H.B. “Toby” Halicki, the director of 1974’s Gone in 60 Seconds (reviewed this week, look for it) fame, wrote, directed, produced, and stars in this second installment of his Gone in 60 Seconds trilogy — a meta-film that presents that 1974 drive-in blockbuster as a film-within-a-film alongside the filming of Halicki’s “new film,” which is Deadline Auto Theft. The Junkman and Deadline Theft Auto are both centered on the theft of a rare 1974 Bricklin SV-1.
When we meet junkman-turned-stuntman-cum-filmmaker Harlan B. Hollis, his movie Gone in 60 Seconds has taken Hollywood by storm and is set to premiere at L.A.’s famed Cinerama Dome. He’s also in production of his new movie, The Junkman, which stars Hoyt Axton as Captain Gibbs.
Does this have a plot? Or is it just a lot of car chases n’ crashes?
Well, a little of both.
Jealous of his brother-in-law’s success and angered by his sister’s crash in the new, red Mercedes that came as result of the film’s success, sociopath Michael Fox (Christopher Stone, wife of Dee Wallace; both starred in The Howling), who works as Hollis’s public relations manager, hires a team of assassins (two hitmen and one slinky-sexy hitwoman with a designer handgun) to kill him on the way to the yearly “James Dean Festival” in Cholame, California, to promote the film.
Of course, the bullets fly as the cars, the crop-dusting biplanes, and the helicopters crash in a flurry of non-stop action — or guffaws as result of all the improbably, over-the-top crashes. There’s even an epic scene with the Goodyear Blimp (!), which Harlan commandeers to save the Cinerama Dome from being blown up by the assassins under Fox’s employ. And if pinching John Frankenheimer’s 1977 epic Black Sunday wasn’t enough, Halicki and Christopher Stone sport tux and three-piece suits as they battle it out on the movie theater’s roof James Bond-style.
Seriously. For reals. This movie is sick . . . and a bag o’ chips.
So, yeah. If you want action and crashes, this is your film, but wow . . . since much of this was filmed on-the-fly without permits, it offers strained acting that leaves the proceedings look like a Larry Buchanan conspiracy fakeumentary — about H.B. “Toby” Halicki dealing with the price of fame — and not an actual H.B hackjob of his own film.
But, my god, do I love this friggin’ movie!
You can watch the movie on You Tube HERE and HERE — and based on the clean rips, they’re from the 2001 DVD officially reissued by H.B.’s wife Denice Shakarian Halicki. (H.B. died in August 1989 completing a stunt for the “official” Gone in 60 Seconds 2 sequel to the 1974 original.) The caveat of those DVDs: They’re void of the rock ‘n’ roll and country music soundtrack (four tunes written by Hoyt Axton, with two performed by Axton and two by Freddie Cannon and the Belmonts) from the original film and its initial VHS release — and replaced with a generic synthesizer music score. (For example: the great, original theme song written for the film and sung by Axton, “James Dean and the Junkman” is excised for an awful Beverly Hills Cop synth-ripoff.) But alas, we found a fan-restore soundtrack version HERE. So if you want to own this — with the original soundtrack and uncut scenes — you’re better off finding the original VHS by Trans World Entertainment, which contains the original unedited/unaltered film.