Halloween Havoc!: THE GHOST OF DRAGSTRIP HOLLOW (AIP 1959)

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Hey all you Halloween hepcats and creepy chicks! Are you ready for THE GHOST OF DRAGSTRIP HOLLOW? And by ready I mean prepared to watch a really lousy movie redeemed only by the in-joke twist ending that’s sure to please horror fans. All you’ve got to do is slog through the rest of this nonsense… so let’s slog on!

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THE GHOST OF DRAGSTRIP HOLLOW is a sequel of sorts to HOT ROD GIRL, and  starts off as your basic hot rod drive-in flick.  Pretty young Lois Cavendish is a member of the Zenith Club, a group of hot rod enthusiasts being interviewed by magazine writer Mr. Hedley. Lois gets busted drag racing against her rival Nita, and her parents (who just don’t understand) ground her. This means she’s gonna miss the big wing-ding at the club Saturday night, but not to worry… Mom suggests moving the party to their house, much to Dad’s consternation.

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Dad’s “favorite client” Anastasia Abernathy and her annoying talking parrot Alphonso just happen to be visiting that weekend, which makes for a lot of goofiness involving the teens and the adults. Nita, her boyfriend Tony, and their gang (consisting of Nita, Tony, and two others) try to crash, but Lois’s boyfriend Stan chucks them out. Then the “cats” leave, and the “kittens” have a slumber party where of course no one sleeps, especially put-upon Dad (oh, the hilarity!).

Lois gets a call from Stan saying the bank is foreclosing on the Zenith’s clubhouse, and kicking them out. Things look bleak until Anastasia offers to let them have her place out on Dragstrip Hollow, that is if they can get rid of the ghosts haunting the joint! Lois, Stan, and gang all spend the night in the creepy manor, compete with weird noises, moving fireplaces, floating candles, and a monster (to be specific, the monster from 1956’s THE SHE CREATURE!).  They decide to hold a “spook ball” the next night, with everyone dressed in scary costumes, while the band plays “Ghost Train”:

Finally everyone unmasks and the She-Creature is revealed to be none other than monster maker Paul Blaisdell , who’s been haunting the house because AIP has tossed him aside! “I scared you to death in THE DAY THE WORLD ENDED, you shivered when you saw me in SHE CREATURE”, whines the 50’s greatest rubber-suited monster. “Oh the shame of it, the indignity! They didn’t use me in HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSEUM, they just discarded me!” Blaisdell gets chased off by one of the girls, the teens dance away, and the credits tell us it’s “The Endest, Man!”

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Aside from the gag with Paul Blaisdell (whose alien head from INVASION OF THE SAUCER-MEN is also used here), this hot rod/horror hybrid offers little of each. It’s mostly a teen comedy, with lots of rock’n’roll songs interspersed. The band is drummer Sandy Nelson (who had a hit with “Teen Beat”), future Beach Boy Bruce Johnston, and future record producers Nick Venet and Richard Polodor. Lou Rusoff’s self-referential script served as a template for his BEACH PARTY , spawning a whole new genre. Director William Hole was one of those Hollywood jacks-of-all-trades with credits as producer (TV soap PEYTON PLACE), assistant director, second unit director, production manager, and script supervisor. He did direct one interesting horror film, THE DEVIL’S HAND with Robert Alda.

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Pretty Jody Fair (Lois) had a short career, mainly in teen exploitation flicks like this. Her best known credit is John Frankenheimer’s 1961 THE YOUNG SAVAGES. Martin Braddock (Stan) played Rip in  HIGH SCHOOL HELLCATS , Russ Bender (Hedley) was featured in WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST and WILD ON THE BEACH, Jack Ging (Tony) was an early member of Clint Eastwood’s stock company (HANG EM HIGH, PLAY MISTY FOR ME, HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER), and Dorothy Neumann (Anastasia) played in countless AIP epics for Roger Corman. TV Tommy Ivo, former child star turned pro drag racer, appears as himself. I don’t know who the voice of the parrot was. Nor do I care. It was annoying!

So is THE GHOST OF DRAGSTRIP HOLLOW worth your time? As a horror movie, no. It’s not scary at all. Those who dig 50’s teen flicks may want to give it a shot, and I’d recommend it to fans of Paul Blaisdell. His presence at film’s end is the only reason to watch this movie. That is, if you can slog through the rest of this turkey.

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