Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Speed Lovers

Looks like we've got ourselves another theme week! Unlike the first time, this one is the result of a double feature. For some reason, I have two car racing based B-movies here, and the first one up on the plate is The Speed Lovers.

Once upon a time, writer/director/actor - and I use those terms quite loosely - William F. McGaha stumbled on some stock footage of a stock car race along with a stock car race driver named Frank Lorenzen. So, he decided that he'd use that opportunity to make a name for himself and a film he could star in. The auteur thus strung together a story about himself, as Scott, a car racing hopeful who has never actually raced before. While real car racers generally work at it from childhood, steadily improving their skills and getting into bigger and more powerful vehicles, he somehow believes that he can suddenly be the best racing driver in the world, instantly. He's looped into a highly ridiculous scheme run by Victoria and a fat guy - Peggy O'Hara an David Marcus - to make money and screw over real life racing driver Lorenzen.

The race footage is pretty solid, if disjointed. Lots of action, crashes, all of that fun stuff. Sure, the races aren't really easy to follow, but is pretty interesting. Surprisingly enough, Lorenzen is a better actor than one might expect for a racing driver. No, wait, that's not quite right, he really isn't a very good actor at all, where did I get that idea? Oh right, it's because everyone else is very bad at acting. It's like listening to the conversations of a forest, everything's wooden. The shining star of bad acting is McGaha, who doesn't seem to quite know his lines - which he wrote. The best part is that he gives himself the opportunity to be drunk, and dance, even though the concepts of drunkenness and dancing seem to be completely alien to him, like explaining the idea of swimming to a man in the desert.

His script is similarly well executed. The dialog manages to be both overly expository yet astonishingly vague. We're never given more than the roughest idea of what anyone or anything is, but that rough explanation is repeated constantly. Combined with the poor delivery and awkward phrasing, and it's like being bludgeoned with a particularly dull tree. Plus, the hero is amazingly unsympathetic. He's got an ego, he's annoying, he's a drunk, he screws everyone over, and he's an asshole. Yet, we're supposed to pull for him. Contributing to the joyous crap parade is some hilariously inept sexism. Characters are constantly saying things about how useless women are, dropping the lines with as much verve as everyone else in the film.

Oh, but crappy dialogue isn't the only wonder on display. We have a film about speed that never really leaves hotel rooms. But maybe that would be okay if the hotel rooms were filmed well, right? Well, after bringing together his racing relics McGaha seemingly had no money on such basic implements like a tripod. The camera simultaneously moves constantly and not at all. The framing is static, but the camera never stops shaking. Truth be told, the racing stock footage is good, but one can instantly tell where the stock ends and the footage shot for the film begins.

The theme song is remarkably annoying as well, though I like the band they got to perform it. Why? The same reason I love Cheap Trick, the drummer looks like an insurance salesman.

McGaha was a man with a dream, he wanted to be a star. He wanted to be a triple threat, a writer, director and actor. Unfortunately, his direction is inept, his writing is comically awful and the less said about his acting the better. It's a bad movie, poorly done in every conceivable manner. Let's all just forget about it yet again. Until next time, where we have the other half of this double feature.

Yet I'm intrigued to see that he went on to play Jesus (!) as the leader of a biker gang (!!) doing LSD (!!!). I wonder how bad that is.

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