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Smokey Bites the Dust
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by Jack Sommersby

"Monumentally Moronic"
1 stars

A rock-bottom cinematic endeavor with all the intelligence of a Tupperware convention.

The only reason I can't outright call the atrocious Smokey Bites the Dust one of the very worst movies ever made is that calling it a "movie" in the first place is stretching the definition in that the legendary low-budget producer Roger Corman of New World Pictures has simply interspersed a meager paper-thin story with action footage from five previous car-chase movies of his (like Grand Theft Auto) so you never really know what the holy hell is going on because the footage hardly ever matches. For instance, someone is driving with nothing discernible blocking his way, but in the very next shot we see him crash into something which causes the car to explode; and in a high-speed pursuit on a beach we've no earthly idea why the car has to crash-land into the ocean being that nothing in the previous shot was obstructing his clear-as-day view. Mind you, I have absolutely nothing against a moviemaker looking to cut financial corners to give us a spirited entertainment, but what Corman has shamelessly put together here is completely and utterly contemptible because it possesses zero in the way of genuine artistry - it's more akin to witnessing the spraying of graffiti on restroom walls. What there is of the puerile plot involves high-school rebel Roscoe Wilton (played by Jimmy McNichol) so-called "kidnapping" the senior prom queen Peggy Sue Turner (Janet Julian) in a stolen hot-rod with her overly-protective father Sheriff Turner (Walter Barnes) in high-speed pursuit throughout. Don't be fooled by the title into thinking it has anything even remotely to do with the 1977 mini-classic Smokey and the Bandit, which boasted not only memorable car chases but a charismatic Burt Reynolds as the bandit and a never-better Jackie Gleason as the backwoods smokey; unfortunately, McNichol, the very definition of a pipsqueak, has all the appeal of two-week-old meatloaf, with Barnes, who was amusingly pathetic as the inept sheriff in Clint Eastwood's masterful Western High Plains Drifter, mostly pathetic this time around. (Julian is sunny, though; an attractive performer.) In making his debut screenwriter Max Apple hasn't exactly set the world on fire with dreary dialogue by the likes of "I need your protection like I need a bee in my shorts" and "Trying to get something out of him is like trying to shit in a shoe." Added to which, there's an abysmal subplot involving some Arabs looking to score some potent moonshine in this Deep South community that comes to nothing. Don't look for redeeming qualities in the directing, for the criminally-untalented Charles B. Griffith responsible for the godawful Jaws ripoff Up from the Depths can't frame an expressive composition to save his life - in fact, the framing is so unbelievably awkward I had a hard time discerning whether the movie was shot in either the 1.85:1 or 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio. In case you haven't surmised by now Smokey Bites the Dust should have a warning label attached to it saying "not fit for human consumption." It's to cinema what the Edsel was to the automobile.

The pits.

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originally posted: 11/14/20 12:55:10
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  01-Oct-1981 (PG)



Directed by
  Charles B. Griffith

Written by
  Max Apple

  Jimmy McNichol
  Janet Julian
  Walter Barnes
  Patrick Campbell
  Kari Lizer

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