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Action-Packed Collection


A triple feature of carmageddon with only one good film

Rod Lott April 5th, 2011

Buckle up, because Shout! Factory has unleashed a triple feature of carmageddon in the two-disc “Action-Packed Collection,” itself among the "Roger Corman's Cult Classics" collection.

actionpackedcollection

Befitting of the word "triple," three movies are included: "Georgia Peaches," "The Great Texas Dynamite Chase" and "Smokey Bites the Dust."

But before you call shotgun, note that only one them qualifies as good; we'll start with that one.

Give producer Corman his due: He gave audiences what they wanted. In 1976's "The Great Texas Dynamite Chase," all of five minutes pass before the TNT of the title comes into play. Wouldn't your standard studio offering wait until Act 2?

"Chase" details the crime spree of criminal Candy (Claudia Jennings) and fed-up bank teller Ellie Jo (Jocelyn Jones) as they travel through the Lone Star state, robbing banks via their good looks and sticks of dynamite. The cops eventually wise up — well, maybe not the one who reads Beaver magazine in his patrol car — but the ladies have their way of manipulating men.

It plays like a proto-"Thelma & Louise" without the gloss, preachiness and Oscar aspirations. In other words, I rooted for Candy and Ellie Jo more, although they're clearly bad guys, er, ladies. We know Jennings, a former Playboy centerfold, was cast for her bod, but she proves herself a game comedienne, which makes her accidental death at the ripe old age of 29 all the sadder.



"Georgia Peaches" is actually a TV pilot from 1980 that, thankfully, never became a series. On this print, it's called "Follow That Car," which I like better, because the alternative sounds like either a girls' softball team or an indoor football league. Either way, it's exactly like the kind of film where you'd expect Dirk Benedict to pop up playing a character named Dusty Tyree and say things like "I'm madder than a cat in a gunny sack" ... and holy heck, he does!

He's the token male in dreck that plays like a gender-flipped version of "The Dukes of Hazzard," with singers Tanya Tucker and Terri Nunn (of Berlin, of "Take My Breath Away" fame) in the leads as moonshine runners. It's cornier than cornpone, as if a "Hee Haw" skit were stretched mercilessly to feature-length.

Speaking of stretched, try as Tucker's hip-hugging outfits might, Lane Smith steals the show as a Treasury agent with a funny hat. That Tucker, she can sing, but Lord, she cannot act; Nunn can do both, and better. Sally Kirkland's in it, too, surprising not acting like a kook, nor looking like a total mess.



And no one associated with "Smokey Bites the Dust" can do anything of value in Corman's 1981 attempt to fool moviegoers into thinking they were seeing a "Smokey and the Bandit" sequel. The poster proclaimed it was the "1st comedy made expressly for the insane!" For once, this is not just standard Corman hype.

Then-teen idol Jimmy McNichol (brother of the more famous Kristy) stars as juvenile delinquent Roscoe — "he's wild, he's nervy, he's a one-man demolition derby!" — who is hateful from the very first scene, in which he goads the flick's Jackie Gleason lookalike with a valiant cry of "Adios, pork roast!" via the CB (Google it, kids) in the tangerine convertible he's stolen and taken for a joyride.

The movie is an extended joyride, if shorn of all joy, as Roscoe basically kidnaps the out-of-his-league sheriff's daughter (Janet Julian, aka TV's "Nancy Drew") he crushes on but doesn’t know he exists, and off they go, from one jacked car to another. It's scattershot and shapeless, with dumb dialogue exchanges to fill in the space between banjo-pickin' chase scenes:

Roscoe: "Hey, your father tried to kill me."

Peggy Sue:  "Don't worry, next time he will."

Roscoe: "Have any ChapStick?"

Ugh, it's so stupid. How stupid, you ask? Unbearably so: A deal made between a redneck and Arabs for a million clams is soured when the Arabs pay with — spoiler alert! — a million clams. Wah-wah-wahhhhh. It should come as no shock that you can hear an actual kazoo on the soundtrack. Blame falls squarely on writer/director Charles B. Griffith, who scripted some classics — not just Corman classics, but B-movie classics — beforehand in "Little Shop of Horrors," "A Bucket of Blood" and "Death Race 2000."

If you're keeping score or just skipped the first paragraph, "Action-Packed" finishes at 1-2, not in your favor. Yet that one winner is "Dynamite" enough to spring for the whole set, which — in true Corman fashion — is ridiculously cheap already. —Rod Lott


 
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