Rev up your engines you juvenile delinquents as a little seen film by Robert Rodriquez barrels onto Blu-ray. Well, it did come out on VHS – remember that? The film is a homage to those 1950s rebel teen films and for a film shot in a total of 13 days actually comes out looking more like a hot rod than a clunker.
Dude (David Arquette) has big dreams but he’s stuck in his small Texas town smoking cigs and driving around in his hot rod with his girl Donna (Salma Hayek) and his buddy Nixer (John Hawkes). One evening they meet up with Teddy (Jason Wiles) and a war of words is only fueled by a flicked cigarette that sets alight the hair of Teddy’s girl (Tammy Brady Conrad). Now Teddy wants revenge as Dude also runs afoul of policeman “Sarge” (William Sadler) who also happens to be Teddy’s dad.
Rebel Highway was a Showtime series that harkened back to the 1950s American International Pictures rebel pictures but remade them with a modern spin (well 1990s spin). The first film out of the gate was Roadracers helmed by a little known director named Robert Rodriquez. We know him now thanks to his low budget entry El Mariachi (1992) and he certainly learned budget stretching ideas and techniques on that film.
The million dollar budget must’ve seemed like a windfall compared to the pennies he made El Mariachi for. He certainly commands much bigger budgets these days, but still uses the skills honed in his earlier films - especially since it took 13 days to get Roadracers raced into completion.
Not to mention his love for the films that this series was created to hearken back to, especially Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It would also bring Hayek more to the forefront and guarantee her a spot in Rodriquez’s Desperado (1995), his sequel to El Mariachi.
He does great things here with his budget and it would become a hallmark of his career. Arquette appears to be cast against type, but this was early enough in his career that his type hadn’t really been established. Sadler has fun with the role and the whole film has a great vibe to it. Not to mention a great soundtrack.
Roadracers is presented in a 1080p transfer (1.78:1). Special features include a commentary by director Robert Rodriguez as well as a “Ten Minute Film School” (10 minutes obviously, standard def) about making the degenerate hot rod flick.
Robert Rodriguez takes lemons and makes lemonade – and a satisfying drink at that. His practice beforehand only honed his skills and makes Roadracers a pleasant homage back to those drive-in entertainments of yesteryear.
He was still learning but he shows that you don’t need a multi-million dollar budget to make a good movie (not that it hurts) and he still continues to illustrate that rule. Just go along for the ride.
Visit the DVD database for more information.