Stingray (1978)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 1 out of 10

4-Word Review: This car goes fast.

This film is being reviewed by request. It is the story of two young men named Al and Elmo (Christophe Mitchum, Les Lannon) who purchase a red corvette unaware that there are bags of cocaine stashed in the back put there by some criminals on the run. Eventually they find out about it, but are then chased by the bad guys who will stop at nothing to get it back.

I’m not sure if Retrohound, who is the one who requested that this be reviewed, really likes this movie, or simply has some nostalgic connections to it. Either way I found it to be poor at all levels. It starts out as a gritty southern tinged action drama and it might of worked had it stayed that way, but then it devolves into slapstick comedy and becomes a pointless mess. The humor is corny and borrows every cliché from every 70’s good ole boy car chase flick until it is mind numbing. Any tension or interest in the plot is sucked out. The music during the chase sequences sounds too much like it were made for a cartoon, or kiddie flick and sophistication wise that is where this production is at. This is the type of film that gives yahoo action comedies, which already on the bottom of the cinematic genre totem pole, a bad name.

The two leads are bland and cardboard. Christopher Mitchum, who is the son of Robert Mitchum and looks almost exactly like him except his eyes aren’t as squinty, is terrible. His acting ability wouldn’t even pass in a high school play and it is obvious that he managed to sneak into starring in B-movies based on his name and connections than on any talent. I also thought it was really dumb how the two boys pick up a sexy hitchhiker halfway through. The part is played by Sondra Theodore a former Playboy Playmate and all she does is sit there looking pretty without saying hardly anything, which carries the concept of eye candy too much to the extreme. The character is never given any name and she is billed simply as ‘The Girl’ during the end credits, which is pretty much all she is and although this was her film debut it is no surprise that her career did not last much longer after this.

I did enjoy Sherry Jackson as the vulgar and tenacious Abigail Bratowski who will do whatever it takes to get the drugs back and won’t be intimated by any man. With the exception of William Watson who plays fellow bad guys Lonnigan she seems to be the only one here that can act and the only reason I gave this film one point. She is also involved in the film’s one memorable moment when she lights an obnoxious guy’s crotch on fire. Her handling of a giant bulldozer is impressive as well.

Normally it is the stunt work that gives these otherwise low-grade flicks any merit, but I didn’t see anything here that hasn’t been shown a half dozen times in other car chase movies. The only exciting moment for me was when a camera was hooked up to the sides of the cars and you could view the chase at almost highway level as they streaked across the winding country roads at incredible speeds.

I liked that it was filmed on-location in St. Louis. A variety of interesting locales is chosen including a woodsy area for the motorbike chase as well as back alleyways featuring a lot of rundown brick buildings. The best is the final segment taking place on an old bridge overlooking the Mississippi. Great use is made of the bridge’s rusted, shadowy architecture and one also gets a great view of St Louis’s 1970’s skyline.

The opening credits, which glows in rhythm to a roaring engine is kind of cool, but otherwise I was unable to get into this movie at any point and really couldn’t believe how vapid and uninspired it was. A 101 minute runtime is much, much too long for something with such a paper thin plot. The only thing this film succeeds at is become increasingly more annoying as it goes along and it is too stupid to be even passably entertaining.

My Rating: 1 out of 10

Released: September 28, 1978

Runtime: 1Hour 41Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Richard Taylor

Studio: AVCO Embassy Pictures

Available: VHS, YouTube

2 responses to “Stingray (1978)

  1. Wow! Sorry I recommended it! I saw it a couple of times on HBO back in about 1980 and loved it. I haven’t seen it since but have been looking for it. It’s not on DVD that I can find. I’m glad I didn’t pay $40 for the VHS as it sounds like it doesn’t hold up to my 8th grade memories. There are some people on the Web who like it, I guess they like the cold-bloodedness of Sherry Jackson.

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