Based on The Visitor by Chauncey G. Parker III, this movie is totally worth watching just to see Peter Weller pretty much be in a movie by himself for long stretches, going absolutely ful nutzoid at the premise of having a rat in his walls. If you’ve said, “I want a movie where rats attack people while they’re arrdvarking and children at birthday parties,” Of Unknown Origin is your movie. I mean, there was one point where I had to stop this movie and just catch my breath and be amazed that it exists.
Bart Hughes (Weller) stays behind to work on the job that will get him a promotion while his wife (Shannon Tweed) and child go away on vacation. He just redid their brownstone, so this should be a great weekend for him, but no, a rat shows up and that’s the story. Ninety minutes or so of a rat and Peter Weller descends into destructive dementia and screams stuff like, “Watch and weep, you furry f**ker” and “Keep it up. Just keep it up. I’ve got friends in Jersey.”
There’s also a moment where he tells everyone at a dinner party that no one knows where rats come from — Of Unknown Origin — and no one corrects him and calls BS and explains that they come from Asia, but then again, no one had Wikipedia in 1983 and they had to figure out how to get the title into the movie.
June 22: Junesploitation’s topic of the day — as suggested by F This Movie — is zombies.
Zombies are boring. Let’s face it — the best things that had to be said about them really didn’t escape the 80s. And outside of perhaps Train to Busan, how can you improve upon movies like Dawn of the Dead, Zombi and Return of the Living Dead? People try and well, you have to give them credit for it. But I was really trying to stretch during Junesploitation and find a zombie movie that no one would choose, as well as one that might rekindle my love for these movies.
Released in the U.S. as Revenge of the Dead, Zeder doesn’t go for the Fulci throat — or eyeball — like nearly every zombie movie made in the wake of the Godfather of Gore’s tribute to the living dead.
The film begins in 1956, as a psychic girl named Gabriella is brought to the French mansion of Dr. Meyer. As a test of her abilities, he takes her into his basement where she immediately begins to claw and dig into the dirt, searching for something. Soon, she’s attacked and taken to the hospital and a corpse is discovered that is identified as Paolo Zeder.
Fast forward three decades and change and we meet Stefano (Gabriele Lavia, Inferno, Deep Red, Sleepless), a novelist who has been given the gift of a typewriter by his wife. He starts to investigate the ribbon of the ancient machine and finds a series of letters from Zeder that detail phenomena he called K-Zones, which are places where death does not exist and even those deceased may be reborn.
Our hero soon loses everything — his wife, any semblance of normalcy, his mind — to penetrate the web of conspiracy that surrounds Zeder and the K-Zones. His wife is even murdered by those who want to keep the existence of the undead world a secret, so the film closes with Stefano attempting to bring her back.
Beyond the dependable as always score by Riz Ortolani, there’s a great scene near the end where a tower of video monitors replays the rebirth of the supposedly dead priest Don Luigi Costa arise in grainy glory.
This was written and directed by Pupi Avati, who is still making movies to this day, but is probably best known for House with the Laughing Windows.
The American VHS art for this — when it was released by Lightning Video — made it seem like this was going to be everything you expect from a zombie film. I’m happy to report that it is not. Instead, it’s a dark mediation on secrets and death.
After making his debut in Murder in the Orient(1974) with Leo Fong (Kill Point) and finding a home in our public domain hearts with Death Machines (1976), Ron Marchini retreated from the film industry to concentrate on training and writing martial arts books with Leo Fong, as well as becoming a go-to arts teacher. He returned to our drive-in screens for his third film, Dragon’s Quest (1983). Sadly, as with Arctic Warriors (1989), Ron’s third film is a Marchini title lost to the analog ages. There’s no VHS tape images on the web and the blogs dedicated to Ron’s career make no mention of the film.
So, in desperation . . . and in the grand tradition of low-budget studios recycling artwork (know your Michael Sopkiw vs. Mark Gregory movies), we made our own (it must be cheesy) Dragon’s Quest VHS sleeve with the Mexican-distributed artwork from Ninja Warriors. Oh, what might have been. . . .
Courtesy of the digital catalogers at the IMDb, all we know about Dragon’s Quest is that the film was shot in the native Filipino and Tagalog languages of the Philippines and that Ron portrayed a character named Dragon. Director Celso Ad. Castillo has 65 directing credits and 50 writing credits (he only directs Dragon’s Quest). His career led to his winning the “Cinema Original Award” at the 6th Cinema One Originals Digital Film Festival 2010 for the horror film 666.
As with much of the East and South Asian films cataloged at the IMDb, most of Castillo’s resume entries, as with Dragon’s Quest and his award-winner 666, are barren, dead pages. While most of Castillo’s films were Philippine-only distributed, several have English-language titles, so, most likely, they received distribution outside of his homeland: Dr. Yes (1965), Zebra (1965), The Tall, Dark, and the Handsome (1968), Dirty Face Max (1968), Inside Job (1970), The Virgin (1971), Isabel of the Islands (1975), Virgin People (1984), Snake Sisters (1984), Isla (1985), Paradise Inn (1985), and Virgin People 2 (1996). Unless your willing to explore the Filipino online marketplace for any possible VHS issues or grey DVDs, we’ll just have to let Castillo’s Dragon’s Quest go and live in the now.
AKA Ninja Commandos and American Ninja — Distributor hornswoggling to convince us Arnie or Michael Dudikoff will appear as a ninja warrior
That brings us to Ron’s fourth film — and his first of four appearance as Steve Parrish: Ninja Warriors. At the time, Cannon was swimming in cash with their initiating a new wave of martial arts films in the ’80s with the likes of Michael Dudikoff in every derivative of “American” and “Ninja” and “Warrior” in the title — and with Ron’s old tournament mate, Chuck Norris. As with most of the Ninja-cum-Kung fu flicks of the Filipino variety, you’re getting lots of action adrift in the seas of no plot: but who watches these movies for their plots or character development? And the acting stinks, but the fights are great: but who watches these films for their acting; we came for the fights, the acrobatics, and the stunts. Look, let’s be honest: it’s action porn. We watch porn for the porn and ninja movies for ninjas. And President Reagan — via photographs — is all over the place, just so we know that, while this was shot in the Philippines, the action takes place in America — although nothing in this film looks like America.
So . . . this film rolls out the old “secret formula” trope (this time: mind control) that can either save or destroy the world — depending on who possesses said formula. Baddie Ninja Kurado (Ken Watanabe; not that one, the other one) and his evil scientist boss, Dr. Anderson (Mike Cohen), want the formula. So Kurado’s seven-man, cartwheeling gas-masked paramilitary ninja unit storms the government lab (“Top Secret” stenciled on the cover, natch) and dispatches the ubiquitously feeble security guards by fire, throwing stars, grappling hooks, swords, and ball bearings/marbles; attack-by-trees is their forte. The ninjas, led by Kurado’s best warrior (Romano Kristoff), have succeed. But they only secured half of the formula.
Now, for their next mission: storm a country mansion to kidnap the tennis pro daughter of a wealthy scientist (the ‘ol chloroform n’ burlap sack trope; I was going to use the word “gag,” but I like trope, better, for its reader-irritation levels and to display my thesaurus-ignorance in finding non-repetitive words in my writing) as leverage to secure the second half of the formula. And the ground’s guards, as well as the cops, are, once again, dispatched in quick succession, but a policewoman is kidnapped; in a prisoner exchange gone bad with a captured ninja, the ninjas murder their cop hostage. To paraphase Tommy Wiseau: Is plot twist . . . of no consequence.
Well, it’s time to call in Steve Parrish: Ninja Warrior. And, while Steve has no last name here, in interviews over the years, Marchini has stated — as well as MarchiniHeads more fanboy-manic than I — that Ninja Warriors is the first Steve Parrish adventure. Of course, there’s no character development regarding Steve’s past to confirm his Parrishness. For he just is: a lone wolf wrapped in a puzzle sandwiched in an even-fewer-dollars spaghetti, uh, noodles western, enigma. (How’s that for a non-trope laden sentence? R.D has mad skills.)
Anyway, Lt. Kevin Washington (Paul Vance), lost amid this ninja tomfoolery, knows Steve better than anybody; he calls in his old buddy for schoolin’ of his Japan-based martial arts knowledge in the ways the ninja. But Parrish soon realizes “knowing” the ninja ways isn’t enough: to defeat them, he must become . . . a Ninja Warrior.
Romano Kristoff pops up often in our Marchini reviews this week. Amid his 30 films, he worked with Mark “Trash” Gregory in Just a Damned Soldier (1988) and Tan Zan: Ultimate Mission (1988). Ken Watanabe, who also penned Ninja Warriors, also stars in our favorite Brent Huff film of all time (Hey, Sho Kosugi, we love you too.): Nine Deaths of the Ninja (1985).
Paul Vance made his acting debut as Praxis in the batshite-all-over-the-place wonder that is W Is War (1983) and Mad Warrior (1984) for Willy Milan, and Slash Exterminator (1984, with Romano Kristoff) for Jun Gallardo. In addition, Vance wrote Slash Exterminator and SFX Retailator for Gallardo. Romano Kristoff, starring here for director Teddy Chiu/Teddy Page, also worked on two of Page’s best: Black Fire (1985) and Jungle Rats (1988) (that we seriously need to rewatch and review . . . for a “Philippine War Week” blowout).
If you’re a frequent visitor to the Pasta and Philippine Apocalypses and Vietnam war zones, you’ll recognize the support cast of Mike Cohen, Mike Monty, and Nick Nicholas, each who could easily have a month-long B&S About Movies tribute month based on their respective resumes.
So . . . yeah, Ninja Warriors is bad. But it’s awesome bad because it’s better made than most Rambo and Arnie Commando pasta and noodle rips. Director Teddy Page, averaging a Woody Allen-inspired one film a year across 30-plus credits, ranks right up their with Cirio H. Santiago (Equalizer 2000) in terms of quality-against-the-budget and could teach a thing or two, or three, to Godfrey Ho (Devil’s Dynamite) and Jun Gallardo (Desert Warrior).
You can stream the majesty of Ninja Warriors on You Tube. It’s a kick!’
About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S Movies
June 19: Junesploitation’s topic of the day — as suggested by F This Movie — is Jackie Chan!
Fantasy Mission Force is one of the first movies I ever owned. It was a cheap VHS tape and I was so excited to own a Jackie Chan movie in the mid-80s. However, once I watched it, I absolutely hated it. I didn’t understand why Jackie was barely in it or what a Hong Kong mo lei tau movie was.
Mo lei tau means nonsense, a type of slapstick that was developed in Hong Kong that places elements that should not belong together, often with anachronisms and things that should in no way go together.
That explains why this movie, set during World War II, begins with the Japanese attack on Canada, where four generals, including Abraham Lincoln, are taken by the enemy. Lieutenant Don Wen leads the rescue, putting together a team. At first, he rejects James Bond, Rocky, Albert from Aces Go Places and Snake Plissken because he heard that he’s dead. He ends up with a dirty kind of dozen that includes two kilt-wearing weirdos, a homeless man named Old Sun, Greased Lightning the escape artist, Billy and Lily (Brigitte Lin, The Bride with the White Hair). They’re soon joined by two criminals who want money named Emily and Sammy (Jackie, finally showing up).
Don Wen dies pretty quickly when some natives attack them, followed by cannibals led by a man in a tuxedo. That man would be Yu Jin Xiang and his music is that of Chor Lauheung, a martial arts soap opera in which the actor who plays this role, Adam Cheng, appeared on. He was typecast as a James Bond type, which is why he plays this role in the movie.
After our gang kills them off, they must spend the night in a haunted house staffed by Chinese hopping vampires before they find the base. But when they get there, the generals are gone and the Japanese are all dead.
They barely have a second to catch their breath before German troops in 1970s cars attack them, except they’re all Japanese and dressed like they’ve come out of Mad Max. Everyone in the cast is killed as the movie suddenly gets dark — I was ill-prepared for this narrative switch — and only Sammy, Emily and Old Sun survive, but the older man is soon killed by Don Wen, who survived and orchestrated the whole thing.
This leads to a fight and Jackie of course wins, before driving off with the girl. But hey — Don Wen is playing by Jimmy Wang Yu, the man who starred in movies like Master of the Flying Guillotineand The One Armed Swordsmen.
So why did Jackie make this movie? Well, he owed director Jimmy Wang Yu a favor, because Wang Yu negotiated on Chan’s behalf during a Triad dispute over his contract between Golden Harvest and Chan’s former employer Wei Lo. It’s also why Jackie made the movie Island of Fire.
This movie is goofy beyond belief, with music stolen from Planet of the Apes, Halloween, Tourist Trap and The Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion. But best of all, it has Brigitte Lin shooting a bazooka. I’ve come around to this movie in my old age, but trust me, it’s really something.
Even being prepared for this movie by others who’ve seen it, I was not ready for the sheer onslaught that the last five minutes of this movie makes you endure. There’s brutal and then there’s this, a film that literally had me jumping around the room worried as to who would survive the final moments.
Adele is a female lawyer who believes that everyone deserves mercy. Unfortunately, several criminals steal her car, take her keys and rob her country home. Circumstances have led her and her husband there at the same time and he’s shot and killed. Three of the four get away and despite the tragedy, Adele attempts to stay true to her values. Her mother-in-law continually reminds her that she’s lost a son and that Adele’s son and daughter now have no father.
The thugs who remain on the streets keep calling and taunting her, telling her to lie so that they can all escape justice. But when the one left on the inside is seen as a snitch and killed, they decide to get their revenge on her, leading to a scene so horrifying that I worry that my words won’t do it justice. Seriously, this movie goes beyond Last House on the Left with old women brutalized, children punched in the fact and excessive use of fire. I was so sure that the daughter would be burned alive that I nearly watched this scene from the other room.
Directed by Jorge Grau (The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue, Blood Ceremony), this is a movie packed with fear and menace from the very start of the movie. Something bad seems like it’s going to happen, something bad does happen and something bad has to happen to those who deserve it. Grau really takes you on a journey in this one.
John G. Avildsen had an interesting career. There are movies like Rocky and three Karate Kid films, along with Save the Tiger, W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings, Lean on Me, Neighbors and this 1983 kind sorta coming of age film.
Rick Malone (Christopher Atkins) is one of the more popular students at his college and used to getting away with just about everything. However, when he makes a joke of his speech professor Faye Hanlon’s (Lesley Ann Warren) final, she fails him and forces him to take the class again.
Faye and her husband Whitney are going through a rough patch after he gets laid off, so when her sister suggests that they go to a strip club, she jumps at the opportunity. There, she watches Ricky the Rocket perform and realizes that he’s her student. Of course, she’s soon going to be cattle-prodding the oyster ditch with the lap rocket, as they say, with Ricky so that he can get his grades up.
Of course, this is going to end with Faye’s husband shooting at Ricky on a boat dock while demanding that he strip. So, there’s that.
The movie itself may not be much, but the soundtrack has all sorts of great stuff on it, like Jan Hammer composing much of the music, along with Bryan Adams’ “Heaven” and “Obsession” by Holly Knight and Michael Des Barres. That song would be covered a year later by Animotion and become a much bigger song.
Deney Terrio, the man who taught Travolta to dance in Saturday Night Fever, the man who hosted Dance Fever, the man who sued Merv Griffith for sexual harassment, the man who sued Hasbro for making a Littlest Pet Shop gecko disco character named Vinnie Terrio is also the man who appears in this film.
Also, for those who care about these kinds of things — you know who you are — Atkins has no underwear on for his love scenes.
“The battle for the mind of North America will be fought in the video arena: the Videodrome. The television screen is the retina of the mind’s eye. Therefore, the television screen is part of the physical structure of the brain. Therefore, whatever appears on the television screen emerges as raw experience for those who watch it. Therefore, television is reality, and reality is less than television.”
As a kid, David Cronenberg used to pick up American television from across the border and worried that he’d see something he wasn’t supposed to see. Videodrome’s CIVIC-TV was based on the Canadian television network Citytv, which had a show called The Baby Blue Movie that played stuff like Camille 2000 and Wild Honey. There’s also an urban legend that Cronenberg saw Emanuelle In America and wondered how anyone could enjoy a movie that combined sexuality with snuff footage. I don’t know — or care — if that story is true. I’d like to just have complete faith in it.
The director was between Scanners and The Dead Zone and got a bigger budget on this movie than he never had before. Of course, it barely made its money back yet became a classic film, which is usually the way of the world.
Max Renn (James Woods) is the president of CIVIC-TV, a Toronto UHF television station that shows footage on the absolute limit of what is allowed to be shown on TV. One of the satellite dish operators shows Max Videodrome, which is either coming from Malaysia or Pittsburgh — as a lifelong resident, I am pretty pleased with that — that shows people being tortured and murdered with no storyline to get in the way.
Max’s lover, Nikki Brand (Debbie Harry) is so turned on by Videodrome that she goes to try out and never returns. Max is now obsessed and learns that the channel is so much more than just a video show. It may also be the voice of a political movement.
Media theorist Brian O’Blivion is the only person who can guide Max further down the tunnel. At the homeless shelter where O’Blivion’s daughter Bianca (Sonja Smits, The Pit) conducts marathon TV watching experiments. He soon learns that O’Blivion was killed by his partners who created Videodrome but lives on in the hours of video footage he created. Oh yeah — Videodrome also creates brain tumors and hallucinations which are both the symptom and the cause.
Videodrome is really part of an ideological war between its sex and violence-obsessed viewers and Barry Convex (Leslie Carlson, Black Christmas) and the Spectacular Optical Corporation, a combination ophthalmology and arms company. They program Max — via videotapes inserted into a vaginal opening in his chest that causes his body to transform and even grow a gun in his hand — to murder anyone that gets in their way, which may or may not all be hallucinations, until Bianca reprograms him to start killing for her father’s cause, shouting “Death to Videodrome. Long live the new flesh.”
That new flesh means ascending outside of the bonds of our normal form, which for Max means suicide. Or does it? There were plenty of endings made for this movie, including one where Max, Bianca and Nicki appear on the set of Videodrome, all with slits in their chests filled with sex organs. As an atheist, Cronenberg cut this ending, as he felt it may make people think he believed in Heaven. He was also forced to cut all manner of berserk things from the script, like Max having a grenade for a hand, as well as him melting into Nicki as they kissed and a total of five more characters dying of cancer.
This sequence sums up why I love this movie so much:
Max Renn: Why do it for real? It’s easier and safer to fake it.
Masha: Because it has something that you don’t have, Max. It has a philosophy. And that is what makes it dangerous.
You can hear dialogue from this movie in tons of songs, including “Microphone Test” by Meat Beat Manifesto, “Master Hit” by Front 242, “Children” by EMF, “Draining Faces” by Skinny Puppy, “Scared to Live” by Psychic TV and so many more.
For a movie made in 1983, it really could have been made today. There’s so much to experience here and I will be going back for another experience. See you in Pittsburgh.
Directed and produced by Charles Band, Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn feels like the movie that goes with all of my favorite stoner metal albums. It’s also in 3D, which makes it even better and it was already a movie in which the bad guys spray people with green drugs that put them into a dream state where they’re killed with crystals.
Dogen (Jeffrey Byron, who co-wrote The Dungeonmaster) is a space ranger searching for the supernatural evil that is Jared-Syn, the leader of the One Eyes who have torn out their own eye and started a holy crusade against the humans that have come to their planet. Except that Syn is probably not really one of them and just wants to destroy everyone.
Our hero rescues Dhyana, a crystal miner’s daughter played by Kelly Preston, and together they meet a prospector named Rhodes (Tim Thomerson), who takes him to the nomads. This leads to a battle with one of them, Hurok (Richard Moll, whose shaved head for this movie led to the producers of Night Court loving that look) that ends with them as friends.
I kind of love that this movie combines a western, a post-apocalyptic movie, science fiction, sorcery and whatever else it feels like throwing at the screen. I just wish that I had seen it in 3D as a kid, because I really feel like my life would be in a very different place today as a result.
The world needs more movies that make as little sense and are as entertaining as this.
Editor’s Note: This review ran on October 17, 2019. We’re bringing it back for our “Hikmet ‘Howard’ Avedis Week” of reviews.
Hikmet (or Howard) Avedis studied at the University of Southern California and won the George Cukor Award, which totally prepared him for a lifetime of working in exploitation fare. With titles like The Stepmother, The Teacher (consider it the grindhouse version of The Graduate), The Specialist (where Adam West fights against the water company), the Connie Stevens’ classic Scorchy and the utterly baffling sex comedy/giallo They’re Playing With Fire, Avedis may not have made Oscar-worthy pictures, but he certainly knew how to entertain. He also wrote this movie along with his wife Marlene Schmidt, who also acted in this movie (as she did in nearly every movie he made).
Known internationally as Embalmed and Hall of Death, this film has shown up on a few of the top ten slasher lists that we’re putting together for later this month. It’s a great example of what happens when a slasher strays from the form somewhat and you get the idea that this movie is kind of like a carny haunted house, ready to scare you at every turn.
Wealthy psychiatrist Dr. Parson has died and only his daughter Christie (Mary Elizabeth McDonough, Erin Walton from The Waltons and one of the stars of the abysmal Funland) believes that there was foul play. The official word is that he drowned and that’s good enough for her mother Eve (Lynda Day George!), who doesn’t believe the dream her daughter had where dad was bludgeoned with a baseball bat. Oh yeah — she also sleepwalks all the time.
But let’s forget about all that. Let’s get to the mortuary, where Christie’s boyfriend Greg Stevens (David Wallace, who was also in Humongous) is stealing tires with his friend Josh. After all, if Hank Andrews (Christopher George, never far from his wife, in one of his last roles) isn’t going to pay Josh fairly, they may as well take what they want.
While they’re in the midst of this larceny, an occult ritual just happens to happen, with Hank leading a bevy of gorgeous women in what is called a seance. Josh is unfazed, as he claims that this kind of thing happens all the time. He goes off to get the tires and gets stabbed for his efforts. Greg can only watch as someone drives off in his van.
Greg and Christie search everywhere for Josh, including the local roller skating rink because it’s 1983. There’s some insanely great roller skating footage here, if you like that kind of thing. You know that I do.
As Christie drives to her family’s mansion the next day, a car starts to follow her. Soon after her arrival, a hooded figure begins to follow her around the pool where her father died. Her mother claims its all a dream.
The next day, Greg tells Christie that her mother was one of the women in the ritual he watched. That makes sense to her, because now Eve and Hank are shacking up and her dad’s corpse is barely cold. If things couldn’t get weirder for our heroes, Paul (Bill Paxton, who shows up in so many great films of this era), the son of Hank, begins getting hot and bothered for his soon-to-be stepsister. He’s even weirder than his dad, but that’s probably because his mom killed herself.
Greg and Christie try to hook up, but her entire house goes wild, with lights flashing on and off, music playing by itself and even the film seeming to stop and start. It’s a great sequence and really sets up the gaslighting — or supernatural attacks — that Christie is forced to endure.
Greg and Christie decide to follow her mother, who heads right to the mortuary. Stranger and stranger? It gets even more so, as a cloaked figure who looks like Paul attacks Christie that night and in a shot that looks similar to Suspiria, almost pulls her out of a glass window.
While Eve again says it was all a dream, she does have one oddball theory: Paul used to be a patient of her dead husband and he was obsessed with Christie, talking about her the entire time. This is soon followed by Paul, clad in a latex mask, appearing and stabbing Eve in her bed. He attacks Christie and brings her to the mortuary, claiming that he intends to embalm her alive.
Hank arrives to stop him and we get the villain moment where he explains his actions: he had to punish everyone, like Eve for telling Christie he was insane and Dr. Parson for putting him in jail. He then goes one step beyond by stabbing his father just in time for Greg to try to save her. A battle leads to Greg getting locked in the embalming chamber while Paul arranges all the bodies of his victims for a wedding ceremony.
You know how weddings go — you spend much of the the time conducting a symphony. Paul does exactly that while we see all of his victims, including his mother who was in a coma and not dead. What follows is a battle between Paul and his scalpel and Greg with an axe, ending with Christie sleepwalking her way into killing the villain with one hack of the axe into his back. Our heroes embrace, just in time for Paul’s mom to awaken from her coma and attack them with a knife, probably because she saw the end of Carrie and knew this needed one more jump scare.
We’ve talked about Gary Graver and his work for Orson Welles, in the adult film industry and within films like Texas Lightning, Sorceress and Trick or Treats, amongst other films. His cinematography makes this movie a cut above ordinary slasher fare.
Shirley Muldowney is the First Lady of Drag Racing and the first woman to receive a license from the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) to drive a Top Fuel dragster. After getting over that obstacle, she won the NHRA Top Fuel championship in 1977, 1980 and 1982, becoming the first person to win two and three Top Fuel titles. She’s ranked 21st on ESPN’s list of the Top 25 Drivers of All Time and fifth on the National Hot Rod Association’s 50th-Anniversary list of its Top 50 Drivers. A member of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and Automotive Hall of Fame, she also had a song written about her by L7 and is one of the many women brought up by Le Tigre in the song “Hot Topic.”
Back in 1956, Shirley Roque (Bedelia) married auto mechanic Jack Muldowney (Leo Rossi), despite her father Tex (Hoyt Axton) wanting her to rely on herself. By the time she’s ready to race a decade later, with her husband as her mechanic, she has to get three signatures from other racers to even be considered.
She does, starting with “Big Daddy” Don Garlits (Bill McKinney) and Connie Kalitta (Beau Bridges), who has already fallen for her. The film is just about their relationship as it is the races, but it’s still worth a watch.
Director Johnathan Kaplan mainly works in TV these days, but he had success with this film and The Accused. He also directed the Reform School Girl remake and Bad Girls, a female centric western. Before those films, he made some greats for Roger Corman, like Night Call Nurses and The Student Teachers before directing Truck Turner, White Line Fever and Mr. Billion, a bomb that tried to introduced Terrence Hill to American audiences.