Grindhouse tease 

Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (Supercharger Edition)
Anchor Bay

When NASCAR heads Larry (Peter Fonda) and Deke (Adam Roarke) pull a complicated heist of a small-town grocery, things go well. Their getaway in a mean Dodge Charger, however, does not. For one, Larry's previous night's conquest — the lovely hussy Mary (Susan George) — decides that she's coming along for the ride. Worse, the town sheriff, Everett Franklin (a classic Vic Morrow performance) is out for robber blood.

Morrow's Franklin is a hardcase cop who eschews guns and a badge, even refuses to cut his non-regulation hair. He steals nearly every scene too. And Fonda did most of his own driving here — at real, white-knuckled speed — which adds to the up-tempo, chase-movie glory. George's Mary is a goofy sexual delight with the most beautiful, fucked-up teeth you're likely to see on a leading woman.

The 1974 flick showcases extraordinary chase scene after chase scene, including several with Morrow, who, rather worryingly, mans a pursuit helicopter, and another that sees a cop cruiser fly ass-first into a lake! As Larry says, "All you gotta be is willing to take it to the max." It's got grease, guts, killer sideburns and loads of sexual tension, plus what might be the longest chase sequence in film history.

Bonus features include a terrific look-back documentary with director John Hough and cast, and a vintage 1969 Dodge Charger commercial to boot. —Steven Darson


Thunder Road

No doubt ol' Bo and Luke wore out their BetaMax version of this 1958 drive-in classic. In the end, neither the mountain nor the law gets Robert Mitchum's hard-driving bootlegger Lucas Doolin. (No, he meets his end from a combination of his own bloody-mindedness and a moonshining version of Wal-Martization.)

When big-city gangster Carl Kogan moves into backwoods Kentucky to absorb the local mom-'n'-pop corn-squeezin' operations into his own mega-racket, Doolin and his kinfolk find themselves stuck between their natural enemy, the U.S. Treasury Department, and the much meaner mob. In a bit of pre-Nam "destroy the village to save it" thinking, the revenuers chop up their local stills to keep them from Kogan, but Doolin rounds up enough booze to make One Last Run, and tears off to meet his doom. Along the way he stops to lecture the inevitable kid brother (Mitchum's real-life, talent-challenged younger sib James) not to follow in his greasy tire tracks, and break the hearts of both a love-struck hillbilly girl and a nightclub chanteuse (a sleepy Keely Smith).

Neither mobsters nor feds are a match for Doolin on the blacktop. Not only are his souped-up Fords tricked out with racing plants, oil slick sprayers and quick-release valves for dumping illegal cargos, they're apparently able to survive rollover crashes without a scratch. Much of the road action is dated, but there's plenty of daring car handling on display, and the wrecks and explosions are gut-wrenching even by today's standards. Bonus: Mitchum produced and co-wrote the picture, and even wrote its tragic ballad theme song! —Sean Bieri


Vanishing Point
Fox Home Entertainment

Unlike the limp 1997 "remake," Kowalski ain't trying to get cross-country in record time to be with his wife. No, the existential speed-freak's on a speed trip, in every sense of the word. See, if Kowalski (Barry Newman) can get from Colorado to San Francisco in 15 hours — manning a supercharged Dodge Challenger — he gets his bennies for free. That's the deal. If not, it's double the coin for the dope.

The speed-bet breakdown begins when Kowalski runs two cops off the road to avoid a pull-over. A bone-jarring, feature-length chase ensues that puts him head-to-head with bigoted cops, wandering desert revivalists and naked chicks on motorcycles.

A product of its time, Vanishing Point's central character stands for freedom, exemplified by a blind DJ named Super Soul (a pre-Blazing Saddles Cleavon Little) whose radio show blow-by-blows call Kowalski "the last beautiful free spirit on this planet." The film's ending is perfectly symbolic.

Newman's performance is appropriately vacant (with big curls and marriage to the wheel, Newman is definitively the proto-Hasselhoff), as it's the Challenger that's the star.

In describing Kowalski's car, Vanishing Point gives us one of the all-time greatest straight-faced, nonsensical police A.P.B.'s: "We have reason to believe that it's supercharged, so maintain double-alert until you spot it." Eventually, and often, the police do.

Bonus features include commentary from directory Richard Sarafian and both U.S. and British versions of the film. —Steven Darson

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