Death Car on the Freeway (1979)

Genres - Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Thriller  |   Release Date - Sep 25, 1979 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 120 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Made for television films often went to extremes to compete with their big-screen cohorts during the 1970's but Death Car On The Freeway truly takes the cake. William Wood's script is an eccentric blend of mystery-thriller, car stunt spectacular and - believe it or not - pro-feminist melodrama. The result strains credibility at every turn but keeps the viewer engaged because it is so thoroughly left-field in its approach. On the acting front, Shelley Hack is competent but a bit bland as the film's heroine. Thankfully, she is supported by a gallery of endearingly hammy supporting performances, including George Hamilton as a smarmy, sexist hubby right out of a Jacqueline Susann novel and Peter Graves, who offers an amusingly deadpan turn as a gruff, Joe Friday-esque (and rather sexist) cop. Cult movie fans will be happy to know the film also features a range of familiar faces in additional bit parts, including everyone from Dinah Shore to Sid Haig. Best of all, the film is directed in a vigorous style by Hal Needham, who pumps the melodrama up to camp-classic levels, keeps things moving at a snappy pace and draws on his stunt coordinating background to deliver several expertly-staged and filmed car stunts. He even turns in a fun supporting performance as a driving instructor who teaches Hack the art of defensive stunt-driving. In short, Death Car On The Freeway is a fun relic from the wildest era of made-for-t.v. filmmaking and delivers enough campy thrills to make it worth the hunt down for cult movie buffs.