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Austin Chronicle Scanlines

By Jerry Renshaw

JULY 13, 1998: 

The Glory Stompers

D. Anthony Lanza (1967)
with Dennis Hopper, Jock Mahoney, Casey Kasem, Lindsay Crosby

Terrific drive-in biker movie trash with Dennis Hopper as the deranged leader of a Harley gang (The Black Souls) who have a run-in with the Glory Stompers, man. They whup the livin' daylights out of the leader of the rival bunch and leave him for dead, then kidnap his girlfriend with the idea of taking her to Mexico and selling her on the white-slave market. The dude, of course, doesn't die and hooks up with a retired Stomper to search for the missing girl. They find her, and there's a showdown at the end. Simple, really, but what you gotta love is the screenwriters' all-too-common inability to distinguish between hippies and bikers (check out the bizarre love-in segment in the woods) and the lack of tattoos, grimy clothes, and fucked-up hair on the bikers. Ever called anyone a "mother-lover"? Also contains a great Bronson Canyon acid bad-trip sequence with a blond biker rolling around on the ground and hollering about bugs, a bearded Casey Kasem (!) as comic relief, and Hopper going inarticulate and doing a pre-Blue Velvet Frank Booth-style freakout. The astonishing mosquito-like fuzz guitar soundtrack doesn't identify Davie Allan & the Arrows, but if it's not, I'll kiss Casey Kasem's hairy pseudo-biker butt ñ I'd know the sound of a Mosrite Fuzzrite a mile away. You may not run across The Glory Stompers in the video stores all that often, but if you do, grab it.


D. Paul Bartel, Donald Simpson (1976)
with David Carradine, Robert Carradine, Gerrit Graham, Veronica Hamel

Roger Corman's Death Race 2000 brought on a rash of ripoffs, and this Bicentennial-year entry is one of the first and best. David Carradine is the leader of the pack in an illegal cross-country auto race; Veronica Hamel (Hill Street Blues) is his unwilling girlfriend along for the ride. Bill McKinney plays Carradine's psychologically damaged sidekick driving a similarly obnoxious orange Trans Am to confuse the opposition. Carradine's arch-rival (Carl Gottlieb) drives a badass black Plymouth GTX , gets serenaded endlessly by country-music twangin' passenger Gerrit Graham and plays dirty pool. There are babes, car crashes, wrecked car/non-wrecked car continuity errors, a German driver who blows up real good, and Corman reg Dick Miller, but what you want to watch for are the truly amazing cameos. Sharp-eyed viewers will spot director Corman, Martin Scorsese, Sylvester Stallone, Joe Dante, and Paul Bartel in bit parts while Mary Woronov takes an incredibly long time to maneuver her van through a multi-car pileup. Sure, it's a ripoff. Sure it's brainless. Cannonball is still a definitive drive-in car chase flick that's gonna make you want to tromp the gas pedal and burn rubber on the way home.

Eat My Dust

D. Charles B. Griffith (1976)
with Ron Howard, Rance Howard, Clint Howard, Corbin Bernsen

Ron "Opie Cunningham" Howard stars as a sheriff's son who steals stock cars and takes his girlfriend for a ride in Eat My Dust.

Before he lost his hair, Ron "Opie Cunningham" Howard starred in this saga of a sheriff's son who steals the best stock cars off of a race track and takes his girlfriend for a joyride. Naturally, mayhem ensues. Paul Bartel handled the screenplay and shows up a time or two in the movie. In a way, it's an archetypal car-chase flick, with next to no plot and a lot of cars flying through the air, engines roaring, tires roasting, sheetmetal bending. The only problem is it seems like it could be set in Tennessee or Alabama rather than California. Viewing suggestion: Gather your friends with a bottle of Maker's Mark and suggest a drinking game; everyone do a shot every time you spot a boom mike. Just be ready to call a cab for your bourbon-sodden friends at the end of the night, 'cause you'll knock the hell outta that bottle.

Truck Stop Women

D. Mark L. Lester (1974)
with Claudia Jennings, Dolores Dorn, Paul Carr

A bevy of gear-jammin' bombshells run their own little ol' smuggling and prostitution ring out of a truckstop and kick the stuffings out of any man who dares to interfere. The Mob decides they want a piece of the action and won't take no for an answer, so it's all-out war between the gals and the goons. A guy gets trampled in a trailer full of cattle, an 18-wheeler goes off of a cliff, women (including dead Playmate Claudia Jennings) shoot Thompson guns and a lot of guys get their dicks twisted in knots. It's actually kind of an interesting paradox, because here's a movie aimed at the Southern Pabst-Blue-Ribbon-and-pickup-trucks drive-in market, but it also carries a not-so-subtle feminist subtext. Hey, any movie with music by Big Mack & the Truckstoppers and the jaw-dropping physique of Russ Meyer reg Uschi Digart can't be all bad. The politically astute will remember that Texas senatorial embarrassment and presidential hopeful Phil Gramm got into some trouble in the '96 campaign when it was revealed that he helped line up financing for Truck Stop Women. If only he'd thought to get royalties from video rights.

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