It may be stretching things to call this trio of films Cult Classics
(although Hot Rods to Hell
does have its own fan appreciation website), but they provide more than enough cheap thrills and guilty pleasures to make this set irresistible to aficionados of BG (as in "so Bad they're Good") films. Whether it be Disney's Bon Voyage
or Hostel: Part 2
, travel has provided Hollywood with no end of horror stories. In Zero Hour
(1957), it's not snakes on a plane, but tainted halibut that provides the terror, and with both pilots incapacitated by their unfortunate meal choice, it's up to traumatized pilot Ted Stryker (Dana Andrews) to overcome his "war record" and land the plane. If you're a comedy buff, then surely this scenario sounds familiar. Well, it should be familiar, and stop calling me "Shirley." This is the film that Jim Abrahams and the Zucker brothers mercilessly and meticulously spoofed in Airplane!
. It's all here, right down to little Joey's visit to the cockpit (but without any references to gladiator films) and the rich dialogue the Airplane
crew lifted nearly verbatim ("It's a different kind of flying altogether").
Andrews is back in the driver's seat in Hot Rods to Hell (1967), a film that loses a little something when not heard through the tinny speakers of a drive in theatre. Andrews stars as a man forced to put the brakes on the kicks-crazy hot-rodding punks terrorizing his family. "These kids have nowhere to go," a local cop stoically observes. "And they want to get there at 150 miles an hour." Laurie Mock costars as Andrews' conflicted teenage daughter who catches the leader's eye (he's tired of "stale bread" Mimsy Farmer). The dialogue is wicked cool and the overwrought acting all over the road. In short: don't let this pass you by. Andrews isn't on board in Skyjacked (1972), but we feel more confident with Charlton Heston at the controls as the no-nonsense pilot ("That man doesn't fool around," a colleague observes), whose plane is being hijacked to Moscow. The cast is a made-for-TV movie lover's dream, with Yvette Mimieux as a stewardess in peril (and Heston's former flame), Susan Dey, former football great Roosevelt Grier as a cellist, Walter Pidgeon as a senator, James Brolin as the very wired Vietnam vet, and Claude Akins providing ground control. This one's more of a bumpy ride, but the cheesy dialogue, earnest performances and soap opera developments keep Skyjacked flying high. --Donald Liebenson
Hot Rods to Hell: "These kids have nowhere to go, and they want to get there at 150 miles an hour." Dana Andrews and Jeanne Crain are straight-arrow parents as the cult-movie rubber meets the road.
Skyjacker: There's been a change in flight plans. Pilot Charlton Heston has a sky full of trouble when a deranged passenger brandishes a grenade. John Guillermin (The Towering Inferno) directs.
Zero Hour!: Can anyone fly this crate? Food poisoning strikes the crew of a DC-4, so traumatized war vet Dana Andrews takes the controls. Happy landings--and don't eat the seafood entree!