There’s an attitude that’s prevalent in many eighties movies. It’s the free spirited, if not rebellious nature that is hard to find in movies nowadays, even the ones that are clearly homage to them. I was born in the eighties, therefore didn’t really get to experience it or can claim to have grown up during the time. Grasping from what I see in the movies, it looked like it was either incredibly fun or incredibly dangerous. Movies like THE LOST BOYS and RETURN OF THE LIVING DEADmade being a teenager back then look exciting and unpredictable. With this unpredictability comes some of the most bizarre genre films that might not have been hundred million dollar hits, but left enough impression for companies like Arrow to release restored versions with updated special features for those hungry fans. I recently found two of those releases in my lap, neither of which I had seen or heard of so I was instantly excited to watch something I perceived to be fresh.
DEAD END DRIVE-IN is one that completely falls into that rebellious eighties attitude. Set in a dystopian future (before that was the thing to do), a young couple find themselves in an unexpected scenario that they need to escape from. Jimmy and Carmen head out to a drive-in theater for a date night and his tires get stolen during the date, leaving them stranded. Jimmy also had made the mistake of informing an employee that he is unemployed and as it turns out this drive-in is a place where young rejects of society are placed and held prisoner. While their need to leave is the primary concern, their stay forces them to learn the ways of the drive-in and the racist mentality they inhabit.
MICROWAVE MASSACRE falls more into the bizarre category of the eighties if you couldn’t tell just by reading the title. Construction worker, Jimmy, is a nice guy, but deals with a belittling wife who cooks awful meals for him. To top it off, she recently bought an obnoxiously large microwave oven that makes food even worse. Dealing with his sleazy co-workers and coming home to her eventually gets to his head and Donald ends up killing his wife. He wakes up the next morning, hangover style, not remembering what he did until he stumbles onto her dead body in the microwave. Being the oddball he is, he cuts her up and covers the pieces in foil. One night, he accidentally eats her and finds it to be quite the delicious snack. This starts his venture into cannibalism as he lures prostitutes into his home only for them to end up as his next meal.
Arrow Video has brought back these two releases for their individual followings. It would be interesting to find out if both share the same fans as they are completely different movies, but Arrow obviously saw something that their customer base would be interested in and invested a pretty penny into. MICROWAVE MASSACRE includes 20 minutes worth of interviews with Craig Muckler, Wayne Berwick, and Loren Schein as well as an audio commentary with Muckler. In addition to a 2K scan, MICROWAVE MASSACRE comes with an essay booklet that contains stills and transfer information. DEAD END DRIVE-IN gives us some of director Brian Trenchard-Smith’s previous works as well as a commentary with him. Another scanned in 2K transfer, DEAD END DRIVE-INlooks pristine and fans will find themselves happy with Arrow’s release.