Color, 1978, 92 mins. 9 secs.
Directed by Howard Avedis
Starring Patrick Wayne, Priscilla Barnes, Mitch Vogel, Lindsay Bloom, R.G. Armstrong, Anthony James, Cameron Mitchell, Gary Davis
Code Red (Blu-ray & DVD) (US R0 HD/NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)
It's hard to believe Crown International wasn't behind the 1978 backwoods favorite Texas Detour, which feels for all the world like something they'd put out. Bright colors, young B-level stars mixed with seasoned character actors, budget-conscious car chases... yep, we're in firm drive-in territory here.
Patrick Wayne (son of John and star of Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger one year earlier) headlines here as Clay, a California guy who heads across the country with his brother Dale (Vogel) and sister Sugar (Bloom). On the way through Texas their van ends up getting swiped from under them by some escaped jailbirds, which puts them in the less than hospitable sights of local sheriff R.G. Armstrong. Some friendly help can be found in the form of sunny local Claudia (a pre-Three's Company Priscilla Barnes) who becomes Clay's bed mate, and even Cameron Mitchell pops up in a glorified cameo as her nasty dad with a really odd skin tone. Things get treacherous when Claudia's twisted brother Beau (James) tries to rape Sugar and ends up getting offed in a bar brawl, with the three siblings framed for the crime and sent running from the law. Car chases and explosions ensue.
Buoyed by a fun pop-rock soundtrack (some trying with hilarious effort to sound like Bruce Springsteen) and gratuitous dirt biking, this one's a lot of fun with Wayne and Barnes (who supplies an amusingly extended topless scene because, well, it's 1978) enjoying some especially nice chemistry together. There's also a nice supporting turn by pretty Kathy O'Dare in her last screen role from a short-lived career that also included Eat My Dust.
Long out of circulation on home video, this came to DVD in early 2016 looking especially nice from Code Red (sold via Diabolik or directly through its store) with a very clear, vivid new widescreen transfer and handful of bonus trailers for Family Honor (of course), This Is a Hijack!, Top of the Heap, Zebra Force, Splitz, and The Guy from Harlem. In 2017, the label revisited the title for a Blu-ray release taken from the same excellent condition negative, looking even more finely detailed via a fresh scan and with similar coloring timing as well as a heftier DTS-HD MA English mono track.
That Blu-ray release is touted as a double feature with Cuba Crossing (91m52s), a 1980 programmer that opens up decreeing itself as "a motion picture dedicated to all people who desire to live in a free democratic society." What we have here is basically a really battered widescreen (1.78:1) standard def transfer for this yarn from Chuck Workman (documentary director and longtime Oscars editor) previously released on VHS as Kill Castro and on the reissue circuit as Sweet Dirty Tony (the title this print in question actually bears). Down in Florida, former CIA operative Hud (Robert Vaughn), who insists "I don't have time for friends," gets pulled into a plot to take out Fidel Castro and enlists the aid of buddy Tony (Stuart Whitman) to get him there. Unfortunately they get stuck in the middle of a backstabbing heroin deal as the whole thing turns out to be some kind of shady international shell game. More interestingly, this one has a crazy supporting cast including Woody Strode, Sybil Danning, Raymond St. Jacques, Albert Salmi, the gravely-voiced Michael V. Gazzo, and the always welcome Caren Kaye, not to mention a bar fight involving sailors, iguanas, and a drag queen crooning "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend." Then there's a chubby-chasing kid named Jackson, a disco-scored wrestling match between two muscular dudes in g-strings, a shark attack, baseball stock footage, and death by giant carnivorous turtles. Yep, it's a weird one. Trailers are also included for Devil Woman / Dragons on Fire, Lightning Bolt, Passion Plantation, Exorcism's Daughter, and Sole Survivor.
Updated review on October 14, 2017.