Midnite Spares (Australia 1982)

Rating: **
Review Date: 5/5/13
Cast: James Laurie, Gia Carides, Max Cullen, Bruce Spence, David Argue

Racecar driver Steve Hall (James Laurie) comes to town looking for his missing father. His uncle Tomas (Max Cullen) takes him in, and they plot revenge against a ruthless gang of car thieves who might have something to do with his dad's disappearance. Steve also meets an adorable young woman named Ruth (impishly cute Gia Carides), and amidst all of the chaos they decide they want to get married. Everything comes to a head when the bad guys push Steve just a little too far, resulting in a warehouse raid and a deadly car chase.

Definitely anarchic filmmaking, and very little of it makes sense. It also doesn't help that the actors' thick Australian accents render them almost completely unintelligible. The majority of the film is slow and plodding, focusing on Steve and Ruth's budding romance, and the unfunny hijinks of a couple of grease monkeys named Wimpy (Bruce Spence) and Rabbit (David Argue). The car racing scenes are nicely done and capture the thrill of being just barely out of control. The final chase between Steve and the villain is extremely exhilarating, and takes place in a concrete irrigation canal (one of my favorite settings). The film ends on a somber note, with a message saying that one of the focus pullers was killed during the production. Another oddity is that the iconic imagery of Bruce Spence and David Argue having their mouths stuffed with cigarettes is nowhere to be found in the film, yet it adorns the movie poster and there's a screen shot on the back of the box. Weird.