At first glance, Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow may not seem to be as bad as the likes of Plan 9 From Outer Space or The Horror of Party Beach, but upon delving into the details, this movie is pretty pathetic.
I’m still trying to figure out the connection to Hot Rod Gang, which this film serves as a “sequel” to, other than the fact that two of the characters have the same name and are (coincidentally?) played by the same actors. With Hot Rod Gang, you knew you were watching a below par movie, but there was still a sense of importance surrounding it. Maybe the cameos or the actual plots gave it that feeling, but nonetheless the film was at least entertaining. Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow is entertaining but in an entirely different way. The situations that take place in this movie are so ludicrous, yet executed with so much conviction that you might actually miss their flaws.
The film features the same premise as the first, but with less interesting characters. The story revolves around Lois Cavendish (Jody Fair), the love interest from Hot Rod Gang, and her hot rod club as they struggle to pay rent at their clubhouse (again). Yet, over the course of the movie they end up doing absolutely nothing to actually save it. This conflict takes up 2/3 of the 65 minute runtime, but is never resolved.
There’s a reporter (Russ Bender) who hangs around the clubhouse doing research for an article he’s writing about the teen car craze that’s sweeping the nation. Assumed club leader Stan (Martin Braddock) invites the reporter to hang around the club for a few days in order to get his story.
The club used to be known for underground racing, but now has a strict ban against street racing. Stan wants the reporter to let the world know that gear-head teenagers aren’t all delinquents.
Lois secretly gets tangled up in an situation involving a rival car club and gets grounded by her parents for a drag racing incident that headlined the front page of the local newspaper (?). They don’t believe that a girl should be into cars at all, let alone street racing. And for some reason they figured two weeks detainment ought to set her straight. Though they let her host a party at their house, as well as have a slumber party with loud music into the early morning.
With 25 minutes left, we finally get to the “Ghost” part of the movie’s title. After the crew gets evicted, they’re invited to stay at the unsold haunted house of Lois’ father’s client. For some reason they all spend the night at the house and take turns keeping watch for any supernatural entities. First of all, it’s hard to imagine that this will hold up as the protocol each and every night if this mansion actually ends up being their new hangout. And second of all, their original clubhouse was just a hangout, not a place where they slept!
The minutiae regarding the actual ghost haunting is another asininity of this movie, and one better experienced first hand.
Much like its predecessor, Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow features several full-length musical performances, though not as many and admittedly more catchy. There’s one song where the clubhouse band starts shooting guns off into the air joyously as they play their rock ‘n’ roll music…indoors. Everyone dances and smiles like idiots. It’s great.
Despite its insane amount of flaws, there’s something infectious about this ridiculous film. Details are suspect at best with a plot that has no resolution, scattered with loose ends all over the place. There are characters and events with no purpose or relevance to anything, thrown in for no reason at all. But when literally every detail of a movie is completely uncalled for, there’s a sort of cohesion that gets cultivated. The more I talk about it, the more I find myself loving it.
At one point, however, this movie does go for some depth. It tries to make more sense of a new adolescent America–even sympathizing with it–attempting to bridge the generation gap during a time when fear was parents’ number one argument. In those moments alone, Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow still seems to adequately place itself within the context of the world around it, absurdly finding relevance more than 60 years later. Now THAT is uncalled for!