Ron Howard’s move from sitcom star to director began with playing the lead in this Roger Corman-produced car chase flick, after which he would move to behind the camera to direct Grand Theft Auto. Here he plays the son of the local sheriff. In an effort to impress the girl of his dreams (Christopher Norris, and yes, that’s a woman’s name), he steals a stock car, and he and his friends then lead the authorities on a merry chase. As is typical of Corman productions, this works hard at delivering, on a stringent budget, exactly what its audience wants. Writer/director Charles B. Griffith was responsible for some of the better scripts to come out of the Corman stable (It Conquered the World, Little Shop of Horrors, Death Race 2000), and some of his trademark wit is on display here, but without the snap of the better films. It feels much more forced and laboured. The film clips along just fine, but today is little more than a curiosity.
Well here’s something interesting. Pick up the DVD in a store, and the box tells you the sound is 5.1 surround. Take it home, removed the slip case, take at look at the back of the case itself, and you’ll be informed that the sound is, in fact, mono. And that is the case – no stereo at all. Not that a remix would have helped much, given the evidence at hand. The track gets the job done, but only just. The sound is a bit on the muzzy side, with the music just getting by, and the dialogue, especially in crowd scenes, rather difficult to make out at times.
This is supposed to be the “supercharged edition.” I’m not sure what that means, but there is scant evidence of much that is charged, super or otherwise, about the disc. The picture quality is a case in point. The image is fullscreen and hardly pristine. Though the grain, dirt and scratches that mar the opening credits are less severe thereafter, they never go away completely. The film is watchable, but not much more.
I’m still waiting to be supercharged. Other than the trailer and an introduction by the ever-smooth Corman, the only extra is a ten-minute featurette where the editor, the DP, and Norris recall the making of the film. It’s a neat little feature, showcasing just how creative Corman and crew were with money, but hardly enough to qualify this as some kind of special release.
As special editions go, this is pretty bare bones. But then, would we expect anything else from the king of B-pictures?