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Motor-Teens Go Bananas

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Posted 18th June 2010 at 01:46 PM by Sam@Cult Labs
Updated 23rd June 2010 at 08:45 PM by Sam@Cult Labs


Year: 1957

AKA: High School Dynamite! / Frug School / Drag Race on Suicide Alley

Tagline: "Hey Daddy-O! Boss Wheels!"

Hal Manciano jumped on the Teen Beat bandwagon in 1957 with his spirited youth exploitation picture Motor-Teens Go Bananas (AKA Good Girls Go Ape / Burnt Rubber Hoedown).

A wry mixture of poverty row Juvie Movie and Rock 'n' Roll Musical, it's helped launch the careers of such B-Movie stalwarts as 'Heat' McGuffin (Three Knives for Sister Alison / Deadly Recipes / Appalachian Honeytrap) and Dolores Muldoon (Eskimo Go-Go / Danger: Loose Garments! / West to the Pole) as well as featuring musical appearances by some of the eras most promising beat combos (The Del-Bel-Tones / Jonny Heart-Tug & the Junebugs / Screamin' Todd Temper).

'Heat McGuffin - Press Photo from the 1958 Triton picture Vengeance of the Octogirl

Heat plays Jimmy Ray, a misunderstood Greaser with a chip on his shoulder who finds himself in trouble with the local sheriff after a drag race goes tragically wrong, killing his ex-best friend, now rival gang leader Tommy Joe.

With the law and half the town on his heels, it's a race against the clock to prove he didn't run Tommy off Hannigan's Bridge and he still needs to organize the school dance, even though the town elders have banned Rock 'n' Roll music (a riff that was picked up by Footloose a few decades later).

As with most of Hal's movies, Motor-Teens Go Bananas makes little sense, but does tick off a list of teen trash film boxes. Interupted at every turn by pop groups breaking into songs, accompanied by dizzy displays of frugging and jiving, it's best to just let the sweet 50s stylings and unintentionally humourous dialogue wash over you ("Man, you're a Cube, Rube... Quit Jivin' Me Big Daddy, before I bug out and go APE")

Dolores Muldoon Press Photo from the 1961 Tad Winters movie
Big Bad Brenda & the Buckshot Banshees

The final 15 minutes of the movie descend into a wild montage of school hop dance moves, manic Rockabilly music and a tense drag race between the Sheriff and Jonny as he tries to get back to the school before Janie Jo-Johnson (Dolores Muldoon) goes steady with Butch Clamp (Teddy Bostick - Jimmy the World's Strongest Mexican / Truckin' on Back to Tulsa / The Erotic Adventures of Alexander Graham Bell), the captain of the school Football team.

The Sheriff ditches, leaving his car a smoking ruin up in Plunkett's Field and Jonny gets back to school just in the nick of time, because Principal Wainwright (Arthur Frisk - Gordo the Unchained / Flight to Marzipan Station / Is it Legal in London? / The Lemonade Murders) has turned into a Crazy Werewolf. Cue lots of Scooby Doo style running around until the credits role.

Motor-Teens is no classic of 20th Century cinema, but if you're looking for an example of the kind of wayward trashola that plagued the 50s Drive-in circuit, then this is your film. It crams enough unrelated oddness into it's sparse 68 minute running time to keep any lover of Beehive Wigs, Dragsters and Varsity Jackets more than happy.

Filmed in Hypno-Rama-Vision, the movie is also rumoured to have existed in a rare 3D version (retitled 'In Your Face Squares!'.

One interesting piece of trivia. The spotty teen who instigates a food fight between the Squares and Beatniks in the School Canteen? None other than Franklyn Peppers, who went on to direct late 60s experimental films under the name Tulip. Examples of his work include the 1967 feature Feet, Elbow, Nape, Naval, a 24 hour film consisting of four shots of the directors body parts, shown in sequence repeatedly while the Avant-Garde soundscapes of Foster Rush torture quietly in the background. Most famously, he produced what is arguably the first profitable mix of arthouse and pornography with his 1970 stroke epic Erotic Seventh Seal.

'Heat' McGuffin - Selected Filmography

1956 Pep-O-Rama Toothpaste advert

1957 Motor-Teens Go Bananas

1957 Rumble Leather

1958 Chrome Killers

1958 Vengeance of the Octogirl

1960 Do the Monkey Aunt Jemima!

1960 Don't Shove Me Cop

1961 Dracula's Drag Strip Surfin' Bikini Hula Beach Party

1961 I dated a Martian Tramp

1961 Martian Tramp Goes to Las Vegas

1962 I Married a Martian Tramp

1963 Martian Tramps Meets the Monster from Salt Flats

1963 Three Knives for Sister Alison

1964 Drag Race to Timbuktu

1964 Teenage Cowpoke

1964 Skippin' Town

1965 Loose Cannon - Attorney-at-Law

1966 Hell Angels in Amish Town

1967 A Virgin in Biker Hell

1967 Hogtied Honeypie

1968 Ridin' Fast! Ridin' Dirty!

1968 Throbbin' Wheels

1968 Pit Stop to Paradise

1969 Appalachian Honeytrap

1971 Divorce: Hawaian Style

1972 Don't Go Into the Lake

1978 Deadly Recipes*

* Heat died from eating bad shellfish during the making of what was to be his comeback picture. Deadly Recipes is a sordid slasher about a Chef who returns to the site of a burnt out resturant 20 years after he vanished, in order to kill teenagers. It did big box office under various titles, including Too Many Cooks, Serving Suggestion and Stab Me Again, and helped to secure the actors posthumous reputation among Cult film fans.
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  1. Old Comment
    pedromonkey's Avatar
    just to let you know, i stuck to continuity for the poster as the car is a '57 chevy Bel-air, they were used by teens for drag races...
    Comment with Quote permalink
    Posted 23rd June 2010 at 09:05 PM by pedromonkey pedromonkey is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Sam@Cult Labs's Avatar
    Nice touch.

    The font is spot on as well
    Comment with Quote permalink
    Posted 25th June 2010 at 05:03 PM by Sam@Cult Labs Sam@Cult Labs is offline
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