Hot Rods to Hell ★★★½

“What‘s left for kicks?”

A childhood perennial, re-watched for the first time in over 40 years with zero recollection of the plot. The mood of constant menace, conveyed in simplistic terms (and scenes of legit car terror) any kid would respond to, had to have been the appeal. I think this is where my preoccupation with Mimsy Farmer got its start, too — her scary, hair-trigger bad-good girl in loud, seam-busting getups left a real impression.

The adult portion of the narrative, which Brahm hits like 1951 never ended, is ostensibly laughable conservative claptrap, even if the rot and violent entitlement that threaten suburban order comes from inside. This mild self-scrutiny only serves to prop up the order, though, in a foregone pivot that lets Dana Andrews get his mojo back the old-fashioned way: through attempted vehicular manslaughter and small-stakes predatory capitalism. Try not to choke up.

On second thought, that naughty “hell” in the title was probably what kept my brothers and me coming back whenever this turned up on TV. Jesus, 1967 was a long time ago.