Friday, September 19, 2014

Drive In Massacre, William Castle would be Proud

The much maligned "Drive In Massacre," which hit the drive ins in 1977, is actually very under-rated.  I saw this movie with my dad at the drive-in theater in West Roxbury, Massachusetts..and we had so much fun.  This film marked the first time I had ever seen a least on film.  As for 1977, this was an infinitely better film than "Annie Hall" or "The Goodbye Girl."  Only 74 minutes in length, the actors in this flick ply their trade better than Diane Keaton did in her 1970s movies.  Available on YouTube, in less than average quality, fans of the Drive In genre have to see this movie.
 The plot:  An attractive couple, in their car at a drive-in, is engaging in heavy petting which is leading to pre-marital sex.  The idiot boyfriend breaks his lip lock on his babe because he is suddenly interested in the film. As he reaches for a speaker, a maniac slices his head off with a sword.  When his rejected girlfriend screams, she gets the same sword through her neck (see picture below). Detective Koch ( Bruce Kimball) and Detective Leary (John F. Goff) are assigned the case and visit the crime scene.  They meet the theater manager Austin Johnson (Robert E. Pearson), an Anton Lavey wannabe.  Johnson hates everyone, and in true 1970s vernacular, loves to call people "pukes." Twas a poetic time, the 1970s was!  The detectives also meet Germy (Douglas Gudbye), the weird janitor.  Germy is their first suspect, as in his former job he was a sword-swallower at a carnival.
Completely unsympathetic to his nymphomaniac clientele, Johnson keeps the drive in open.  The next night, a married man and his mistress are getting it on in their car when our maniac from the morality police shish-kabobs them with a sword.  The detectives now consider Johnson a suspect, too.  Apparently Johnson was also a sword-swallower, before he became a barker at that same carnival.  The plot thickens as our detective duo (see picture below) identify a peeping-tom who was seen near the cars in which the couples were murdered.  After interrogating Johnson, one detective remarks, "They may have closed the carnival, but the freaks are still hanging around, and we just talked to the choicest one."  As our conclusion approaches, the detectives go undercover at the drive-in, and of course, our killer also shows up.  
Some suggest the Peter Bogdanovice film "Targets" (Boris Karloff's final film) inspired "Drive In Massacre."  However, the ending just oozes of William Castle films.  Directed by Stu Segall, this film sought to involve the audience in the film...a la William Castle's "The Tingler."  After seeing the movie, I couldn't wait to go back to school on Monday and tell all my friends about it.  When describing the kills to my friends in home room, for the only time in my junior high school career, I had everyone's attention.  

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