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by Rob Gonsalves

"Rodriguez' original grindhouse tribute."
4 stars

This was the first of Showtime’s ten-film 'Rebel Highway' series, which either remade AIP juvenile-delinquent flicks from the ‘50s or just used their titles.

Robert Rodriguez (then 25 and coming off his famous $7,000 debut El Mariachi) was probably the only director of the ten who drew more on his memories of Happy Days and Grease than on memories of actually living in the ‘50s. His movie is also probably the best of the series, though by Rodriguez’ standards it’s sometimes draggy.

David Arquette is Dude, a cool rebel who constantly smokes Luckies and wants to “make music that scares people,” like his idol Link Wray. Salma Hayek is his girlfriend Donna, a Mexican girl adopted by white parents. William Sadler is a wiener-sniffing sheriff who has a grudge against Dude’s father and sends his punk son (Jason Wiles) to kill Dude. John Hawkes is Dude’s weird, movie-obsessed friend Nixer, who talks and acts a bit like Rodriguez’ weird, movie-obsessed friend Quentin Tarantino.

There’s some great rockabilly and surf music (a couple of songs here were heard in Pulp Fiction, released a few months later) and a funny skating-rink scene.

Not much of a story, but energetic and entertaining, with the usual whiplash editing by Rodriguez.

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originally posted: 04/05/07 12:27:19
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  22-Jul-1994 (R)



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