Thunder Road

Thunder Road (1958, Dir: Arthur Ripley)

Back in the day Robert Mitchum was one cool cat. In this 50s hot roddin’ classic he plays Luke Doolin, a Korean War vet and Tennesee moonshiner who is up against a rival who wants to take him out. Luke also has to evade the coppers who are on his tail at every turn on the backroads. The scenes with Luke driving are largely done with rear projection mixed with live action but the film really flies by due to it’s sharp pacing, character development and smooth style. LISTEN TO THE MAIN THEME

Vanishing Point

Vanishing Point (1971, Dir: Richard C. Sarafian)

Kowalski (Barry Newman) is an automobile delivery driver who must get a 1970 Dodge Challenger from Denver to San Francisco for his latest job. To add some fun to his road trip he bets his speed dealer that he can make it there in under two days. What begins as a simple cross country drive scenario becomes an existential piece about his life. As Kowalski races on the highways and bi-ways outrunning the police who are out to stop him, he remembers his past and how he got to where he is. He also meets a variety of odd characters on the way. The music on the soundtrack/radio is provided by a DJ named Super Soul (Cleavon Little) who shares a strange extra sensory connection with Kowalski who he calls “the last american hero”. There’s amazing car stunts and plenty of burnin’ rubber but nice moments of introspection too. WATCH THE TRAILER

Mad Max

Mad Max (1979, Dir: George Miller)

In a post-apocalyptic Australia, the Main Force Patrol guards the desolate outback highways from the roving bands of outlaws who drive suped up cars and cycles and terrorize anyone who crosses their paths. Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) is a good hearted cop with a wife and new child, and does his job well but also begins to fear he’s beginning to enjoy the demise of the criminals he pursues too much. When he confronts a gang of motorpsychos led by “The Toecutter” (Hugh Keys-Byrne) his life gets thrown into a deadly tailspin and he soon goes mad for revenge. I’ve always looked at this film as a spaghetti western with cars. The 1981 sequel The Road Warrior should also be mentioned here just because it actually gets even more furious action wise. Both are Ozploitation treasures. WATCH THE TRAILER

The Fast and The Furious

The Fast and the Furious (2001, Dir: Rob Cohen)

This film is basically a remake of Point Break (1991), except the surfers are replaced with auto racers. It stars Vin Diesel in the Patrick Swayze role and Paul Walker in the Keanu Reeves role. What’s funny is that Walker even sounds alot like Reeves. Check out the last shot of both films, even those are similar. Regardless of the similarities plotwise, this is modern carsploitation at its best. It went on to have several successful sequels with more on the way. WATCH THE TRAILER


Speed (1994, Dir: Jan DeBont)

There’s a bomb on your bus and if the speed drops under 55 mph it will explode. What do you do? What do you do? Keanu Reeves is Jack Traven a hotshot policeman who chews gum. When a disturbed terrorist (Dennis Hopper) fails at killing a bunch of people on an elevator in the opening of the film he decides to try something a bit more easy next: he detonates a bus. Enter Annie (Sandra Bullock) a ditzy gal that boards another L.A. city bus which also has a bomb attached. When Jack finds out about this new threat, he’s determined to save the folks onboard by any means neccessary. The thrills are non stop in this 90s high octane road potboiler that will have you on the edge of your seat the whole time. One of the best action films of the past 20 years. WATCH THE TRAILER

Smokey and The Bandit

Smokey and The Bandit (1977, Dir: Hal Needham)

“Yeeehoooo!!” That’s my impression of Burt Reynolds aka Bo “The Bandit” Darville, a legendary southern trucker who decides to accept a bet with “Big Enos” Burdette (Pat McCormick) and his son “Little Enos” (Paul Williams). The deal: Bandit must get a truckload of tasty Coors beer (illegal in certain states) from Texarkana, TX to the “Southern Classic truck rodeo” in Georgia without getting caught. Bandit invites his best pal Cledus The “Snowman”, a fellow trucker to drive the shipment while he accompanies him in a super fast Pontiac Trans Am. Along the way hes gotta outrun the cops, led by the loudmouthed Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason) and he also meets a pretty runaway bride (Sally Field) who tags along with him. It’s a high falutin’, eastbound and down, good ol time with plenty of highly charged chase sequences and lots o’ laughs. WATCH THE TRAILER

Death Race 2000

Death Race 2000 (1975, Dir: Paul Bartel)

In the future, the USA has been ruined by financial bankruptcy and devolved into a fascist regime. Meanwhile, the entertainment world introduces extremely violent gladiator type sports. One that has become a favorite is the Annual Transcontintental Road Race in which drivers gain points by killing pedestrians. The infamous champion of the contest is “Frankenstein” (David Carradine) a black clad in leather demon of the road who is rumored to be part machine. His racing competitors are a colorful bunch of characters that include “Machine Gun” Joe Viturbo (Sylvester Stallone) and “Calamity Jane” Kelly (Mary Woronov). Death Race 2000 is a beloved cult classic that, with its gallows humor, low budget charm and hokey production design never fails to bring a smile to B-movie geeks. WATCH THE TRAILER

The Driver

The Driver (1978, Dir: Walter Hill)

Director Walter Hill had quite a run of great movies in the 70s and 80s. In his 1978 crime film, Ryan O’Neal is “The Driver” a professional robbery getaway wheelman. Bruce Dern plays “The Detective”, a cop who will stop at nothing to bring The Driver in, even break the law. The film may be short on plot, but it’s long on action and suspense. The blazing car chases are some of the best ever shot. If you’re looking for a raw, pedal to the metal, no holds barred, breakin the law type movie, this is your ace in the hole. Inspired in part by Jean Pierre Melville’s Le Samourai starring Alain Delon. WATCH THE TRAILER

Gone in 60 Seconds

Gone in 60 Seconds (1974, Dir: H.B. Halicki)

The late H.B. Halicki independently financed, directed and starred in this carsploitation classic. His character Maindrian Pace is an auto insurance investigator who has a little job on the side: he’s a master car thief. The story centers around a plan to steal a large number of cars in a short amount of time but the movie’s main highlight is the 34 minute car chase with Pace and the cops that features the legendary Ford Mustang Mach I nicknamed “Eleanor”. The film was remade in 2000 and starred Nicolas Cage. I think it’s actually a really entertaining update of the original. Both films are recommended to car movie fans. WATCH THE ORIGINAL TRAILER

Dirty Mary Crazy Larry

Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (1974, Dir: John Hough)

Larry Rayder (Peter Fonda) is a race car driver who needs a nice chunk of money to get back into the NASCAR circuit. His plan is to rob a supermarket along with his faithful auto mechanic Deke (Adam Roarke). Meanwhile, Larry’s latest fling, Mary (Susan George) decides to tag along on the criminal excursion. Their heist goes off as intended, but soon with Larry’s wreckless personality the police become involved led by the surly Captain Franklin (Vic Morrow) who makes it his personal aim in life to take the three outlaws down. The movie is one long chase packed with live action car stunts that make today’s CGI bullshit look like exactly what it is. The dialogue and interaction between the lead players is a main factor that just adds to the fun. Fonda’s Larry is a rebel with a mouth to match his motor, constantly cracking jokes. This one is a 70s drive-in masterpiece. WATCH THE TRAILER

Are you a furious car film junkie like us? If so, let us know some of your favorites!



Editor-In-Chief of The Grindhouse Cinema Database/Furious Cinema contributor. Pete is a rabid movie geek who enjoys everything from wild n' crazy exploitation/cult flix to big budget mainstream classics. His other interests include: graphic design, cartooning and music.

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  1. December 19, 2011

    […] • 10 Fast and Furious Films […]

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