release still looks pretty solid, but it is rough. I am very pleased to say that Severin developed a better transfer. Both companies used the same elements but Severin handled them better. The US release from Severin offers up more clarity and detail. The blacks are blacker and the colors pop. This trash film now has a release that doesn’t look like trash.

The Severin release special features selections differs a bit from 88 Films, offering up a trailer, the aforementioned commentary with Segall, an interview with Segall and interviews with writer/co-star John F. Goff and actor Norman Sheridan. The interviews with Goff she Sheridan are not available on the 88 Films releases, but on the flip side, 88 Films have a few bonus features that Severin doesn’t.

If you’re a fan of this quirky little slasher you’re in luck because you have two good Blu-ray options. If you’re a super fan you’d probably want both to get all the bonus content but if you had to choose just one to be the copy you own then you have to go with the Severin release. The picture quality on the Severin Blu-ray release of Drive-In Massacre is top notch, making it the Blu-ray to own.

Drive-In Massacre is now available on Blu-ray from Severin Films. 


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