Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

It exists. And is bad.

I'd had a memory that was annoyingly specific: it seemed to be about a film that I couldn't even confirm had ever been made, something that if it had been made I would've seen in first or second grade (i.e. a long-ass time ago) on cable. What I pictured seemed like a low-rent, PG-rated knockoff of Mad Max: it's the future, there's almost no oil, and people have adapted by — this was one of the specific images — riding bikes everywhere, including freeways. I'd tell people what I remembered, and they'd say "Oh, you saw Americathon!" I looked up that film, which was from about the right era (it came out in 1979) and...I didn't think so? Broad comedy didn't match my memory. But nothing else seemed likely, and back then I would've had a mind malleable enough that maybe I'd invented the film out of bits of unrelated things I'd seen, but...

YEARS LATER, the podcast 80s All Over finds what I remembered! I've said before that I'm enjoying this podcast, which devotes each episode to a month of theatrical film releases from the 1980s. In April 1981 (covered in the episode posted Sunday), a joint U.S.-Canadian production called The Last Chase, filmed in Arizona and in and near Toronto, came out; by sometime in 1982, it reached HBO, and second-grade me saw it.

It's not a hidden gem. The film sucks. "It's Mild Max," co-host Drew McWeeny said, and co-host Scott Weinberg agreed. For a chase movie, it's slow. It wants to be portentous and Meaningful, and instead is leaden. Its politics, which I didn't notice in 1982, bug me: in the aftermath of a plague that kills a large portion of the population, the future U.S. government invents an oil crisis and successfully confiscates all but one car from the entire U.S. population. Widower Lee Majors owns that car, a Porsche racer, which he'd literally buried but unearths so he and student Chris Makepeace can attempt to escape from Boston to the break-away state of California, where they free!!! On their tail, eventually, is a pilot (Burgess Meredith), forced out of retirement to fly a Korean War-era F-86 Sabre and stop the roadsters. This is small-scale, almost certainly for budget reasons, but a low budget hadn't stopped the original 1979 Mad Max from being compelling and harrowing.

But I hadn't made up The Last Chase. A little more of my childhood is confirmed.


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