Friday, May 16, 2014

Only now does it occur to me... JAILBREAKERS

Only now does it occur to me... that dual John Carpenter exes Debra Hill and Adrienne Barbeau ever worked together without Carpenter (they had collaborated previously on THE FOG and ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK).

 I'm havin' flashbacks to Antonio Bay.

The project in question was a series of Showtime made-for-TV movies called REBEL HIGHWAY produced by Lou Arkoff (Sam's son), Willie Kutner, and Hill.  They were a throwback to the 50s "greasers/girls gone bad/motorcycle delinquents" genre and featured segments directed by Joe Dante, Allan Arkush, John Milius, Robert Rodriguez, and Ralph Bakshi, among others.  JAILBREAKERS was William Friedkin's installment (with a script by co-written by Debra Hill), and while you should not expect anything resembling typical Friedkin quality, it's a fun enough time with a great "90s trying to do the 50s and failing" vibe.

Pictured: the 1950s.

JAILBREAKERS indeed is the tale of a good girl gone bad; the girl in this instance being Shannen Doherty, who already seems kind of bad at the beginning, or at least bored n' bitchy.

Is the 'H' for HEATHERS?

It turns into a sort of "young couple crime spree" movie when she joins up with no-good greaser Antonio Sabato, Jr. (in the vein of GUN CRAZY, BADLANDS, BONNIE & CLYDE, what have you).

It has supporting roles by young Adrien Brody and Sean Whalen ('Roach' from THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS), too, and they make the best of their screentime, I suppose.

But back to Adrienne Barbeau– she plays Shannen Doherty's often-mortified mom in a fairly subtle, understated performance.  At one point, she plays the classic 50s housewife, hosting a backyard barbeque.

Or would that be a Barbeau-que?

Stepping outside the film, I must post the question:  upon their reunion, thirteen years after ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, I wonder what Debra and Adrienne talked about?  Ah, to be a fly on the wall.

In closing– this one's mostly for fans of 90s camp and Friedkin completists, though it's not without its redeeming factors.


Anonymous said...

Barbeau-que, hah! With so many of the great names among names, this looks like a real curiosity indeed! And now that you mention it, there did seem to be an awful lot of "90's trying to do 50's" motifs going on back then, and they usually did fail in that same type of endearing way!

Sean Gill said...


Endearing is a good word for it. And by the way, this and the rest of REBEL HIGHWAY are on Netflix instant right now. I saw the Dante segment already (it's okay) and will probably feel compelled to check out the Milius, Rodriguez, and Bakshi before I'm through.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the heads-up, it's about time Netflix started earning its keep! Now if they would only beef up their Van Damme catalog...

John Guedes said...

I'm wondering if this series inspired Rodriguez to make his little-known 50's greaser movie ROADRACERS or vice versa. Either way, I'm going to check it out.

...and speaking of Bakshi, I heard he has a new animated film coming out this year called LAST DAYS OF CONEY ISLAND.

Sean Gill said...


ROADRACERS is part of the REBEL HIGHWAY series- apparently it functioned as the "pilot" and I think was the first to have an individual DVD release. I still haven't seen it yet, but it, too, is on Netflix instant, so it won't be long.

And I heard about LAST DAYS OF CONEY ISLAND, from the horse's mouth– I had the pleasure of seeing Bakshi in person a week ago at BAM in Brooklyn (he was Q&A-ing after a screening of COONSKIN) and from what I've heard and the artwork I've seen it definitely looks like his older stuff, and I'm pretty excited to see the finished film.

J.D. Lafrance said...

I like a lot of these REBEL HIGHWAY movies with Rodriguez's easily being the best of the bunch. He puts his customary gusto into it and David Arquette is actually quite good. Plus, John Hawkes plays his best bud and the always-watchable William Sadler plays the uptight cop who goes after these punk kids.

Joe Dante's movie is pretty good as well. I believe they are all on Netflix streaming.

Sean Gill said...


Yeah, I'm planning on checking more of them out thanks to their Netflix presence. Watched the Joe Dante one a while back and enjoyed it, for sure, and the Rodriguez one looks like a fun ride.