Thursday, July 14, 2011
GHOST of DRAGSTRIP HOLLOW
I'll have to give Ghost Of Dragstrip Hollow credit because the only actual drag racing in the movie was done by two of the female characters. I thought this was quite unique for 1959. No one in the movie, with the exception of one girl's father, seemed to think there was anything out of the ordinary about female hot-rodders.
The movie begins with the above mentioned drag race through what I assume was "The Los Angeles River" where many years later they filmed the racing scenes in Grease. The Good Girl, Lois, gets away but The Bad Girl wrecks her car. Lois makes it back to the gang's hot rod club but is later confronted by the Police and gets charged with illegal racing. In a plot recycled from many other teen exploitation movies, the gang is going to lose their clubhouse/garage because they can't pay their rent. Connected to the garage is another part of the clubhouse: a small diner/music club ......a garage and a diner....this place is huge!....NO wonder a bunch of teens can't pay the rent!!!
In the diner part of the clubhouse, The Renegades are playing. This band had an interesting line-up, it featured drummer Sandy Nelson (Teen Beat, Let There Be Drums and a slew of drum LPs), Bruce Johnston (future Beach Boy), Nick Venet (who signed The Beach Boys and produced some of their early albums) and Richard Podolor (future producer of Three Dog Night and Steppenwolf). The Renegades play one instrumental, ""Geronimo", which includes firing guns into the air and then are joined by some of the girl members of the club who sing "He's My Guy".
When Lois' parents find out about the trouble she has been in they ground her, but agree to let the gang come over for a party since she can't go out....Ahh, don't you just love permissive parents! In the meantime Lois' crazy Aunt Anatasia arrives with her crazy parrot (Do All Parrots Sound Like Gilbert Gottfried?). She just happens to own a haunted house the gang can use since they got kicked out of their clubhouse.....to clarify, the aunt owns the house, NOT the parrot. Ghost Of Dragstrip Hollow even has some social commentary at the party when a couple of the adults talk about how much pressure the kids are under having to live in the atomic age.
After the boys leave, the girls have a slumber party and and play a new record by The Renegades, "Charge". At the same time they are watching an old black and white Western movie on TV, which featured the Calvary charging the Indians...well I assume the movie was in black and white...but it's actually hard to tell since Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow itself is in black and white. The next day Lois, who is still grounded from driving, has her crazy aunt, who doesn't know how to drive, agree to drive her out to the haunted house. This results in a wild ride with the parrot making wisecracks the whole time (listening to the parrot's voice, I'm pretty sure this must have been Gottfried's father or grandfather!).
A lot of spooky goings-on happen at the old house, but the teens aren't deterred and decide to put on a Spook Ball and raise money. The party features The Renegades doing "Ghost Town" and a very square looking dude, Jimmy Maddin (who just happens to be the music coordinator for the movie and must have decided to coordinate himself into the film) sings a song called "Tongue Tied".
Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow really starts to fall apart at the end. There's another drag race between the two girls, but it happens off screen. There's a talking car (all of a sudden I felt like I was having a Disney flashback). The final odd bit is we find out the person who is haunting the house is someone who was let go from a movie studio. The motive as to why he is haunting this particular house is never explained. An interesting footnote: the guy playing this part is actually Paul Blaisdell, a famous special effects guy, wearing one of his own creations from The She Creature. Despite the weak and confusing ending, if you're into 50s teen movies, you'll probably dig Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow.
I couldn't find a trailer, but below is a clip from the movie with The Renegades doing "Geronimo".