William Asher’s career was mostly in TV — he was a driving force behind I Love Lucy and Bewitched — and making AIP’s beach movies work. The one aberration is the movie Butcher, Baker Nightmare Maker, which is a mindblowing piece of film that I encourage everyone to see.
AIP was always ahead of the teen curve, as they realized that the beach films had run their course and now, the kids wanted, well, rebellion.
AIP executive Deke Heyward said, “The next big thing for teenage films is protest. Teenagers empathize with protest because they are in revolt against their parents… These films represent a protest against society. These will be moral tales, there will be good guys and bad guys. But we will show the reasons for young people going against the dictates of the establishment.”
Stock car racer “Fireball” Dave Owens (Frankie Avalon) has come from the West Coast to race Spartansburg’s champion Sonny Leander Fox (Fabian). He also gets plenty of glances from Fox’s girl, Jane (Annette Funicello).
The conflict comes when Dave is conned into smuggling moonshine by Julie Parrish and Harvey Lembeck’s characters. Then the IRS gets involved, threatening to jail our hero unless he helps them defeat the moonshiners. And then Fox wants one more race on the deadly Figure 8 track.
The real star of this movie is the Fireball 500, a 1966 Plymouth Barracuda customized by George Barris. There was going to be a sequel, Malibu 500, but that eventually became Thunder Alley.
As if Dave making eyes at Fox’s girl wasn’t bad enough, he’s also hooked up with Martha the Moonshiner (the aforementioned Parrish). So how does our man beat the system and get the girl? There’s only one way to find out.
You can watch this on YouTube.