Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Running on Empty(1982)

I’m not much of a fan of stand alone flavor. Not that I hate mono-taste, I just don’t believe most foods work well by themselves.Can you imagine eating broccoli without butter or salt? Sure, vanilla ice cream is good, but the taste flies off the map when chocolate of any type is added? From curry to French cuisine, everybody can agree that food is always better paired with other tastes, and if you don’t agree, then you are probably the Emperor of the Land of Boring and feel sorry for you.

The same can’t always be said for film. Most Hollywood productions cater to a certain taste and don’t travel to far away from it.I myself am guilty of the same crime, as most of us are. Romantic comedies, modern, big-budget action, and chick flicks are all the same to me, but I will watch horror time-and-time again no matter how many times I’ve seen decapitations and blood sprays. Some might consider it boring and flavorless. FSM knows I do a great deal of the time, but this is how most people’s taste towards movies tend to veer.

You might ask yourself, ”Where the fuck are you going with this food and movie comparison?”

And my answer to you will be Running on Empty, a 1982 Ozploitation phenomenon that left me with a flavor explosion in my pants. I’m not going to say it was the best movie I have ever seen, but it certainly had a great deal of fun going on. If you think that a JD flick with a New Wave twist sounds interesting, then keep reading on my friend.

Mike is a factory worker with a fast car and a model girlfriend. After long days in the shop he likes to spend his days working on cars with his Italian best friend, Tony, and hanging out with his model girlfriend,Julie. Julie used to date Fox, the local Hot Rod King Douchebag, and he is none too happy about her picking Mike over himself. After a skirmish with Fox on the beach, Mike agrees to race him for money and loses, which causes a pretty severe ego bruising. After some taunting from Fox, Mike agrees to race Fox again, this time with the stakes being doubled. Unfortunately, Mike doesn't have the money, but he has a plan. He figures if he road trips in the country he might be able to raise the funds racing hicks and winning. See Mike has a fairly big ego for a city boy and doesn't realize that the country folk might be a bit more car-oriented than he prides himself on. After an unfortunate altercation with the local color, Mike realizes that his big plan might not have been the best idea. Fortunately, he and his posse are taken under the wing of and old, blind greaser and his plans for living at the top of his hot-rod game once again blossom when the old rockabilly helps Mike jack up his car to an even better state just in time for the next big cock race against the supremely creepy Fox.

Unfortunately, things don't go quite as planned and life plans don't follow Mike's dream storyboard. But he still has his honor and ego, which apparently is all a man needs in 80's Australia.

I've just got to say I think this flicked kick ass. I know nothing about cars and gearhead culture(I've never even owned a driver's license), but classic race movies like this are always fun. I may not know the operation but I understand the capability. I am, anyhow, a fan of aussie movies from this era. Great stunts, explosions, and sex. There really isn't much more to say about that. Yes, there are lots of bad movies to come out of Australia during that time, but I will still sit back and laugh at the ridiculous situations that come out of said movies. Everybody can get a chuckle out of cars that explode on impact and the willingness of the director to cater to the ego of the American male audience. If you love 70's and 80's action movies, where the male super-ego shines like a supergiant star, this is where it's at. Not to mention that the main characters provide so much entertainment as to make the movie abundant in the personality department.

I thought of the characters in this flick as an Australian government experiment in cloning the Stray Cats, but with that crazy Aussie persona. It was very New Wave era, but with less hair net and more rockabilly. The cars were fuckin' classic and the fashion was a perfect blend of Teddy Boy and glam punk. Seeing the old, blind greaser dance to a rockabilly tune, with his road hard betty put a huge grin on my face and I would have been even more satisfied if this was the soundtrack. Fortunately, I am a huge fan of synth OST, and the soundtrack was mainly this. For me, it was the best of both worlds, those being 80's synth and roots rock. The soundtrack keeps the movie interesting, in that 80's mixed with 50's JD sort of way.

Although, from what I read on IMDB, this is the quintessential Aussie Hot Rod-head movie. Most likely for the race sequences. This wasn't the crowning acheivement for me, as I have already let known. Not only was the story durable for the action crowd, but some of the comedy was spot on for those of us who look for that in a flick. For example:

"Whats ya name?"

"Piss off!"

"Piss off? What type of a name is that?"

"Its polish. Pissov's a Polish name!"

Comic genius as far as I'm concerned for a movie of this caliber.

As far as the negative is concerned, I must admit the acting wasn't great and some of the stunts were ridiculous, but i expect that out of ozploitation. It was slow at points, but the action scenes and character acting pulled it out of any slum. The fact is if you are a fan of the genre, love rockabilly culture and hot rod movies, this movie is for you. I've seen a great deal of bad shit out of the southern hemisphere and this is not one of those movies. This is something I can watch time and time again and still get the same thrill as the first time.

And here is the trailer:

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