'RANDY QUAID GAVE ME MY TRAINING WHEELS' TWO-FER!Peter Wener's NO MAN'S LAND (1987, Roku/TUBI, 106 min.) for the first time.DING! DING! DING! DIRECT HIT! A slick cops and car robbers L.A. drama that lands smack in the middle of the Michael Mann "Thief"-through-"Heat" quality scale, "No Man's Land" showcases producer/writer Dick Wolf (who brings his early "Law & Order" star George Dzundza for a small but important role) and producer Ron Howard (who started his directorial career doing 'B' car flicks for Roger Corman) showing off their credentials. Undercover cop/car enthusiast D.B. Sweeney (looking/acting an awful lot like James Spader) befriends rich luxury car repair owner Ted Varrick (Charlie Sheen, in the middle of a good run of 80's parts ranging from "Platoon" and "Wall Street" to "Young Guns" and "Eight Men Out"), whom Sweeney's boss (Randy Quaid in cop-on-the-edge mode) is convinced murdered his best friend while they were investigating Varrick's on-the-side chop-chop business. As Varrick seduces Benjy into the wild side of the L.A. glitzy scene (where everyone just drives Porsches and Corvettes like you and I drive Chevys and Hondas), the latter is quite taken by Ted's sister (Larra Harris, pretty but white-bread bland) and her genuine concern for her brother's well being.While you've seen this same cop's-divided-loyalty routine done many times before and better, "No Man's Land" isn't any less compelling and engrossing than "Internal Affairs," "The Departed," "Donnie Brasco," etc. Acting is strong across the board (Sweeney is good but Sheen has movie star charisma to burn as a rich boy who just likes breaking the law for the hell of it), some car stunts/flips look spectacular (though the movie is more character than vehicle-driven) and the direction by TV veteran Peter Werner solid and workmanlike. No idea why I've never heard of this one before, which is the point of Junesploitation! Come for the L.A. nighttime car thieves circus, stay for the interesting acting choices made by familiar faces (M. Emmet Walsh, Bill Duke, etc.) playing the same old tunes and making them stand out. 4 VALETS WITH CLUBS CHASING AFTER PORSCHE PIRATES (out of 5). Tony Scott's DAYS OF THUNDER (1990, Blu-ray, 107 min.)Didn't feel like thinking too hard. Plus "Top Gun: Maverick" dedicating the film to Tony Scott and the fact both movies were scored by Hans Zimmer (though the Zimmer from 32 years ago sounds nothing like today) made me want to revisit "Days of Thunder." Randy Quaid isn't the father figure/mentor to Tom Cruise's Cole Trickle hot shot racer (Robert Duvall does the honors), but he's a slick salesman that gets Duvall back into NASCAR's good graces and lands the team a sponsorship deal (Melow Yellow, which you can still get at some Wendy's soda machines here in Midtown Manhattan) when they're down on their luck. "Days of Thunder" is practically a 'B' side repeat of "Top Gun's" 'A' track, only with (a) then-young Nicole Kidman making a far more interesting love interest because of her off-screen romance with Cruise and (b) a murderer's row of character actors (Margo Martindale, Cary Elwes, Fred Thompson, Michael Rooker, etc.) livening every other scene. You can do a lot worse with either Tom Cruise formula pics ("Cocktail") or Tony Scott joints ("Man on Fire," "Domino," etc.). 3 IMPROVISED HOSPITAL WHEELCHAIR RACES (out of 5).
Welcome back!Also, how the hell do you manage to watch so many movies????
Glad you're able to post again. I was having a similar problem yesterday. I even created a whole new Google account and it still wouldn't stick. This morning I cut out about half of the mini-review and it didn't immediately disappear. I'm not sure if there was a word or phrase that was censoring it out?
Also, did you just dis Man On Fire? wtf. (kidding, but seriously, wtf).
Forget Man on Fire, what about dissing Domino? (jk, obvs)
Cannonball (1976 – Paul Bartel)This movie has been the most fun I had with a presumably bad movie for a long time. The great Heath Holland wrote a piece on Cannonball for this site back in 2018, and I cannot agree more: It is a car crash all over. The acting isn’t great, the fighting isn’t compelling, the story is weird, the characters over the top (especially the northern German stereotype that you see barely in US movies who drop lines in the style of: “What a beautiful country. If we had won the war, this would be Germany” - yikes ). The strength I actually see lies in the beautiful cars racing through the 70s-US-countryside. If you have a soft spot for muscle cars of the 60s and 70s, this is for you. It carried me through the movie, in which I could laugh a lot. It was fun.
Locke (2013)Thought I needed a break from all the carnage and mayhem so decided to chuck on this A24 drama set entirely in a car. I think I'm allergic to Tom Hardy. Between this and Peaky Blinders and Dark Knight Rises I think his schtick might not really go beyond doing funny voices. His acting does nothing for me. Not to disparage anyone who loves him - he just doesn't gel with me. This was Capital D Drama and I never felt very invested in it... It could have used a chainsaw wielding maniac or a sex-obssessed sorority sister... My mistake for straying from the flavour of the month.
Duel, Steven Spielberg, 1971That Spielberg kid has a future in this movie business.
My first Junesploitation double feature!AMBULANCE (2022) on PeacockProbably my favorite Michael Bay movie. Actually, yes it is - the other ones don't have Jake Gyllenhaal. We often lament the days of movies for adults. They're not prestigious, they're not thought provoking. And they also have big budgets and movie stars and BIG BUDGETS. This is one of those movies. Wish I had seen it on the big screen.SPREE (2020) on HuluNo one on the planet can smirk like Joe Keery. As an unhinged and fame-obsessed Uber (Spree) driver, he's driving around Los Angeles killing as many people as he can. Pitch-black dark humor.
Cannonball Run II (1984)This movie is the end of an era in so many ways. It's the last time the Rat Pack - Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. And Shirley MacLaine - would appear in a movie together as well as the last movie for Martin, Sinatra and Jin Nabors. It's also the last car comedy from Burt Reynolds, who made his superstar status with movies like this.Director and writer Hal Needham wouldn't give up so easily. After making Rad and Body Slam, he'd make four more Bandit TV movies with Brian Bloom taking over from Burt.After the events of Cannonball Run, Sheik Abdul ben Falafel (Jamie Farr) has angered his father King Abdul ben Falafel (Ricardo Montalbán) and brought shame to the name Falafel. King Abdul demands that he win the next Cannonball; when told there won't be one, he orders his son to buy one.Bringing back nearly everyone from the original movie - no, not Cannonball or The Gumball Rally - the race is on, even if Don Don Canneloni (Charles Nelson Reilly) wants to kidnap the sheik after learning that he paid for the debts of Jamie Blake and Morris Fenderbaum (Martin and Davis), as well as the debts of the man hunting them down, Hymie Kaplan (Telly Savalas).In addition to Falafel, who has hired away Doctor Nikolas Van Helsing (Jack Elam) and brought his servant (Doug McClure), the racers this time are:JJ McClure and Victor Prinzi (Reynolds and Dom DeLuise, who also plays Don Cannelloni and Victor's other side Captain Chaos), who are dressed as soldiers and driving a Chrysler Imperial limousine. They pick up two fake nuns played by Betty and Veronica (Marilu Henner and MacLaine) as well as soldier Private Homer Lyle (Neighbors, pretty much playing Gomer Pyle).Mitsubishi engineer Jackie Chan (Jackie Chan, once again playing Japanese) being driven by the gigantic Arnold (Richard Kiel) in a Mitsubishi Starion that can drive underwater.Jill Rivers and Marcie Thatcher are back driving a Lamborghini, but Susan Anton and Catherine Bach take over for Adrienne Barbeau and Tara Buckman, who was too busy getting her throat slit by Santa Claus in Silent Night, Deadly Night.Mel and Tony (Mel Tillis and Tony Danza) who are driving a limousine with an orangutang.Don Don's enforcers, Sonny (Michael V. Gazzo), Tony (Alex Rocco), Slim (Henry Silva) and Caesar (Caesar) also join in, as does Shawn Weatherly who falls for Jamie. Plus there are cameos by Foster Brooks, Sid Caesar and Louis Nye as fishermen, Tim Conway and Don Knotts as policemen, Molly Picon as Seymour Goldfarb's mother (without Roger Moore who regretted his decision to turn down a role in this movie after finding out Sinatra was appearing, saying in his book My Word Is My Bond, "Regrets, I've had a few, but too few to mention."), Joe Theismann as a trucker, Arte Johnson as a German air ace from WWII, George Lindsay (Goober Pyle from the aforementioned Gomer Pyle USMC TV show), American restauranteur Jilly Rizzo (whose name Sinatra would substitute when he sang "Mrs. Robinson" so he didn't misuse the Lord's Son's name), Western character actor Dub Taylor, monster truck Bigfoot* and, yes, Sinatra himself as himself.Roger Ebert said that this movie was "one of the laziest insults to the intelligence of moviegoers that I can remember. Sheer arrogance made this picture" and Gene Siskel countered by saying that it was "a total ripoff, a deceptive film - that gives movies a bad name" and the worst movie he and Ebert had ever reviewed on At the Movies.There's a third movie in the series that few no about, Speed Zone, which only has Jamie Farr returning but boasts a pretty fun cast, John Candy romancing Donna Dixon and John Schneider playing a Duke.*Bigfoot also appears in Take This Job and Shove It, Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment, Road House, Police Academy 6: City Under Siege, Tango & Cash, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle and Ready: Player One.
Taxi 3 (dir. Gerard Krawczyk)The last few Junesploitation Cars Days I have been working through the Taxi series. This year: Taxi 3. This series rules. Our heroes are back for more antics and fast driving. I was pleasantly surprised by an extended cameo from Sylvester Stallone as a passenger! The series keeps trying to top itself and this time the taxi is converted to a snowmobile to hit the slopes of a snowy mountain. If you like action comedies the Taxi series is for you. Highly recommended.
Walking The Edge (1985)This movie has a pretty badass first and last act but there's a deadspot in the middle of about 30 minutes. The problem is that the movie has two completely separate plots that it never fully knows how to integrate - one, a woman seeking revenge on the people who killed her family and two, a debt collector learning to toughen up and stop being pushed around. That 30 minute deadspot literally has the woman waiting in a lounge room for the entire 30 minutes while the other character wrestles with being a push over. The movie would have done much better to pick one of these two plots and stick with it, but it also wouldn't have been that hard to integrate the two stories in a much more satisfactory way. Anyway, all the carnage at the end is fucking great and the initial scenes of the woman getting revenge are top notch too. Add to that some really awesome seedy LA travelogue stuff and you've got yourself a bit of a gem of a movie.
No Man's Land (1987, dir. Paul Werner)Before The Fast & The Furious and Point Break there was No Man's Land. DB Sweeney is the young rookie cop sent undercover as a mechanic in a garage involved in illegal activities, while falling in love with antagonist's sister. Charlie Sheen is the stand out as the car thief ring leader who seduces Sweeney with fast cars and his high end LA lifestyle.An entertaining movie in the mould of 80's Michael Mann.
A little gem!
Gone in 60 Seconds (2000, dir. Dominic Sena)Is this the most 2000 movie that ever 2000'd? A slick Jerry Bruckheimer-produced movie about stealing cars starring Nic Cage. What's not to like? Who needs logic or realism?Even in his movie star mode, Nic Cage is always interesting to look at. And the supporting cast is a mile deep: Angelina Jolie, Giovanni Ribisi, Will Patton, Chi McBride, Robert Duvall, Christopher Eccleston, Vinnie Jones, Grace Zabriskie, Frances Fisher, Carmen Argenziano... and motherfuckin' Delroy Lindo! Not one of them I wasn't glad to see turn up.It's slick, it's dumb, it's a ton of fun! (Hey, that could be a jingle!)Gas in the Veins aka Rally (Bensaa suonissa) (1970, dir. Risto Jarva)A movie set in the world of late 1960's Finnish car culture and rally driving. A rich rally-driving couple take a liking to a poor young man who services their car and take him under their wing, teaching him to be a driver. And as expected, a love triangle forms between them.The weirdest thing about the movie is that it occasionally cuts to documentary clips about the history of the automobile and how it has changed society. And in the middle of a sex scene, it cuts to a bizarre animation titled "anatomy lecture" where it shows a human with car parts in place of internal organs.The movie makes car enthusiasts look like idiots who are obsessed with cars and don't understand anything else, which is pretty funny. The drama isn't even a little compelling, but the late 60's milieu and the old cars are nice to look at, and the racing scenes are well shot. A mildly interesting historical curiosity for a Finn, can't in good conscience recommend to anyone else. The young man and the wife having sex while listening to sounds of revving engines played from a tape deck was pretty funny though.Smokey and the Bandit (1977, dir. Hal Needham)What a blast that was! Car stunts, funny dialogue, more car stunts, Burt's mustache, the lovely Sally Field, and a few more car stunts. Loved it!Always love a theme song that explains the movie's plot.I can't see this movie's title without hearing it in Goldmember's "smoke and a pancake" voice in my head. My brain is fundamentally broken.
"young man and the wife having sex while listening to sounds of revving engines played from a tape deck". Cronenberg watched this before coming up with Crash?Smokey and the Bandit is a blind spot. I should really try to squeeze it in this Junesploitation.
I just watched the 2000 Gone in Sixty seconds a few weeks back and had such a good time with it. It seems ridiculous to think of a Bruckheimer picture as modest, but it feels so charmingly small in scope now that we're approaching our tenth Fast & the Furious entry.
Money Movers (1978)One of the best heist films I've ever seen and yet no one I know in Australia has seen it... That's ridiculous. It deserves to be talked about with the same hushed reverence as Wake In Fright. It's a movie that reminds you that editing is an artform in itself.Best scene: the very bloody shootout, one of the best in cinema.
I need to see this.
Me too! 🤯🥳
Oh, this is on Tubi. I might watch this evening. Thanks for the recommendation!
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Vanishing Point (1971) Richard C. SarafianHad to revisit the granddaddy '70s carsploitation after a few years. Writing and cinematography conspire to make a solid action flick into an existensial examination. Sympathetic antihero Kowalski is unfortunately sullied by a shitty gay bashing scene that would feel at home in the lowest rent sleazy drive-in flick.I've realized over the years that John Amos' presence always elevates a movie in a unique way. Cleavon Little gets MVP in spite of Newman's and the rest of the cast's soulful performances.
I've never been able to figure it out, but for some reason the song "Mississippi Queen" sounds way cooler in this movie than any other time I've heard it (I think it plays while a guy is riding around on a motorcycle near the end). I don't know if the movie messed with the mix, or if it's just the audio-visual combo, but something really turns it up to 11 for me in this movie.
It plays while a lovely blonde rides around naked on a dirt bike so maybe that helps!
You could be onto something there...
Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow (1959) dir. William J. Hole, Jr. Cracked my rib a couple days ago, which means I’m fitting in more movies than usual since I can’t do much besides sit. It also means I’m operating on an absurd lack of sleep, even for me- which apparently is the exact right condition for the Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow, cuz oh man, I was ON this movie’s level. It’s super goofy and shambling, but inescapably charming. Very much two different movies jammed together, the first half is an exceptionally polite JD picture, and the second half a silly haunted house B-movie meets Scooby Doo episode featuring a sharp tongues parrot, a talking car and a rubber suited Paul Blaisdell crashing an absolutely incredible costume party at a haunted car-club HQ! It’s the endest, man!!
This certainly is a charming film, J.Goose. It brings together all the elements of the early period of my beloved American International Pictures. It was the end of an era. After this AIP focused on Roger Corman's Poe films and the beach musicals.
RACE 3 (2018) Drama within a mega-rich crime family eventually explodes into cool car action. The opening set pieces show a lot of promise, filmed all slick and stylish like something out of The Matrix. The finale, where tons of cars go at it in the desert, is more like Fast and the Furious-type carnage. In between, we've got a wannabe crime epic with lots of twists and double-crosses, plus huge romance with two beautiful leads. I'm torn on this one. It's a dull story, but it's told with a lot of energy and visual razzle-dazzle. I recall Patrick saying not to fast forward through parts of movies, but maybe this is one case where you can. Bonus Lloyd Kaufman-sploitation, day 8: THE TOXIC AVENGER (1984) You guys, I think this movie might be... good. Unlike Kaufman's previous films, Toxic Avenger zips along at a quick pace, so the various gags never overstay their welcome. More importantly, there's an actual script this time, with a three-act structure and the good ol' hero's journey checklist. That might be basic, but the basics work for a reason. As for superhero mythology, Toxie might share DNA with the Hulk and the Thing, but his distinctive gimmick is his creative kills. He dispatches his enemies in outlandish ways, and we keep watching because we can't wait to see what he'll do next. So, yeah, I'm on Team Toxie.
Car Wash (1976) dir. Michael SchultzJust one of the most fun, warm and charming movies ever. The music is integral and was recorded before filming allowing for the fantastically charming moment when Franklin Ajaye sings along to "I Wanna Get Next To You" in the coffee shop. One of the greatest casts of the '70s.
Convoy (1978, dir. Sam Peckinpah)“Looks like we got us a convoy”I love Peckinpah. I can see why he wanted to make this. The spirited individuality and ruggedness of the truckers is right down his lane. There was even a suggestion to run to Mexico at one point, a common theme in his movies, and in the directors own life. Ernest Borgnine is fantastic as the evil cop. Ali MacGraw is also fantastic with the precious little she has to work with. Kris Krisofferson is good as the rugged machismo man character that Kurt Russell would later perfect. "Paulie" from Rocky is in there. There’s just a lot of trucks driving about and some great stunt work.Unfortunately, it kind of reminded me of the “trucker convoy” here in Ottawa a few months ago, and what a bunch of anti-science racist dumb fucks those people were. They would have loved this movie. It detracted from it a bit, but I still had a very fun time with it.
The Car (1977) dir. Elliot Silverstein Been wanting to get to this for a while- I’m not always a shoe-in with the Jaws ripoff formula (the great Alligator withstanding), but this is just way too much fun to not enjoy. It was also the rare example of PG really working in the movie’s favor- they spent enough time with the characters rather than the carnage that I was pretty invested when people started getting picked off- not always a guarantee with the killer-______ genre.
TV movie based on a Stephen King short. How could it miss? Well, it’s kind of a slog and makes me just want to watch The Mist for the first time. Some trucks DO blow up, so there’s at least that plus the tub kid from Freddy vs. Jason. This is nowhere near as fun (or even good) as Maximum Overdrive, but it was worth a shot. That’s what Junesploitation is all about.
Which movie is this? My guess is Sometimes They Come Back or Big Driver
never mind, it's Trucks (1997)! A movie I had no idea existed
License to Drive (1988)Marketed as a Corey & Corey team-up, but this is really a Corey Haim show, and probably better for it since he's the more likable half of the duo. After botching his driving licence exam a permanently exasperated Haim decides to "borrow" his grandpa's shiny cadillac to go on a hot date with teenage Heather Graham, which sets off a crazy night on the town and leads to all sorts of wacky shenanigans, mostly revolving around said vehicle. It's vintage 80s teen comedy, complete with juvenile humor and cartoonish stereotypes, but if you enjoy this kind of vibe (and it seems the older I get, the more I do), you're gonna have a good time.
Sahara (1983)Another movie picked for the Morricone score (which again was limited mostly to a theme with a couple variations). While this movie is kind of about a car race that Brooke Shields participates in after the death of her father, most of it involves Shields taking a shortcut through part of the Sahara where there is a tribal war being waged, and her subsequently being taken as property when captured by one of said tribes. None of it really works, and the film was a sizable flop for Cannon.
METAL SKIN (1994)D/W: Geoffrey WrightP: Daniel Scharf / M: John Clifford WhiteIt all starts on the job at an Aussie equivalent to Sam’s Club. Witchy goth chick Tara Morice (STRICTLY BALLROOM) is praying to Satan to make Ben Mendelsohn (THE DARK KNIGHT RISES) fall for her. Mendelsohn’s got lush hair & expensive pants that can’t seem to contain his dick, much to girlfriend Nadine Garner’s (lots of Australian TV) constant disappointment. Aden Young (I, FRANKENSTEIN) is keen on Garner, but his nutty dad & homemade racing station wagon don’t put him in the running for anything. Will Mendelsohn's dad ever let him drive in Nascar? Will Young invent the turbo system that currently looks like a broken science project? Will Satan really listen to Morice? Wright follows up ROMPER STOMPER with another story of young people behind their own eightball & hoping against possibility that their individual visions will carry through. Told through somewhat fractured editing, this story gets really dark in an increasing ebb/flow frequency of intensity & pleasant possibility. Set in contemporary Melbourne, there’s a feeling that things have almost gone into apocalyptic territory in the subculture of these folks (mostly) in their 20s. The apocalypses are strictly relegated to the individual level, though. A drag race, a car chase, satanic sacrifice, obsessive brushing, a flippant death promise that comes accidentally true, a girl-fight, a huge party & hideous burn scars lay ground for the human encounters. Many of the locations & sets verge into the surreal, whether it’s Morice’s home's outdated posh austerity or the visionary art aesthetics of Young’s house. Try chasing METAL SKIN with DEAD END DRIVE-IN.SUBVERSIVE CINEMA
Goodbye Pork Pie (1981)Pretty sure I heard about this on the Pure Cinema podcast. This movie has a wandering, minimal plot, the car action isn't anything outstanding, and maybe 25% of the dialogue was unintelligible to me (mix of NZ dialect/lingo and sound levels on what I'm guessing was not exactly a blockbuster budget). But Goodbye Pork Pie gets by on sheer zany, manic energy. I had a good time with it. The cast is funny, the music is sneaky good, and it ends on a high note. This felt like a quintessential Junesploitation pick.
Wheelman (2017, dir. Jeremy Rush)Last year I met Jeremy Rush for coffee on what happened to be Cars day. This year on Cars day I decided to watch his movie. I love it so.
XXX: State Of The Union (2005) Lee TamahoriNot good! Ice Cube's homie Xzibit and love interest come through with some sweet rides. Shelby prototype!
EAT MY DUST (1976, dir. Charles Griffith)Deciding what to watch today was difficult. Ultimately, the Roger Corman connection to Eat My Dust was decisive. I try to watch at least one Corman production for Junesploitation. New World Pictures produced several car films at this period of time, and Eat My Dust is not one of the better ones. There are lots of cars but not much of a script. Ron Howard plays an irresponsible young man trying to impress a woman. When she asks him to steal a race car to fulfill her need for speed, he dutifully follows through on her wish. Most of the film is one long chase interspersed with comedic scenes that I did not find particularly funny. Another issue was the lack of variety to the chase scenes, which makes the film drag. That reduced the fun factor for me quite a bit. A film like Death Race 2000 just has more going on to hold my interest. If you are looking for a pure drive-in movie, though, Eat My Dust perfectly fits the bill.
It is strange to think about Eat My Dust being the start of Ron Howard's directing career, yet it was. He directed the follow-up film to it and did not look back.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)Was planning on watching something else today, but then I listened to the podcast...which you'd think would inspire me to was the OG Mad Max...but I remember this movie really working for me when I saw it in theaters, and I wanted to see if it still does. It does.
Six Pack (1982)At first you don't know what you're watching and then it becomes a part of you. I listened to Kenny Rogers music later that night. I'm changed for the better.The Road Warrior/Mad Max 2Finally seeing Mad Max for the podcast helped me like the sequel more. I'm looking forward to continuing the series.
Did this same double feature with Adam. One of my favorite days of Junesploitation so far, if only because Six Pack is such a find.