Written by Puño Estupendo
If you say "Roger Corman" to someone, it seems like they are either completely "in the know" or are happily ignorant of what that name means. I'm not ashamed in the least to say that I love what that man's done, but don't necessarily love all of the movies he's brought into the world. So when I see a DVD with the "Roger Corman" banner on the box art, there's a pretty fair chance that I'm going to check it out at some point.
Eat My Dust is a nice little slice out of time from the 1970s involving stock cars, beer drinking, short shorts, and Ron Howard. Released in 1976 and directed by Charles B. Griffith, it focuses more on fast driving and "good ol' boy" humor than it does on plot or character development. Everything you need to know is all given to you in record time: within the first 15 minutes or so.
Hoover Niebold sneaks his friends into the local stock car races for some semi-rowdy fun and teenage carrying-on. Ron Howard is outgoing and confident in the role, generally likable right away. Hoover's supposed to be quite the character even though his only claims to infamy are a Civil War-styled hat, a jacket with a bunch of racing patches, and "more speeding tickets than anyone else in the county." That would be Puckerbush County to be exact, where Hoover's biggest problems seem to be his father the sheriff and his lack of a blond girlfriend in hot pants. He gets a quick chance to rectify the second problem, but it's going to be hell on the first one.
The blond in hot pants is a little out of Hoover's league wants to go for a fast ride, but Hoover's truck can't give it to her. However, she sees one that will do just right. Big Bubba Jones has his winning stock car within pointing distance and she seals the movie's plot by aiming her finger at it and saying, "I want a ride in that car." Hoover obviously has it bad for her so it doesn't take long for him to be peeling out of there with hot pants riding shotgun and his friends in the back of Big Bubba's (now stolen) pride and joy. This all takes place by the 17-minute mark. From then on it's chase, chase, chase, with Hoover's dad trying to get all of the parents in check and putting a stop to this situation.
There's a huge group of secondary characters in use here. You've got the bumbling police force, the "good ol' boy" car racers, the parents of Hoover's friends, and some miscellaneous one- or two-line jokesters. I knew I was going to like this cast when I saw Clint Howard show up as one of Hoover's buds, but what sealed the deal for '70s fun was when Dave Madden (Reuben Kincaid from The Partridge Family) comes on screen as Big Bubba Jones.
Now, admittedly so, I understand that's not much of a plot but that's not what you watch these movies for in the first place. What there is to be enjoyed from watching Eat My Dust is the joy of a time and place with movies that just couldn't happen now. This flick has every cliché in the book and you love it for it. Cars driving through buildings, fruit baskets and crates that are stacked in the street for no apparent reason, everyone has a beer in their hand while they're behind the wheel, and there's no such thing as sexism. You know the drill. You've seen this kind of action played out a gazillion times and yet it's fun here.
For the Corman fans out there, you get some nice little asides. Director Griffith wrote Death Race 2000, which was directed by Paul Bartel, who makes a minor appearance as one of the kid's dad. Griffith also wrote the 1959 classic A Bucket Of Blood, which turns out to be a tavern of some sort in Puckerbush.
This is the kind of movie that should always be playing on some cable station on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. It's not the best movie of its kind but you won't need it to be. Just lie on the couch and smile; it's that kind of movie.