Drive-In Massacre (1976) [Blu-Ray]

Stu Segall’s attempt at a horror movie is only seventy minute in length but feels like it goes on for an eternity. Resembling a really cheap and gory cop drama, “Drive In Massacre” is painfully paced and poorly plotted with a tone that is literally all over the place. Sometimes it’s a slasher, sometimes a murder mystery, sometime it tries to be a true crime drama, and other times, it opts for comedy. How are we supposed to take our heroes at all seriously when, in an effort to infiltrate the murderer targeting drive in couples, one of the officers decides to dress up as a woman? What is the intent behind “Drive-In Massacre”? Are we supposed to consider it a satire that was way ahead of its time? Was the director aiming for something in the vein of “The Town that Dreaded Sundown,” except it’s all confined to a local drive in?

“Drive-In Massacre” feels like one of those cheapy horror movies made for the sole intent on creating a gimmicky cinematic novelty for drive in audiences. The movie even ends with the pseudo-dramatic warning about the killer never being found, followed by a mock announcer warning audiences in the drive in to lock their doors and look out for the murderer. It seems like a noble intent to add some spice to the drive in experience, but I think even in the seventies “Drive-In Massacre” would have come off as strictly a forced attempt at a gimmick and nothing more. I’ve literally seen ten minute films with more of a narrative than “Drive-In Massacre.” At a local drive in, someone has taken to mutilating kissing couples with knifes and swords. Despite the vicious murders, the owner of the drive in refuses to close it down, since he insists he’s making money hand over fist.

Oddly only two police officers are on the case, attempting to track down the mysterious murder and end their reign of terror. This involves walking around, getting in to a lot of tedious conversations, and fumbling around like the keystone cops. Along the way director Segall stages some nifty and vicious murder sequences, all of which feel terribly out of place when you realize he opts for a more crime drama aesthetic where there are only three vicious murders, with the rest of the movie devoted to our two bumbling detectives. The direction is god awful with horrific pacing, hideous editing, and a climax that resolves nothing, and is so cheap its attempt at ambiguity and suspense feels like a cop out. Maybe some horror buffs will appreciate the attempted novelty behind “Drive-In Massacre,” but it’s a chore to sit through and too tedious to appreciate the exploitative aesthetic.

The release from Severin films is fantastic and features a newly restored cut of “Drive-In Massacre” with a widescreen format. There is also reversible cover art for the respective collector. In the Blu-Ray there’s a two minute trailer for the original film, and three interviews. There’s an interview with co-screenwriter / actor John F. Goff titled “Drive-In Days” which clocks in at sixteen minutes. The second interview titled “Norm Sheridan Recalls Drive-In Massacre” is an eleven minute talk with the actor who plays Orville. The third and final interview title “Making the Massacre” is with director Stu Segall, who discusses his work as a filmmaker, making a transition from director to producing TV, and other low budget exploitation films. There’s an audio commentary with director Stu Segall, who discusses the cast and crew, how he worked on four films simultaneously including “Drive-In Massacre,” as well as his thoughts on them. Finally there’s an Easter Egg with a trailer for “CB Hustlers.”