Sunday, February 6, 2011

Deoderant Revenge? Oh, thought you said "Roll-On Vengeance!"

Rolling Vengeance  (Nelson Entertainment, 1988)

Before the Camera:

Don Michael Paul  (Alien from L.A.)
Lawrence Dane  (Scanners)
Lisa Howard (Replikator)
Michael J. Reynolds  (The Descent Part 2)
Michael Kirby  (Meatballs)
Susan Hogan  (Disturbing Behavior)
Barclay Hope  (TV's Eureka)
Ned Beatty  (Superman the Movie)

Behind the Camera

Directed by Steven Hilliard Stern

Produced by Jack E. Freedman, Jeffrey M. Sneller, and Steven Hilliard Stern

Written by Michael Thomas Montgomery

This revenge opus came to the world from the wilds of Canada, bringing us the story of Joey Rosso (Paul) the handsome truck drivin' son of Big Joe Rosso (Dane), the rugged truck drivin' father of...er, well, Joey Rosso. We jump right in on the road as the filmmakers try to pass Canada off as Ohio and Joey manhandles the family big rig down the road with a trailer full of beer and liquor bound for the local watering hole, Doyle's. That establishment is run by Tiny Doyle (Beatty), quite the local businessman, also running a used car lot next door and maintaining a liquor license even though his place is picketed weekly by MADD members, including Joey's girlfriend Misty (Howard). And in addition to a girlfriend with a cause, Joey also has a friendly driving competition going with his pal Steve Tyler (Hope), although I'm not sure how Tyler balanced driving a semi truck through Canada and touring with Aerosmith...then again, maybe that semi was a disguised tour bus...
    But I digress.
    The Rossos are good at what they do, and Big Joe has even scrimped and saved enough for a second semi to double the Rosso Delivery Service, delighting Joey, and Mom Rosso (Hogan) and Joey's little sisters. This means even less time for Joey to hang out with Misty and work on his mysterious secret project in the barn, but it's all good, because family is all they've got. (Well, except for two semi trucks and a big barn). However, it turns out the heat is on for the Rosso family, and it's about to reach the Doyling Point. Tiny has five sons - each from a different marriage, with the oldest named Vic, and the rest sporting wonderful monikers like Moon Man, Hair Lip, Finger, and Four Eyes, (at least in the credits -  as they are never name checked in the flick.) This DIY group of village idiots like to drink, embarrass their daddy, drink, ogle the strippers at Doyles', drink, and cause traffic accidents, like the one that involves them and Steve Tyler and his truck that claims the lives of all three Rosso women. Kind of a case of Doyle M for Murder, but unfortunately, thanks to Tiny's behind-the-scenes wheeling-dealing (I'm thinking the judge's bar tab at Doyle's disappeared and he was the sudden recipient of the "Free Lap Dances for Life" gift card) the sword of justice does not fall on the Doyle boys. They are let off with a $300 fine. Big Joe and Joey are gobsmacked, but try to pick up the pieces of their lives. However, Tiny's youngins aren't done with the Rossos yet and prove to be Doyle Pains a short time later when a shellshocked Big Joe is taken out in an impressively mounted jackknifed truck sequence that earned the stunt team their pay that week.
    Joey is gobsmacked² and starts thinking about some revenge. He heads back out to the barn, and forgoes sleep, food, and drink but not some power chords as a great 80's cheese tune clues us in to The Montage which then shows us Joey either finishing his original project, or changing his project into some kind of Rolling Vengeance. Soon after, in the wee hours of the morning a huge tank of a monster truck shows up at Doyles' used car lot and squishes every junker car...er, I mean, fine automobile Tiny had on the lot. Somehow, despite the fact that this is a noisy proposition, and that the crusher is a flame-spouting skyscraper on wheels the size of merry-go-rounds, nobody sees nothing and that truck disappears back to where it came from.
But even the stupid Doyle boys are not that stupid, and they take their final shot at Joey - they kidnap and assault Misty.
    That sound you just heard was the two pieces of the Final Straw hitting the ground, and moments later that big ol' monster truck is back on the road, and much like Tim Dalton once said: Joey's had a "few optional extras installed;" stuff like a giant four foot long drill bit, and cutters, and just about anything you could want to go running all over hill and Doyle seeking revenge...


This was some fine Canucksploitation, painfully earnest and awesomely silly and coming together into a nice little cinematic package courtesy director Stern. The cast is mostly okay, though some of the lesser lights are a little wobbly, but the top billed duo of Paul and Dane do well as the tough guy truckers. Acting honors, though, go to the one, the only Ned Beatty, who pulls out all the stops as the sleazy Doyle, from the rat tail mullet to the leather pants, from the hilarious snide remarks to his sons to the sheen of sweat coating him through most of the picture. And he does a nice job playing the guy ostensibly nice at the beginning, although we're well aware just who the bad guy is going to be from the moment he steps into view. The stunt work is handled adroitly and the action is parceled out in regular doses, balancing the drama as people named Rosso keep dying off every few minutes. I'm not sure the final attack on Misty was necessary, as losing 80% of your family to drunken shenanigans perpetrated by five ne'er-do-well losers seems reason enough to start running over said losers with a wheeled behemoth without having to resort to a rape scene, but they went there, so the final justice Joey deals out is satisfying to watch. Of course, a movie about a big giant killer truck needs a really good giant killer truck in it. Thankfully, the truck (which should have been called Rolling Vengeance onscreen so I could call it RV now) is a pretty good movie star vehicle. It is so armored it lacks a bit in the "face" department, but the big stacks blowing flames make up for that a lot. And even though it's not likely you'll ever find a Snap Tite ™ Rolling Vengeance truck at your local hobby shop, I did find one fan who went the distance...see below...

Man, there's an opportunity Tonka missed out on.

Now that's a fan right there! So, wrapping up, it's everything you could want in an 80's high concept revenge flick, with action, sleaze, a little nudity, some violence and some solid stunts topped off with some great cheesy pop music and The Montage. What more could anyone ask?

Let's Get Out of Here ?

At around the 57:00 mark, one of the Doyle boys (they're a wee bit interchangeable, so not sure which one) spots the title coming right for him.

Eye Candy ?

Although Tiny Doyle's bar does give us some glimpses of his strippers, they're not around long enough. And Lisa Howard, while quite fetching, does not have the va-va-va-voom necessary to score the prize. Sorry ladies.

Buddha Man's Capsule Review

Buddha Man says "Rolling Vengeance trucks in a load of
entertainment for those so inclined."
Thanks as always, BM, and til next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!


  1. I'm amazed by the plug on the poster. Variety called it "compelling" and compared it to Rocky? I guess, if you run an ad for your film in Variety, and it has those words in it, you can say, "In Variety, the film was described as..."

    Can't speak to the film, but I give this review high marks for the creative and well-wielded Bond dialogue reference. I even heard it in Dalton's voice.