Buena Vista // 1976 // 89 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // September 28th, 2007
Opie's got game.
From Roger Corman, Eat My Dust is a tale of teenage lust and the criminal extremes that such blind infatuation can drive a horny boy to. That boy is Hoover (Ron Howard) and though he's a decent kid, he does have one flaw: speeding. He proudly boasts about having the most speeding tickets in town, despite the fact his father is the sheriff. One day, while at the races, Hoover notices a gorgeous blond bombshell named Darlene (Christopher Norris), a beauty that is way out of his league, but the kid is relentless and his hormones aren't letting go.
She brushes him off repeatedly, until Hoover finally figures out how to woo her...that's right, carjacking! When Hoover nabs the number eight stock car, affectionately referred to as "Mabel," all hell breaks loose. Darlene jumps in, as well as like 30 other people somehow, and it's off to the races, as Hoover keeps his driving just a few paces ahead of all his pursuers.
So, let me ask you this? Are you in the mood for some car chasin'? Because, brother, that's what Eat My Dust is, one prolonged car chase, chock full of wrecks, high-speed maneuvering and physics-defying vehicular tomfoolery.
Right away, let me just say that yes, this movie is actually about as fun as it sounds. Corman knows what the moneymaker here is and it's goofy teenagers driving an awesome car wicked fast while police cruisers get into horrifying crashes. He wisely keeps the film riveted to that play-by-play, and this leads to a brisk pacing, pausing only to allow Hoover to get his groove on in a farmhouse.
The chase scenes are quite entertaining. There is no shortage of cars that end up on their roofs and the mayhem is ratcheted up to greater degrees of strewn debris as the film progresses. Cars fly into buildings, tear apart a Chinese restaurant, flip over other cars, cruise down a slope and roll about 50 times, and sail off of a cliff. What's groovy is that all this reckless abandon is done for real, like it should be done. In fact, there were more than a few driving stunts that made me question the sanity of the stunt drivers.
There is however, on exception: as Hoover and Darlene attempt to outrun the cops, they decide to jump the car over the roof of a shed. But, halfway through, the movie pauses, the car freezes and Darlene says "Put it in reverse!" and the film is rewound. Yes the movie is corny, but this bit was a little too corny for the universe Eat My Dust takes place in.
But that's being a nitpicker. There is much fun to be had here. Ron Howard, building on his success on Happy Days nails the uppity teen routine and Christopher Norris plays the seductress-with-shorts-that-are-painted-on very well. Again, the real stars of the film are the cars, though, and Corman keeps the camera on the wild driving, while also blending in enough humor to keep the atmosphere light, in spite of the numerous felonies our hero piles up and the assumed fatalities left in the wake of his shenanigans.
There is one good thing about this DVD and that's the 10-minute retrospective "How to Crash on a Dime: The Making of Eat My Dust" It's a nice compilation of cast and crew reminiscences. Beyond that, there's not much here worth noting. The transfer is full frame and spotty (though it could have been a lot worse) and the 2.0 mono soundtrack is very shallow. Also, the film is PG, though discerning parents should be aware there's innuendo and mild language throughout.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Buena Vista
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 1976
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Making-of Feature