Eat My Dust

Starring: Ron Howard, Christopher Norris, See more

Director: Charles B. Griffith

Way back in 1976, actor-director Ron Howard made a bargain with shlockmeister producer-director Roger Corman. It went something like this: Corman agreed to produce Howard's feature directorial debut, the 1977 Grand Theft Auto, and Howard agreed to star in another of Corman's pieces of drive-in fodder, the quirky Eat My Dust! Written and directed by Charles B. Griffith (a favorite screenwriter of Corman's who penned the original Little Shop of Horrors, among many others), Eat My Dust! is as wacked- out as anything to come out of the American International Pictures factory, and it is still surprisingly fresh and funny. Howard plays Hoover Niebold, son of a small-town, no-nonsense sheriff (Warren J. Kemmerling) and a prime candidate for dreary obscurity with his nowhere job and dull love life. Hoover takes a risk and asks out a popular girl (Christopher Norris), but after she demands that he steal the car of a professional racer (Dave Madden), the young hero abandons his innocence for a wild ride. Griffith hammers on the chase action sequences, bolting a camera to the car's hood to instill maximum vertigo in viewers, and constantly finding new and witty ways to jazz up scenes of speeding autos terrorizing the roads. But the real hook is the film's distinctive mix of youthful energy and comic irony, the latter exploding in Griffith's gallery of rural half-wits and neurotic, middle-class stereotypes. A whole cloth Z vision of teen rebellion writ large, Eat My Dust! is a corker. --Tom Keogh