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Pit Stop

USA 1969
produced by
Lee Strosnider for Jack Hill Productions
directed by Jack Hill
starring Brian Donlevy, Richard Davalos, Ellen Burstyn (as Ellen McRae), Sid Haig, Beverly Washburn, George Washburn, Steve Pendleton, Robert Krist, Ted Duncan, Titus Moede, Don White, Ray Thiel, George Barris, Ed Hand, Edwin Kissel, Hal Lane, Sandy Reed, Harry Schooler, Bob James, Jack Seymour
written by Jack Hill, music by The Daily Flash, John Fridge

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Grant Willard (Brian Donlevy) is one of the car race sponsors of the region, usually picking up naive guys who look promising enough in street races, and grooming them to stardom - but should they fail to perform, he drops them like flies. His latest "acquisition" is Rick, a merciless tough guy of a driver - who is arrested for crashing someone else's car in an illegal street race. Grant gets him out on bail and persuades him to become a "figure 8 racer" in no time. Figure 8 races are essentially stock car races, made all the more exciting by having an intersection at the center of the course. Rick doesn't like this at first, but the arrogance of perpetual race winner Hawk (Sid Haig) soon convinces Rick he just has to teach the guy a lesson - and the first couple of races, he fails miserably - until he gets some tutoring from an ex driver and learns from some colleagues that they just don't properly compete with Hawk because they fear his wrath - not so Rick, who actually doesn't only win the next race but also turns Hawk's car over. That same night, Hawk beats Rick to a pulp and then proceeds to wreck his car until he finds Rick's girlfriend Jolene (Beverly Washburn), a friend of his, sitting in the car, scared shitless - which makes him see everything in a different light.

Rick is too proud to not compete in the next race against Hawk again, despite still being in pain, and he wins fair and square - but this time Hawk is a fair loser and the two bury the hatchet for good.

Anyways, Rick has long set his eyes on a higher goal, to compete against Ed McLeod (George Washburn) in a higher class and away from the spectacle-first figure 8 races - and Grant Willard tells him he's got his back there, though he's only interested in playing one driver against the next to help his own interests. Rick and Ed become friends even (even though Rick starts an affair with Ed's wife [Ellen Burstyn] behind his back), and eventually they learn they are to race national champ Sonny Simpson (Ted Duncan) - and device a plan to outsmart him via clever team work ... but Rick wants more, at any cost ...


In a way, one has the feeling Pit Stop is all too often undecided which way to go: It tells a serious and intelligent story but is full of clichés and grindhouse appeal, the acting is pretty great but the characters are flat, and the direction can't decide whether to go for the story's emotional center or just pure spectacle ... but really, who cares? The film is great, and first and foremost thanks to the many great, brutal, tense car races, the many wrecked cars, overturning vehicles and the like. Sure, most of the footage might be from actual races, but the camerawork captures the action and excitement of the sport really well. Plus, the cars are just awesome to look at.

In short, if you're into vintage cars crashing into one another, you'll love this movie ... and if you're not, you definitely will be after seeing this!!!


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD