Former test pilot Will Zens found himself a maker of hicksploitation movies, thanks to movies like this, The Road to Nashville, Hell on Wheels and Hot Summer in Barefoot County. It was originally called Truckin’ Man until the producers thought a woman’s name would draw more money.
This movie was acquired in 1983 by Troma, who released it to home video. They have nothing to do with it. Thank God.
Shot in Florence and Society Hill, South Carolina, this movie isn’t about anything that’s on the poster. Instead, it’s all about a middle-aged man who drops out of college — maybe he was a non-traditional student — to go undercover as a truck driver so that he can solve the mysterious murder of his trucker father. I’ve noticed in so many trucker movies that the mob has killed dads, which seems like their chief job in this reality.
Michael Hawkins plays that trucker. He’d go on to play in plenty of soap operas, like Ryan’s Hope, where he was Frank Ryan for 272 episodes. He’s also a state trooper in The Amityville Horror and a Pepsi executive in Mommie Dearest — he’s literally one of the people Joan screams “You drove Al Steele to his grave and now you’re trying to stab me in the back? Forget it! I fought worse monsters than you for years in Hollywood. I know how to win the hard way! Don’t fuck with me, fellas! This ain’t my first time at the rodeo” to — but he may be best known for being Christian Slater’s dad.
Larry Drake, who would later play Durant in Darkman (and eventually turned up as a detective in the direct-to-cable thriller Power 98), is Diesel Joe here. Comedian Doodles Weaver also shows up. If you haven’t seen his near-manic performance in The Zodiac Killer, I urge you to do so at the first opportunity. Actually, I shared it in our review of Bigfoot, so just click over there. Screenwriters Joseph Alvarez and W. Henry Smith also penned the hicksploitation-centric romps Preacherman and Redneck Miller.
Perhaps most strangely, at around the one-hour eight-minute mark of this movie, trucker Mike Kelley goes to the back of his rig and reaches for his break line. For a split second, an image of a pepperoni pizza flashes on the screen. Due to the vignetting effect which was applied to it, several people believe that the insertion of this frame was not accidental, but instead a subliminal message to suggest o drive-in audiences that they should get up and go buy some pizza.
Man, I’m hungry for some pizza.
You can watch this with Rifftrax commentary on Tubi.