Hot Rods to Hell review

:. Director: John Brahm
:. Starring: Dana Andrews, Jeanne Crain
:. Running Time: 1:32
:. Year: 1967
:. Country: USA


With a title like Hot Rods to Hell, you might expect a movie involving bad-ass Mad Max type drivers and menacing leather-clad bikers; even the movie poster warns you with a "hotter than Hell's Angels" slogan. What you get instead is a group of rich teenagers who, by contemporary standards, look as menacing as Happy Days' Richie Cunningham (though to his credit, Mr. Ron Howard can be scary, at least whenever he menaces to adapt Dan Brown's mumbo jumbo; but that's another story …).

A pretext for car chases and 60's rock and roll rebellion, Hot Rods to Hell follows the dangerous journey of a family, which while cruising through the desert, gets harassed by a bunch of teenagers in hot rods.

A great moment of corny nostalgia filled with overacting and laughable moralizing, don't expect to see some Marlon Brando or Peter Fonda bravado here. Almost looking like a propaganda piece aiming at celebrating the virtues of a white middle-class Republican America, the film is set like the combat between good family values and a young generation corrupted by vice. While the message carried by the film through the character of the father (Dana Andrews) is quite laughable, the film is even more amusing when you see that these dangerous kids look as strong as your local computer nerd, drink orange juice rather than alcohol and smoke cigarettes instead of taking drugs.

As for the car chases, they are unsurprisingly dull, scenes that were designed as thrills at the time now fall flat. But what the film might be most memorable for is for some great lines of dialogues which were aimed at being serious but now turn out to be unintentionally hilarious; for example you can hear the mother tell her daughter: "every woman on earth wants a man" or the following exchange between two teenage boys talking about girls: "You think all women are the same?" - "No, they have different names".

In the end, you probably already guessed it, Hot Rods to Hell was able to leave a mark as a testimonial to 60's campiness but, despite its amusing facture, fans of cult cinema might look somewhere else to satisfy their thrills. This film is too polished and politically correct to be considered like a guilty pleasure.

  Fred Thom

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