FANTASTIC FEST: Rad (1986)

EDITOR’S NOTE: In celebration of its 35th anniversary, the 1986 BMX racing film Rad will return to movie theaters nationwide on Thursday, October 14 at 7:00 p.m. courtesy of Fathom Events and Utopia. Featuring a new 35th-anniversary restoration, fans will see — for the first time — A Rad Documentary – Inside the BMX Movie That Changed Everything, which has never-before-seen interviews with the cast and crew and behind-the-scenes footage.

Tickets for Rad 35th Anniversary can be purchased online at www.FathomEvents.com or at participating theater box offices beginning September 17. 

There was also a Rad stunt show and premier tonight at Fantastic Fest. While we couldn’t be there in person, we couldn’t resist sharing this review again, which originally ran on December 9, 2020. We’ll see you in the theater on October 14 and on Helltrack!

If there was one movie that was hard to rent at my neighborhood mom and pop video store, this would be it.*

Leonard Maltin gave this movie his dreaded BOMB review, comparing it to 1950’s car race and 1970’s roller disco movie films. Yeah, Leonard. Wondering why everyone liked it so much?

Shot in Alberta, Canada — look for a young Robin Bougie from Cinema Sewer — this movie may have failed in theaters. but like I said above, it was a top rental film for what seems like forever.

Cru Jones has two choices: take the SAT in order to attend college or race Helltrack, which could mean $100,000, a new Chevrolet Corvette and fame. His mom, Talia Shire, whines so much that you wish that Stanley Kubrick would arrive to cause PTSD to take her out of this film, but no, she just cries that he’s throwing away his future. He is, near-fifty-year-old me can tell you, but have you seen Helltrack?

The thing I never understood about this movie was how could Mongoose have allowed themselves to be portrayed in such a negative light? They were such a big BMX company and in nearly every scene, their owner Duke Best is out to get Cru and to push his own rider Bart Taylor.

Before she went to jail for that college scam, Lori Loughlin played the tough tomboy that the hero fell in love with. Here, she’s Christian Hollings and she BMX bike dances with Cru, setting hearts aflutter. For more Laughlin roles like this, see Secret Admirer and Back to the Beach.

The evil Reynolds twins who try and destroy Cru on Helltrack grew up to be Chad and Carey Hayes, the writers of the remake of House of Wax, as well as The Conjuring movies.

Man, this movie still leaves me with so many questions. How could the town raise $50,000 so quick for Cru? How does he have the money to sign up Bart when he gets kicked off the Mongoose team? Why did my grandparents buy me a Schwinn that weighed as much as a Harley when all I wanted was a BMX bike?

This movie wasn’t on DVD or blu ray for years until Vinegar Syndrome did a limited release. It’s streaming now, so you can finally legally watch it.

Also, look for pro wrestler Hard Boiled Haggerty, who yells to our hero, “Go balls out!” before the Helltrack** race. That was the film’s original title.

This was directed by Hal Needham, who also made so many stunt heavy movies like the Smokey and the Bandit films, Stroker AceBody SlamHooperDeath Car on the Freeway and, of course, Megaforce.

*Other movies that fit this bill are Thashin’The Dirt Bike Kid and The Toxic Avenger.

**None of the stunt racers could complete a lap of Helltrack, with major worries about the giant hill that starts the race. The entire scene took two weeks to film.

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