Review: Roadracers (Blu-ray)

Echo Bridge gives Robert Rodriguez's loving ode to AIP's rebel films, Roadracers, a sharp looking Blu-ray release!

  • Director: Robert Rodriguez
  • Starring: David Arquette, Salma Hayek, John Hawkes, William Sadler
  • Year: 1994
  • Runtime: 90 Minutes
  • Company: Echo Bridge
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Discs: 1- 25GB
  • Video: 1.78:1 - 1080p - AVC
  • Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1, English Dolby Digital 2.0
  • Region: A
  • Released: 4/17/2012

Dude (David Arquette, Scream) is a slick haired rebel that loves only two things: rock n' roll & his voluptuous gal Donna (Salma Hayek, Desperado). In between hanging out at the local diner discussing Invasion of the Body Snatchers with his best pal Nix (John Hawkes, From Dusk Till Dawn) and burning rubber with his hot rod, Dude has to deal with grudge holding local sheriff Sarge (William Sadler, Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight) & his slimy son Teddy, that want nothing more than to see him crash and burn. After a life changing opportunity arises, Dude must decide to either put this town in his rear view mirror or stand up for himself to end Sarge & Teddy's relentless oppression.
Fresh off of his Z budget, independent action smash El Mariachi, Robert Rodriguez was headed to Hollywood but took a little detour when Showtime, Lou Arkoff (son of the prolific Samuel Arkoff) & even Debra Hill (frequent John Carpenter collaborator, R.I.P) asked Rodriguez to make a film homaging the 1950's teen rebel films from American International Pictures. Thus this would become 1994's Roadracers, which in my opinion is one of the most overlooked & underrated works from the "rebel without a crew" auteur.
Roadracers includes all the prominent Rodriguez fetishes. Fast cars, gorgeous women, ferocious tunes & slick violence. Plus, it has David Arquette exuding complete coolness in everything he does. Here I was thinking that the wimpy and goofy Arquette I'm so used to would be present but, nada. Dude is a collected badass who you root for throughout. William Sadler doesn't have much to do but his time onscreen as Sarge is well spent, with his anecdote about pigs-in-a-blanket being a highlight. Salma Hayek is gorgeous as expected but real mention should be made to John Hawkes, who turns a background comedic relief bit into a memorable character.
Roadracers deals a lot with outcasts and "fitting in" themes. Nix frequently rambles on about Invasion of the Body Snatchers plot which serves as a great subtext to punks feeling like aliens amongst their community. Being yourself, an "outsider" is really the modus operandi of punks and that underlying theme really elevates further than it being labeled as some action romp. Roadracers's goal is just to be fun, which it greatly succeeds in. If you're a fan of Rodriguez and the legacy of AIP, look no further.

  • Video
Echo Bridge gives Roadracers it's Blu-ray debut with a 1080p, 1.78:1 framed transfer an above average considering it's budget release status. The majority of the picture quality is nicely detailed, with closeups in particular really benefiting from the HD upgrade. It's filmic roots are on display with grain intact. Black levels aren't so impressive during nighttime scenes and towards the end of the film there are two quick scenes in particular that lower in resolution, which is only a brief distraction. Overall I'm pretty pleased with this disc as it gets much more right than wrong, and for the low price it's hard to complain. 
  • Audio
Two tracks are included; English DTS-HD MA 5.1 & English Dolby Digital 2.0. The DTS-HD Master Audio offers a decent surround sound mix that won't blow you away but is technically adequate. The film's rocking tunes & various road races definitely come off strong, with dialogue always clear.

Bonus Features
  • Featurette - "Ten Minute Film School: The Making of a Degenerate Hod Rod Flick"
Consisting of vintage on-set footage, this brief look at the hectic shooting schedule of making Roadracers is a blast. Rodriguez details all the hurdles to overcome that include budget restraints, casting and even earthquakes! An essential watch right after viewing the feature.
  • Audio Commentary - Director Robert Rodriguez