Drag Racing Week: Burnout (1979)

Courtesy of Vectezzy.

We originally reviewed this drag flick on August 2, 2020, as part of our reviews for Mill Creek’s Savage Cinema collection. Then it came back on February 5, 2021, as part of Mill Creek’s B-Movie Blast pack. So, for this “Drag Racing Week” tribute, it’s time for a new, second look at this ’70s time capsule homage to those rails and funny cars of the ’60s and ’70s.

Hey, when you’ve got faux-Charlie’s Angels that look like they’re out of a The Dukes of Hazzard crossover episode . . . and rails on the poster, we aint’ hatin’, Hoss.

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This one really is for the drag junkies, for this isn’t just a T&A comedy fest with a hotrod in it. This is hardcore: Don Garlits, Marvin Graham, Gary Beck, Don Prudhomme, Raymond Beadle, Tony Nancy and Shirley “Cha Cha” Muldowny (who earned her own hot roddin’ drag flick with Heart Like a Wheel) appear.

So, we have Mark Schneider from Supervan as Scott, with aspirations to be a drag racer. Of course, his affluent businessman pop is against that career choice, even though his dad is a fellow drag fan. In spite, Scott signs up as a gopher for a driver and hits the road. Don’t worry: Dad and Scott come to find a common ground.

That’s the movie.

For this flick isn’t about the drama. Or Scott. Or pop. It’s about the drag racing padding. But, not footage shot for the film. It’s all stock footage creatively written into the “plot” of the film. Truth be told, there’s decent story here — even though it’s 80% stock and 20% real actors. Take Tom Cruise’s Days of Thunder, give him a pop instead of team captain, take out the stock cars, put in rails, and you’d have a box office hit flick about drag racing.

Yeah, this is one budgetary Crown flick I really like. Then again, I grew up watching weekend sports show on network TV in the pre-cable days for those drag racing “events,” so your own nostalgia mileage may vary from mine.

As for director Graham Meech-Burkestone: this was his only film. He entered the business as a hairdresser and makeup artist on Burnt Offerings, Day of the AnimalsThe Manitou, The Exterminator, Day of the Locusts, and The Amsterdam Kill. Wow. If he was a director on all of those films, that’d be a tribute week right there for the B&S About Movies’ schedule alongside Mark L. Lester and Michael Fischa.

But jam on this: Unlike most Crown International actors who vanish from the biz, Mark Schneider is still in the business. He worked his way up to being a regular on TV’s Matt Houston and had a long, successful career with the U.S. TV daytime dramas Santa Barbara and Days of Our Lives. In addition to a recurring role in the syndicated sci-fi’er Babylon 5, Mark recently appeared in the indie horrors Obscura (2017) and Remains (2020).

You can watch Burnout on You Tube.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

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