15 user 2 critic

Running on Empty (1982)

This film collects just what it was like to be in Australia in the early 80's. It's about hot cars, hot chicks and hot times. The story begins when two local street racers agree to race Fox... See full summary »


John Clark


John Clark (original idea), Barry Tomblin




Cast overview, first billed only:
Terry Serio ... Mike
Deborah Conway Deborah Conway ... Julie
Max Cullen ... Rebel
Richard Moir ... Fox
Penne Hackforth-Jones Penne Hackforth-Jones ... Dave
Vangelis Mourikis ... Tony
Grahame Bond ... Jagger
Bob Barrett Bob Barrett ... Workman
Warren Blondell Warren Blondell ... Lee
Jon Darling Jon Darling ... Workman
Peter Davies Peter Davies ... Ram's Mate
Kristoffer Greaves Kristoffer Greaves ... Starter
Paul Johnstone ... Lecherous Garage Attendant
Chris Haywood ... Photographer
Maurice Hughes Maurice Hughes ... Foreman


This film collects just what it was like to be in Australia in the early 80's. It's about hot cars, hot chicks and hot times. The story begins when two local street racers agree to race Fox, the faster street drag racer there is. After two of the three race rounds, the race is no longer a game, but more of a survival! Written by Graham Wilson Jr <diex@suburbia.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He'll win at any cost... See more »


Action | Drama | Sport


R | See all certifications »






Release Date:

5 August 1982 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

Fast Lane Fever See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


First major role in a theatrical feature film for Australian rock singer Deborah Conway. See more »


In the opening scene Fox is racing a yellow 1969 HT Holden Monaro. When the HT crashes over the VW it changes into a 1968 HK Holden Monaro. Note tail lights. See more »


Rebel: Ay? Sounds like she's got a wobble in the bottom end.
See more »


Referenced in The Flying Doctors: Is Nothing Sacred? (1986) See more »


It All Comes Runnin' Back
Sung by Terry Serio
Music & Words by Peter Crosbie & John Clark
Available on Regular Records through WEA
See more »

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User Reviews

Great cars, not so hot acting
27 December 2009 | by Glen_ChapmanSee all my reviews

Whenever this film gets a mention, usually the discussion begins and ends with the wonderful collection of cars and drag scenes, often overlooked are the at times eclectic characters that populate the film around the three central characters

One character that stands out is Rebel played by the great veteran Australian actor Max Cullen. Rebel is a blind drag racer, who nearly runs down the hero and his group in the middle of the night because he is not using any headlights.

In the back story we discover that Rebel master builder of street racing cars, and he and his wife seem locked in a time warp of the 1950's. Rebel goes on to play a small but pivotal role in teaching Mike, played by Terry Serio, the almost spiritual truth about street drag racing. It is not speed, reaction times that make a great racer. It is the one who feels the car best who will become the greatest

This is best exemplified as Rebel explains to Mike after a test drive "You got all the agony, just missing the style"

Graham Bond, is another well credited actor lending his talents as a crooked police officer looking to get in on some of the financial action being generated by the street racing. The confrontation between Bond and Fox played by Richard Moir adds tension to the story. Bond not only expects results but also Fox to drum up racing business

For most of the movie Fox displays a real manipulative and evil side, yet in the climax he presents a sense of honor that turns the final few minutes into an extremely tense and memorable ending. It is almost as if the film is refocusing on its true intention, to show us the culture of street racing rather than the day to day activities of people

One of the major complaints about the film is the script. Although it is nothing exciting, I believe the complete lack of any chemistry between Mikes girlfriend played by Deborah Conway and his mechanic played by Vangelis Mourikis has more to do with the problem. Any scene in which these two interact simply should have been cut

Lastly in terms of the actors, one truly standout performance is delivered by Kristoffer Greaves, who plays a deaf and crippled member of Fox's inner circle. His back story is never explored, was he injured in a race, born that way, what is it that Fox sees value in to keep him around

The reality of the film is simple, it is about street racing, and the culture behind it. When the cars are flying and action sequences are in motion it is the only time Director John Clark and his writer Barry Tomblin seem really comfortable with what they are doing.

So if you are looking for an in depth exploration of human relationships, moments of life defining drama, then this film is not for you. If your pulse races at the thought of a blown 57 Chev or the iconic GTO Phase 3 blazing away on the streets of Sydney, then you wont find much better than this film

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