ROLLING VENGEANCE (1987)
“Coming Up On You” by Anthony Della Reese. I think officially the theme song is “Thinkin'” by Phil Marshall, but I’m a much bigger fan of the above.
Interesting Dated References: A M.A.D.D. style organization that goes around attempting to persuade bar owners to be more responsible. Throughout the film several references are made to this M.A.D.D. organization as being a “pain in the ass.” The Sheriff references he has “one of these beeper things” when telling people to call him.
Best Line: Yelled to a trucker — “You are a hot dog, you drive like you have a firecracker up your ass.”
Social Context: I can’t really say this revenge film has much of a social context. Considering it involves totally implausible situations and engineering skills, it wholly lacks any real world application. Rolling Vengeance was designed solely to showcase a destructive monster truck with the most thinly veiled of rape/murder revenge plots.
Summary: The song that starts this movie is even better than the song from No Retreat, No Surrender. In the opening five minutes of Rolling Vengeance they manage to spill through more fucking CB talk than High Ballin. Not only that, but Ned Beatty is the only “name” in this movie, and everything this director and writer ever did was for television.
Rolling Vengeance opens by introducing us to Joey Russo, a young hot shot trucker, and his dad “Big” Joe Russo. They are freelance truckers who occasionally work for local scumbag bar/strip club owner “Tiny” Doyle (Ned Beatty). Tiny happens to have a bunch of yokel hick-type sons, most of which they never even give names to. Joey also happens to have a girlfriend who he is pressuring to have sex, which makes it hard to tell if Joey is 14 or 23. Appearances and career choice would indicate he’s 23, but the whole “still pressuring his girlfriend for sex” thing indicates 14. So the Beatty yokel offspring apparently just drive around and terrorize people when they aren’t dropping shipments of booze. Eventually they get around to terrorizing and accidentally killing Joey’s mom and sister, which Joey indicates makes him “feel kind of empty.” Some form of guitar hot licks have been running through the entire goddamn movie, including but not limited to the post-funeral sad scene where said hot licks accompany an organ.
Then there’s a pretty awesome 80s strip club sequence that looks miserable. No wonder people did cocaine in the 80s: It’s because all the women wore fucking gigantic sweaters that said “YEA BABY!” on them and their pants had stirrups and went half way up their rib cage. Plus the music sucked and everything was stone washed. Ned Beatty proceeds to yell at his yokel sons for accidentally killing the mother/daughter team. Then there is a court date and of course the yokel kids get off for the killings. Apparently pissed off, Joey and his father go to have a beer at the very bar Ned owns.
In the next scene the yokels are waiting over a bridge with cinder blocks to throw at cars. Inexplicably, Joey is driving in a car right in front of his dad who is driving in a semi. When the cinder blocks injure the dad, Joey runs right up to help him. Then he pledges to “get those bastards.” He proceeds to go back to build his insanely large monster truck and this sounds like exactly the right time for a music montage featuring the above song.
Apparently while you were all getting laid and contracting STD’s in your 20s, the still virginal Joey was learning how to weld and majoring in mechanical engineering. In the course of that one song, he builds a fully reinforced monster truck from scrap parts, complete with giant drill, flamethrower, and tires. His first order of business is to go out and smash the used cars in Beatty’s Used Car lot, which is connected to the bar parking lot, so I’m certain some innocent cars were crushed. This is the same type of abandon the yokel brothers had when they killed Joey’s mom and sister, but I guess that is just another plot hole. Usually revenge is calculated and aimed at the perpetrators of the wronging, but Joey just doesn’t care.
Judging by the soft synthesizer music playing as he arrives back at his home, it’s time for 30-year-old Joey to finally make love to his girlfriend. She shows up and making love is insinuated by a fire and kissing. In the morning Beatty sends his yokel sons to get revenge by attempting to kill Joey’s trucker friend. Joey and his gigantic, perfectly-working monster truck that was never test driven save the day. The next encounter involves another couple yokel brothers who proceed to rape Joey’s girlfriend. Apparently the writers of the script didn’t have enough faith in the script as a “senseless murder-revenge flick” and had to tack on a “rape-revenge flick” angle. Joey quickly uses his monster truck, some hot guitar licks, and a bad synth line to get revenge. Did I mention the monster truck looks like a wooden ice fishing shanty on 10-foot wheels?
So after all but the main brother is killed, Joey’s dad dies in the hospital, his girlfriend figures out he’s the monster truck avenger, and the sheriff talks to Joey about retiring the truck before the media finds out who is inside. Joey takes his truck and drives through Tiny’s bar repeatedly until there is nothing left. Apparently the bar was made out of plywood and paper. When the cop and Joey’s girlfriend show up, he hugs them, then the cop shoots Beatty as the cop himself is shot. Lo and fucking behold, the one remaining brother gets in the truck, tries to kill the girl, but fails. Then they have a fist fight and the girlfriend screams a lot. Then the remaining brother dies inside the truck, which gives him all the blame. I should mention the quote on the box says “Compelling … echoes of Rocky and Death Wish“. That is not true at all.
Poster and Box Art: I had a really hard time finding any evidence of this movie getting a theatrical release. I’m fairly certain it didn’t. It just has that “direct-to-video” vibe about it. Regardless, the box is pretty self-explanatory.
Availability: You can easily get a used copy on eBay. Go for it.