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Cannonball
Carquake

USA/Hong Kong 1976
produced by
New World/Shaw Brothers
directed by Paul Bartel
starring David Carradine, Bill McKinney, Veronica Hamel, Dick Miller, Robert Carradine, Belinda Balaski, James Keach, Archie Hahn, Aron Kincaid, Gerrit Graham, Mary Woronov, Patrick Wright, Paul Bartel, Carl Gottlieb, John Alderman, Martin Scorsese (cameo), Sylvester Stallone (cameo), Roger Corman (cameo), Joe Dante (cameo)

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Coy 'Cannonball' Buckman (David Carradine) decides to embark on an illegal race from LA to New York to rekindle his flogging career as a frace driver - much to the dislike of his girlfriend Linda (Veronica Hamel), who is a cop & disapproves of the race because of her job, but she doesjoin him as co-pilot anyways. Coy's brother Benny (Dick Miller) on the other hand places high bets on him, totally trusting that Coy will win ... & to make extra sure, he has found a few ways to help his brother along the way - which Coy is not aware of.

Coy's competitor's in the race are, among others, arrogant German Wolfe Messer (James Keach), evil driver Redman (Bill McKinney), an extremely annoying All-American goodie-good runaway couple (Robert Carradine, Belinda Balaski), 3 horny girls in a van & family man Terry (Carl Gottlieb) ... & then there's Zippo, Coy's mechanic, best friend & greatest admirer, who all of a sudden shows up in a red Trans-Am just like Coy's & identifies more & more with his friend/idol.

Soon the race starts with all the usual cross coutnry race shenanigans, & with Benny up to some evil tricks like blowing up Wolfe's car or wanting to get rid of that other Trans-Am, but only having assaults made on Coy's Trans-Am.

Coy also gets in to more & more crash duels with Redman - his only serious competition -, which causes him to have Linda change to Zippo's car for safety reasons. & Redman finally seeems to win upper hand when he destroys the headlights of Coy's car, causing him to crash ...

Game over for Coy, is it ?

Nope, as Coy is fortunate enough that the towaway guys who take care of his carwreck are 2 fanboys who just happen to have a racing car of their own in their backyard, which they gladly offer to Coy. So the duel between Coy & Redman is on again, & they go at each other's car pretty badly on a highway-segment under construction before they both have to jump over a bridge under construction - a jump that Redman fails to make, ending his race (& life) in a big explosion).

Benny has meanwhile found out that Coy has a new car & the guy in the Red Trans-Am is someone else ... so he hires someone to shoot that driver - which would be Zippo, of course (though benny doesn't know that either). & when Zippo is shot at full speed, his car crashes, leaving Linda badly injured, but fortunately the All American couple happens to stop by & takes her to a hospital, before that little accident gets completely out of hand when more & more cars crash into the wreckage.

But who wins the race you may ask.

Is it familyman Terry, who took a plane from La to New York to avoid all the troubles of the race & spent days & days of sex with his mistress before driving over the finish line ? Nope, his mistress accidently betrays his cheating.

Is it the horny girls in the Van ? Nope, they ghet lost in Nwew York City & have a slight accident.

Then how about Coy ? Well, he does cross the finish line first (except from terry, but that was cheating), but when he hears about his brother's cheating on his behalf, he refuses to stamp his ticket (which the winner has to do in order to make his victory official), instead heads for the hospital to visit Linda.

Nope, of course it's the All-American couple that I always hoped would be the first fatality ...

 

Paul Bartel's Death Race 2000 was a clever & successful attempt to disguise political, macabre satire as an entertaining action-movie, his Cannonball on the other hand was just a quickfire attempt to cash in on the previous movie, even sharing the lead & having basically the same plot but with all the political/critical subtext amiss. Instead this movie is just broad (but not really funny) comedy which gets most of its laughs by having cars crashed (which I, admittedly, do find entertaining), while all of the leads show remarkably little in respect of comedy, leaving all the laughs for supporters like the always dependable Dick Miller, director Bartel himself as betting mogul, or Martin Scorsese & Sylvester Stallone in a very short but funny sequence as mobsters. As it is, this movie does not differ at all from the countless carcrash movies that Hal Needham would make for the majors only a short time later (like the Smokey and the Bandit or the Cannonball Run-movies), & that is not a compliment.

The involvement of Shaw Brothers, by the way, seems to have been solely financial, neither has Cannonball the typical Shaw Brothers-feel, nor any of the studio's actors or action remotely resembling the stuff Shaw Brothers became famous with.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
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shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD