Hot rods, monsters and rock’n’roll… a gang of greasers hole up in a haunted mansion after getting evicted from their clubhouse.
“The Hot Rod Gang meets the…GHOST of DRAGSTRIP HOLLOW”
I’ve always heard (and read) that Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow (1959) isn’t very good, so I avoided watching it for many years. Last week I decided that I should really give it a go, because you just never know…
Well, it turns out that sometimes you DO know.
I suppose it’s not all THAT bad, but it’s definitely not good. Not a lost classic of late 1950s horror cinema. Not even a super fun so-bad-it’s-good movie. Sure, it has a few moments of entertainment value, but not quite enough to make it very memorable. It’s only been a week and I’m already struggling to recall what exactly happened in it. Let me stretch back in my mind and see what stands out tor me…
Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow (1959) is mainly a car racing movie. No, that isn’t quite right. We see some car racing at the very beginning of the movie, but that’s about it. They talk a lot about cars and car racing. One of the main characters is a young woman who loves cars and car racing. She was the one racing at the beginning of the movie, in fact.
There seems to be a rivalry with another group of young car racing types. One couple in particular keeps showing up uninvited to parties and other get-togethers. The female half of that couple seems to want to challenge the young woman we know to a car race. That woman is trying to resist because it’s against the rules of the club (?) I think. But of course she sneaks off to have another race before the end of the movie. Oddly enough, we don’t see that race, we only hear about it.
“So, where’s the horror?” you might ask. Good question. There basically isn’t any. But there is a lot of talk about ghosts haunting the old house that the car racing gang decides to move into when their clubhouse is taken away from them. And of course, they do encounter some spirits in the house (or do they?).
It’s strictly played for laughs in an Abbott and Costello sort of way – but without the charm or laugh-out-loud comedy of Abbott and Costello. A lot of the gags fall flat. The writers seem more concerned with trying to capture the hip, young way of talking these characters have. But I’m not sure that any young people anywhere ever talked like this. They say things like:
It’s not a “chop,” kitten. I “purr” you. I’m not just making sound-waves. If you weren’t “jacketed,” I’d move in. Because you’re a “deb,” I mean a real “deb.”
At the very end of the movie (SPOILER ALERT) these words appear on the screen:
“The Endest, Man”
I just tried to look up the name of one of the actors and I discovered that this movie is actually a sequel to Hot Rod Gang (1958), which gets a better rating on the IMDb. Perhaps this is why I found it hard to understand what was going on.I missed the first half off the story.
Seriously, I doubt that. But I have no trouble believing that Hot Rod Gang is a better movie than Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow (1959).
Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow (1959) is not the best example of #NotQuiteClassicCinema. It’s barely over an hour, but still manages to feel too long. It has a few moments that might make you smile, and it’s certainly some sort of a time capsule, but it’s pretty forgettable in the end. You could give it a try if you’re feeling curious or brave – but you might want to consider screening Hot Rod Gang (1958) first. I know I wish I had. Maybe they would make an interesting double bill on some willing-to-try-anything-once, destined-to-be-forgotten #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.
— Angus Kohm (@AngusKohm) August 5, 2023