Hot Rods to Hell [DVD] [1967]

Hot Rods To Hell (also known as 52 Miles To Midnight) was the final film made by director John Brahm, whose work across most of his career was in black-and-white, and whose best work was in atmospheric thrillers, bookended most notably The Undying Monster (1942) and a brace of Twilight Zone episodes two decades later. Hot Rods To Hell is not The Undying Monster, or his best work -- it's in color, for one thing, and decidedly of its time, as a kind of topical 60's juvenile delinquency thriller -- and watching the DVD, one wonders how much Brahm could possibly have contributed on a creative level to the picture. On a technical level, however, the transfer is stunning -- having seen this movie on television in numerous showings during the late 1960's and early/middle 1970's, this reviewer can say that it never looked this good on the small-screen; and quite possibly, it never received as good a presentation in any of the theaters where it ran (one wonders if it ran anywhere but in drive-ins). The letterboxed non-anamorphic transfer (1.85-to-1) has given it a crisp, bright image and the sound is also set at a good volume, and has a good, healthy presence -- that's especially important in the second half of the movie, when the juvenile delinquency aspect of the plot comes into play, and the rock 'n' roll elements of the score, provided by Miickey Rooney, Jr. and his combo, turn up; and from there on the picture takes off along with the music. The movie has been given an astounding 24 chapters, and the menu opens automatically on start-up. The only bonus is a trailer, but it is difficult to imagine what kind of special features -- other than interviews with surviving cast members (and there are a few) -- there could be in a film such as this.
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Special Features

  • Theatrical trailer
  • Subtitles: English & Français


Hot Rods to Hell
In this youthful actioner, two young hot-rodding hoods torment a family while they are en route to a motel in the California desert. The film is also known as 52 Miles to Midnight. The family goes there to take over the establishment. When they finally arrive, tired and frightened by their ordeal, they are horrified to discover that the ramshackle inn is all but abandoned but for the teens who use it as a place to drink. The father and his clan then head for his brother's house 52 miles down the road. Again the young hoodlums launch a vicious attack. Something inside the father snaps. Suddenly stopping his speeding car, he aims his headlights right into the windshield of the oncoming teens, blinding them with the light. The kids crash. The father then forces them to promise to mend their delinquent ways. If they don't, he will send them to jail for a long, long, time. The creepy kids decide to reform. The father, decides to return to the motel and try to fix it up. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Dana Andrews
    Dana Andrews - Tom Phillips
  • Jeanne Crain
    Jeanne Crain - Peg Phillips
  • Mimsy Farmer
    Mimsy Farmer - Gloria
  • Laurie Mock
    Laurie Mock - Tina Phillips
  • Paul Bertoya
    Paul Bertoya - Duke

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