Series Creator and Producer: John Hough, Jack Starrett
Starring: Peter Fonda, Warren Oates, Lara Parker, Loretta Switt, R G Armstrong, Susan George, Adam Roarke, Vic Morrow
This is one DVD set you can’t go wrong with. There’s Peter Fonda, Warren Oates, souped up Chevys, bad ass Mopars, and murderous Satanists. What more could you ask for?
Dirty Mary Crazy Larry
It takes a special kind of scumbag to knock over a grocery store. I’m not even sure what you call somebody who invades a store manager’s home and then terrorizes his wife and daughter to pull it off. Oh wait, you call him Dirty Larry. It’s not ten minutes in and I’m already rooting for the cops. I’m getting ahead of myself, a little background; Larry and Deke, Peter Fonda and Adam Roarke respectively, are two NASCAR hopefuls who could never come up with enough scratch to play in the big leagues. Since hard work and fair play haven’t gotten them anywhere they decide to give crime a shot. In consequence they plan the perfect crime, well you get the feeling after a while Deke planned the perfect crime. Unfortunately on the eve of their extra legal activities Larry picks the wrong girl to spend the night with. Thinking that he’s giving Mary, Susan George, the slip Larry and Deke head out to rob the store, but Mary follows and when Larry makes his way back to the get away car he finds Mary sitting in the passenger seat. And all those carefully laid plans start to come apart. Mary manages to throw a monkey wrench in all of their plans, but Larry does his damnedest to sabotage them as well. He can’t even pull out of a parking lot without raising three kinds of hell. A worse getaway driver you can’t imagine, Larry is incapable of taking it easy or laying low. He’s either standing on the throttle or the brakes one hundred percent of the time. On top of all that the Sheriff, Vic Morrow, is chasing them around in a helicopter. I’m not going to tell you if they get away or not, but if you watched a certain TV show about stunt guys made in the eighties you’ve already seen the ending.
This is a hell of a movie. It stands in the upper echelon of car chase movies, but rarely for the breed it manages to be a great movie as well. You don’t have to stick “for a car chase movie” after every statement when you talk about it. Larry and Mary are deliciously low and vulgar, in fact they‘re annoying. They do grow on you just a bit but you spend most of the movie wondering why Deke puts up with them. Annoying they may be but they are believable, real, you not only can imagine them existing it feels like you’ve seen them on an episode of COPS. The direction is interesting, the acting top notch, the script is smart and the dialog is snappy. And then there’s the stunts. The driving and smashing in this movie is sublime. Even before the days of CGI filmmakers had a tendency to push the stunts to the point of the absurd. Using cannons to literally blast cars in the air for ridiculous rollovers, hiding ramps for absurd jumps, dropping frames to make the cars look like they are going unnaturally fast, and now with CGI the laws of nature like gravity and inertia are just suggestions. There is none of this in Dirty Marry Crazy Larry, certainly not CGI, but very little of standard movie magic as well, its mostly just cars going really fast.
Race With The Devil
“We don’t need nothing from nobody” an innocent enough sentiment, but just the type of statement that will bring a whole lot of bad mojo down on you in movie titled Race With The Devil. Frank, Warren Oates, and Roger, Peter Fonda, have spent the last five years building a successful motorcycle dealership and finally its time for a little r ‘n’ r. The plan; grab the wives, Lara Parker and Loretta Switt, and pack up Frank’s new RV and head to Aspen for some fun on the slopes. Instead of pulling in for the night in an RV park, Frank insists on pulling off the road in an idyllic little spot and spending a night away from the crowds. Their solitude is interrupted when Frank and Roger notice a bonfire across the river. Frank grabs the binoculars and he and Roger creep up to get a better look. It’s not just a bonfire but appears to be some kind of funky party. There’s a bunch of people in black robes dancing around the fire. When some of the dancers start to disrobe Frank and Roger get even more interested. The titillation turns to horror when one of the party goers is deliberately stabbed. Proving Murphy was a genius, Frank’s wife chooses this moment to lean out of the RV and call for the boys to come to bed. Of course the blood thirsty revelers hear her and make a beeline for the RV. Frank manages to get the RV fired up and as they race along the dirt road back to the highway black clad figures are leaping out of the darkness at them busting out windows and scaring the hell out of everybody. They unlucky vacationers manage to fend of the Satanists and make it to the nearest town. The sheriff, R G Armstrong half heartedly checks out Frank and Roger’s story, but makes it pretty clear that he doesn’t believe that anybody was murdered. Or as the gang speculates as they head on down the road, maybe he just wants to get them out of town. The Satanists aren’t going to let them get away that easy though and soon they find themselves in a rolling siege. The RV is attacked by wave after wave of crazed devil worshipers, but Frank and Roger aren’t just any two recreational vehicle aficionados, they’re motorcycle enthusiasts and they manage to come up with cleverer and cleverer ways to fend of the hordes of evil doers.
For a budget genre movie Race With The Devil is a gem. Peter Fonda and Warren Oates and have a great chemistry together and mixing it up with them you have Loretta Switt, Lara Parker and the ever cool R G Armstrong. The plot blends horror, action, and suspense elements. The suspense and action elements it must be said end up overshadowing the horror. Despite Peter Fonda’s claims in the bonus features only the most lily livered would have ever been frightened by Race With The Devil. The suspense does work though and there are several fantastic if clichéd, at least they are now, stunts. The movie never seems to climax but it has a fantastic ending. I’m afraid that may not make any sense but watch the movie and you will understand. Even if the rest of the movie stunk, and it doesn’t, the ending would still make the movie worth watching. .
Both films are presented in widescreen format. Both transfers are from clean bright prints and both look wonderful. Each film comes on it’s own DVD so Shout Factory hasn’t had to resort to high compression to squeeze them on to one disc. In fact I never noticed any compression artifacts.
The audio is presented in 5.1 surround sound and stereo in English only. There are no subtitles. The sound is good. The dialog is always clear and intelligible, and the roar of the engines comes through great.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The two DVDs come in a single width case. The case is clear which shows off the reverse side of the insert. The insert artwork features the original movie posters. The menus are simple, easy to navigate and consistent between the two discs. For thirty five year old genre movies there is a fair amount of bonus materials. For each movie there are original promotional spots and each disc features a short film about the movies. Ride the Wild Side features interviews with Peter Fonda, Susan George and director John Hough sharing recollections about the making of the Dirty Mary Crazy Larry and Hell on Wheels which is an interview with Peter Fonda talking about Race With The Devil and his friendship with Warren Oates. On top of that each film has a commentary track. John Hough handles the Dirty Marry Crazy Larry commentary and for Race With The Devil Shout Factory has brought in Executive Producer Paul Maslansky and Lara Parker.
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10
Shout Factory has knocked this combo out of the park. It’s wonderful to see these to movies get this kind of loving treatment.
The Movie 8/10, 6/10
The Video 8/10
The Audio 7/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 8/10
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10