A super obscure z-grade crime thriller from 1962, with a budget to match its low rating. Also known as "Hell Drivers" or "Drivers to Hell." Copy from the DVD box: "After serving many years in the state pen, Duke Walker (Sydney Mason) is getting out. He'll be heading to a little truck stop and diner in the southern California desert, where his sweetheart, Hazel, (Francine York) is waiting for him. Not far from there lies his reward for biding his time: $250,000 in cash, lying safe in its hiding place amongst the rocks and cactus. Duke can almost taste the good life...but he's not the only one. It seems he may have been a bit too chatty in prison, and now a thug named King Tut (Edmund Tontini) and his gang are very interested to learn where Duke has planted all that cabbage. With stakes this high, things are likely to get very dangerous and deadly!" Not mentioned there are Hazel's most recent "boyfriend," Bill, who's been hanging around the diner/motel for a couple of months now. He doesn't take kindly to Duke strolling back into Hazel's life after being gone for 12 years.
Let's also take a moment to mention a familiar name/face to Grade Z movie fans, Ray Dennis Steckler, appropriately weaselly as one of King Tut's stooges, "Preacher", who has an unhealthy obsession with his MG rag top. This is one of only three acting credits in a film he did not direct.
Speaking of directing, I was delighted to find that director Rudloph Cusumano also directed another lovable crap-fest I have reviewed here on the IMDb, "Jive Turkey," a dire blaxploiter, as well as the legendary "Varan The Unbelievable." Interesting directing resume there.
Anyway, this film is pretty awful, technically. I doubt its budget was as high as that suitcase full of money they're looking for. It has the worst day-for-night shooting since Ed Wood's Plan Nine From Outer Space, and some of the set-ups are so static that I had balloons stuck to my TV set(ha!). At least there's a bit of driving around the desert to liven things up once in a while.
The writing is no piece of cake either. Duke and Hazel go out into the desert to "go camping," when suddenly they are menaced and attacked by King Tut and his goons. Plenty of ripe, tough-talking dialog ensues, but the plot unfolds pretty predictably.
*** SPOILERS ON THE ROAD!! ***
We all know what's going to happen: the bad guys turn against each other with greed in their hearts, and everybody that deserves to get killed does. About the only twist, revealed at the very end, when the police show up, is the fact the Bill isn't really Bill, he's a private eye named Tom trying to track down the missing money for the insurance company. He and Hazel go off into the sunset together.
*** SPOILERS OVER ***
Acting isn't too bad, actually, for this type of cheap-jack chaff. The bad guys are appropriately slimy, back stabbing and two-timing, and the female lead is, I guess, appropriately passive for back in the day, though it's disheartening to realize such a limp, ineffectual femme could be believable only four years prior to my birth. But times do change. Sure, she does plenty of arguing and yelling, but she could have escaped at several junctures, or fired guns, but does not do so.
SUMMARY: Only fans of low-budget schlock need apply. You might find some enjoyment if you're an Ed Wood or Ray Dennis Steckler fan, or maybe Coleman Francis. Budding MSTies will enjoy. Otherwise, stay away.
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