A triple feature of Roger Corman produced drive- in films, this action packed collection is a veritable threesome of car chases, hot chicks, snappy dialogue and groaningly bad comedy - now available remastered and in one handy dandy set! Like a lot of Corman's drive-in pictures, these three films are a good bit of fun. Here's a look:
The Great Texas Dynamite Chase:
Directed by Michael Pressman in 1976, this film follows Candy (Claudia Jennings), who is just about the sexiest prisoner you've ever laid eyes on. She busts out of the big house and the winds up even further on the wrong side of the law when she robs a bank. She's not all bad news though - her motives were pure, you see she robbed that bank to give the money to her family who are in danger of losing their home as they just don't have the money to make the payments. Feeling pretty good about doing this, Candy then teams up with one of the bank tellers, Ellie Jo (Jocelyn Jones), who encourages her to do more of this type of thing. Before you know it, Ellie Jo is the Little John to Candy's Robin Hood and the two are tearing around the countryside using dynamite and cleavage to rob banks and avoid the law.
As their crime spree continues, they wind up in a bad spot and have to take a man named Slim (Johnny Crawford) as a hostage. It doesn't take long before he's won over by their charms, however, and he soon finds himself the third member of their crew. The police, however, are none too happy about any of this and are incessantly ratcheting up the heat on Candy and her pals.
While this isn't much more than a low budget Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid knock off with breasts, it's still a fun watch. Claudia Jennings may not have been the most enthusiastic woman to ever walk the silver screen but she's got presence and deserves credit for that. She's got a mischievous way about her in this picture that makes her right for the part and her camaraderie with Jocelyn Jones and Johnny Crawford ensure that our three antiheroes are worth spending ninety minutes with. Pressman manages to cram in enough wanton sex to keep things marginally steamy and if none of it is particularly believable or original you won't mind so much. It plays to drive-in movie clichés in a big way but that's half the fun of the picture. It's predictable in its ending and in its morality but we get enough action and humor and skin to make up for that. This was director Pressman's directorial debut. He'd go on to work in television a lot and to direct Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze. Neat, huh?
A made for TV movie that Daniel Haller directed in 1980, Georgia Peaches (or, as the title card here indicates, Follow That Car - an alternate title it played theaters under overseas) obviously tones things down a bit from the first film in the T&A department. The movie stars Dirk Benedict as a race car driver named Dusty who lives with his hot girlfriend, Sue Lynn Peach (played by Terri Nunn of Berlin!) - together they run a garage. They live a pretty cozy life together until an evil businesswoman named Vivian Stark (Sally Kirkland) decides she wants to build a car dealership on their land. Stark approaches Sue Lynn about making a deal but you know she isn't going to sell, so Stark resorts to less noble tactics to get her way. Things take an interesting turn when Sue Lynn's sister, Lorette (Tanya Tucker - seriously!), shows up having just finished her latest musical career moves and now in need of a break.
Not so surprisingly, Dusty and Sue Lynn soon find themselves the recipients of some unwanted and unwarranted police attention. The fuzz show up regularly and start finding hot cars on the property and soon throw the two in the slammer. A man who works for the U.S. Government lets them out, but only on the condition that they help him uncover and bust up a smuggling ring operating in the area.
Obviously playing it safe and made for the standards of 1980s TV broadcast, this film doesn't really amount to much in the grand scheme of things. Made as a pilot for a series that never got off the ground, it's entertaining enough and interesting thanks to some bizarre casting choices, but not really all that more memorable than, say, your average episode of The Fall Guy. The film does earn some pretty serious bonus points for casting the eternally sexy Terri Nunn opposite the eternally bleach blonde Tanya Tucker and Sally Kirkland is fairly easy on the eyes and a fine choice for the antagonist. Dirk Benedict sort of walks through the whole thing though, not really doing much to make the role his own or to make us care.
In the end it's a moderately entertaining and completely entertaining G-rated slice of predictability, but Corman enthusiasts will appreciate having it in their collection, and yeah, Terri Nunn. Yowza.
Smokey Bites The Dust:
Last but not least is this Charles B. Griffith film from 1981 starring Jimmy McNichol as a teenage nogoodnik named Roscoe who winds up winning the heard of the high school homecoming queen, Peggy Sue (Janet Julian). They take off together in Roscoe's car, much to the dismay of Peggy Sue's father, Sheriff Turner (Walter Barnes) and her boyfriend, a football player named Kenny (William Forsythe). Roscoe's not so bright pal Harold (John Blythe Barrymore - and yes he is related) also wants to figure out what's going on and so before you know it, the cops and those who would put a stop to Roscoe and Peggy Sue's whirlwind romance are chasing them around the state trying to catch them before they take off to God knows where.
Short on plot and obviously influenced by a series of Burt Reynolds movies made a few years earlier, Smokey Bites The Dust really has only the slimmest of storylines to latch on to but it makes Roscoe and Peggy Sue likeable enough that you at least want to see how this all plays out. Some interesting casting choices keep the entertainment value high on this one, with a young William Forsythe standing out and Walter Barnes doing his best to chew through as much of the scenery as he can. Janet Julian, who has popped up in everything from Ferrara's The King Of New York to the Swamp Thing TV series is just about as cute as you could hope for while Jimmy McNichol is fine, if surprisingly vapid, as the dream guy.
The jokes are not only predictable but telegraphed at you from a mile away. The soundtrack is as corny as it gets and the production values are as cheapjack as expected. The dialogue is awful and many of the car chase sequences use footage that was quite obviously sped up for effect. The whole thing is a big stinker of a movie, really, but it's got heart. Griffith proved with Grand Theft Auto that he knew how to shoot car chases and there's some good excitement here from those scenes despite their shortcomings. Smokey Bites The Dust is bad on most traditional levels but you can't help but enjoy this one, it's just good lighthearted escapism.
The Great Texas Dynamite Chase and Georgia Peaches both look pretty good in film sourced 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen transfers, while Smokey Bites The Dust looks just slightly rougher in 1.33.1 fullframe. As far as the aspect ratios go, the framing seems fine for all three films, there are no cut off heads or missing text in the credits sequences. Detail is pretty decent for a trio of older films and while some minor print damage is present throughout as are sporadic moments of heavy grain, the discs are fairly well authored. Some minor compression artifacts do pop up but you probably won't notice them if you're not being anal retentive about it. These are old movies meant for a dive-in audience, and they look it, but that's not a bad thing. Shout! has done a fine job here.
It's English language Dolby Digital Mono across the board here. These no frills tracks aren't going to win any awards but generally they sound fine. There are a couple of spots where you might notice some minor hiss but aside from that expect properly balanced levels, clear dialogue and nice sounding scores throughout. If the movies are periodically a little on the flat side, it's not a big deal - again, these tracks would seem to accurately reflect the films' theatrical sound, you can't really fault this release for that.
While most of the Corman releases from Shout! Factory have been packed with extras, this set contains only trailers for The Great Texas Dynamite Chase and Smokey Bites The Dust. Menus and chapter stops are included and a paper insert has a brief paragraph on the films from Corman on one side and images of other Corman releases on the opposite side.
These may not be the best of the Roger Corman titles that Shout! Factory has released so far in their run, but they're still a lot of fun. The presentations are pretty decent and if we don't get a boatload of extra features this time around, well, we get three movies instead. It's kind of hard to complain about that once you put it in perspective. Fans of 70s drive-in cinema can absolutely consider this one recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.