Friday, January 18, 2013

#24: In Hot Pursuit

Drive In Movie Classics
Disc 7: Side A

Wacky, circus-style music plays over the opening credits of In Hot Pursuit, struggling mightily to establish a tone of pure and unadulterated zaniness that is immediately undercut by the very first scene, in which two pilots mutter disinterestedly to each other as they slowly bring their pot-filled plane in for a landing in a field somewhere in rural Georgia. Waiting for the plane are drug-runners Oosh (Don Watson), his Bad Company t-shirt-sporting brother Boosh (Don’s real-life bro Bobby Watson) and a couple other long-haired, too-tight-jeans-wearing, Doobie Brothers-roadie-looking-types. When the plane lands Oosh and Boosh hand off a sack full of money to the pilots and load the grass into their musty Winnebago. That’s when the fuzz shows up.  

“Jesus Christ!” cries Boosh in his thick Southern drawl. “Here come the damn po-lice!” Cue a protracted backroads chase--In Hot Pursuit’s raison d’etre--involving the Winnebago, half a dozen cop cars, a Cadillac-driving old-timer, and an oblivious, burrito-eating trucker who continues chowing down even after accidentally swerving his eighteen-wheeler across the road and slicing the roof off Oosh and Boosh’s RV. Eventually the boys are apprehended and brought to the local jail, whereupon Mr. King (Paul Weiner), the sweaty, thick-necked head of the drug-smuggling operation, calls in his sweaty, thick-necked associates to devise a prison break. Their brilliantly idiotic plan entails landing a helicopter on the roof of the jail, where the boys just happen to be repairing an air-conditioning unit (who knew maintenance work was such a big part of serving time?) under the watchful eye of the sheriff. As the copter descends, the boys knock the sheriff out, grab onto the copter’s landing struts and are whisked away.      

This, inevitably, leads to more chases; double crosses; an armored car heist; multiple cops bellowing slight variations on the line, “That’s the car we got a lookout on! Let’s get ‘em!”; incongruous musical cues; some extended bed-lounging; a miraculous plane-landing in the middle of the forest; and a belabored comic set-piece consisting of a massive double-wide being transported down the highway atop a flatbed, an out-of-control, dope-filled tractor-trailer, and repeated cuts to a drunken, barefoot yokel inside the double-wide napping on a dirty cot.

Between this sort of desperate humor, the largely incomprehensible dialogue, Mr. King’s wood-paneled office that looks more like one-time director Jim West’s step-mom’s rumpus room than it does the headquarters of a major crime syndicate, and the delightfully low-rent credits (one of the actors is billed simply as Big Jim, another as Mrs. Oxly), In Hot Pursuit has a scuzzy, homemade charm to it not unlike that of fellow southern-fried Fifty Pack classics Twister’s Revenge and Country Blue. Add to it the fact that the movie, also known awesomely as Polk County Pot Plane, is loosely based on one of those strange-but-true news briefs--in August 1975 drug smugglers cleared out a 1000 foot landing strip on Treat Mountain in Georgia and against all odds landed a Douglas DC-4, a plane designed for runways of 3000 feet or longer--and the whole thing seems imbued with a goofy, over-the-top sense of local pride. Then there’s that badass claim at the end of the movie--No stuntmen were used in this film--which makes Oosh and Boosh’s car-crashing and helicopter-dangling antics all the more impressive. In some ways, the movie seems like something your inebriated, hirsute, redneck uncles--you know, the ones that let you play with fireworks when you were a kid and sip from their cans of Bud Light at family BBQs--might’ve cobbled together back when they were still young, a little crazy and their ambitions extended beyond long, hazy afternoons on the couch watching NASCAR.


  1. Great review! I have been doing some research on this time in Exploitation and stumbled upon a few notes that might be of interest.

    Executive Producer Robert McClure had a long history with Southern Exploitation, and this is possibly his final flick, maybe the best executed of them all. Looking through my notes, besides the films he's listed with at the IMDb, he was also connected with Southern Exploitation legend Donn Davison, helping out with Davison's Lion Dog films, helping out with the promotion to Shantytown Honeymoon, better known today as Honey Britches.

    I think he was a part of Charlotte Booking through the wild age of Exploitation in the Late 60's and 70's and has had most of his films Distributed through the Preacherman Corporation (Rare fact: Preacherman took Brad Gritner's Made in Florida film Blood Freak to the MPAA for it's original X rating!), the exception being this film, listed on the IMDb as being through Westco.

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by and for all the info. There's quite a few southern exploitation flicks on this particular 50 pack and I have to say they've all been very entertaining in one way or another. Have you seen Country Blue, which I also reviewed here? A bit amateurish to be sure, but it has a distinct style all its own.

      I wasn't familiar with work of Donn Davison, nor the other films of Robert McClure. I have to say McClure's "Hot Summer In Barefoot County" looks promising, as does Davison's "Honey Britches." Any one of these particular titles you'd recommend starting with?