The Legend of Tarzan opened this weekend to very mixed reviews. I’m sure I’ll catch it sometime, but really, what’s the point of revisiting Tarzan yet again? This is the weekend to be swinging free in the real world, with American Independence Day, Canada Day, and many a Pride Festival and EDM event all happening. You’ve also got Cons in Washington, DC (Escape Velocity), Miami (Supercon), Baltimore (Counterpoint), and Portland (Westercon).
But we must have a Summer Weekend Review, and so, hipsters, flipsters, and finger-poppin’ daddies, lend a lobe and dig this gig from 1959.
Title: The Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow
Directed by William J. Hole Jr.
Written by Lou Rusoff
Jody Fair as Lois Cavendish
Russ Bender as Tom Hendry
Judy Howard as Sandra
Roy Wright as John Abernathy
Henry McCann as Dave
Martin Braddock as Stan
Jack Ging as Tony
Nancy Anderson as Anita
Dorothy Neumann as Anastasia Abernathy
Tommy Ivo as himself*
Elaine DuPont as Rhoda
Sanita Pelkey as Amelia
Kirby Smith as Wesley Cavendish
Jeanne Tatum as Alice Cavendish
Beverly Scott as Hazel
Bill St. Johns as Ed
Leon Tyler as Bonzo the Clown
Harrison Lewis as Frenchie the Cook
Paul Blaisdell as the Monster
The Renegades as themselves*
Jimmie Madden as himself*
Many of the characters previously appeared in Hot Rod Gang.
Available from Amazon.
The missing link between the Bowery Boys and the Beach Party Movies, Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow also nods to the as-yet un-whelped Scooby-doo. A hot rod club sets up headquarters at a beachside haunted mansion, only to discover, at their fundraising party, that the place might actually be haunted.
The film has a great title and opening, and provides a fun look at the late-50s hot rod culture, with cool bop-talk and some actual hot rod action. As a bonus, we get a gearhead nerd couple building a self-aware street rod, and long-running bit-parter Dorothy Neumann making one of her many genre appearances.
The final confrontation with the world’s least-intimidating rival gang occurs off-screen. Did they just run out of budget at that point? Did they suddenly remember they hadn’t tied up this once-central plot point?
Originality: 1/6 While the opening street race features female hot rodders– a breed rarely highlighted in 1950s b-movies—most of the movie has difficulty deciding which cliché plot it wants to rehash. Then, out of desperation, it settles on “haunted house.”
Effects: 2/6 The effects are mostly pretty bad, though the film efficiently recycles at least two monster costumes from previous no-budget films, The Hideous Sun-Demon and The Invasion of the Saucer Men.
Acting: 3/6 The acting varies quite a bit, but it’s clear nobody had much time to really develop a character. Most interesting is Dorothy Neumann as eccentric spinster “Anastasia Abernathy.” The distinctive-looking Neumann had a long career playing spinsters, old maids, prissy society ladies, witches, crones, school marms, and small-town-gossips. She started with these roles in her thirties and continued with them well into her actual old age.
Production: 3/6 American International Picture specialized in turning out high-interest movies for as little money as they could get away with.
Story: 2/6 The film sets up several plots, welded together with little concern for logic or coherence. The haunted house and titular “ghost” the movie pulls out of thin air halfway through.
Emotional Response: 3/6
Overall: 3/6 If I had you at low-budget teen hot rod haunted house comedy from the 1950s, then you should probably catch this thing at some point, preferably post-bonfire at about 2am.
In total, The Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow receives 17/42
So who are these luminaries playing themselves? If you recognized any of these names, it would be Tommy Ivo, a real-life hot rodder who had a second career as an actor. Jimmie Madden was a pop musician and, later, a night club owner.
At least three rock bands have called themselves the Renegades. None are especially famous, and the combo in this movie aren’t any of those ones.