Shot in the time between El mariachi and Desperado, Robert Rodriguez’s Roadracers aired as part of a series of features that aired on Showtime in 1994, called Rebel Highway. Each film in the 10-part series got its title from a vintage piece of ’50s B-movie cinema, featured an impressive array of directors, including William Friedkin, John Milius, Joe Dante and Mary Lambert, and a handful of up-and-coming stars.

Roadracers, like the rest of the films in the series is a throwback to the greaser ‘50s, mixed with a little ‘90s grunge. Dude Delaney (David Arquette) acts the part of Texas bad boy, but he has big dreams of music stardom. In Donna (Salma Hayek), he has a good looking girl on his arm. Dude plays it cool; greasing his hair, smoking cigarettes, and driving his convertible around town.  However, he’s not the most popular guy among the locals. When he and his friend Nixer (John Hawkes) meet Teddy (Jason Wiles) and his crew on the streets, he finds himself challenged to a drag race. Flicking his cigarette at the other car, Dude ends up burning off most Teddy’s girlfriend’s (Tammy Brady Conrad) hair.

RoadracersTeddy vows revenge, and his father, the town sheriff simply known as “Sarge” (William Sadler) has it in for Dude. It seems they have a history that goes a long way back. Teddy schedules a rumble with Dude, but as it turns out, that same night, Dude wants to try out for a spot with The Ramblers, a rock band he respects, who just happen to be looking for a guitarist. Dude’s friends are convinced that music just might be their friend’s ticket out of this dead end town, but Dude hasn’t decided if he might just prefer to settle his beef with Teddy.

While not a perfect film, Roadracers is great B movie entertainment. Dude Delaney may be the best performances of David Arquette’s career thus far, as he nails every facet of the character. As with other Rodriguez films, there’s plenty of great music, and colorful characters to keep things from getting boring. Robert Rodriguez has always said that Roadracers is one of his favorite films, and it’s wonderful that this seldom seen gem has finally made its way to Blu-ray and DVD.

Though I was skeptical, Echo Bridge has done a pretty good job with the Blu-ray transfer. Presented in 1.78:1 widescreen, this 1080p transfer is fairly clean except for a few specks here and there. Shot on a budget of just of just $1,000,000, this transfer does show those limitations, affecting s hazy tone throughout. Unfortunately, the whole thing looks just marginally better than a standard DVD transfer.

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, while it won’t blow you away, does a solid job. Occasionally, the ‘50s tunes are so loud that they crowd out the dialogue. Surrounds are really involved though, creating an engaging atmosphere. The mix does a fine job of accentuating sound effects that aren’t exactly top quality. Given the budgetary constraints of the film, the track has been mixed just about as well as it can be.

The following special features are included:

  • Audio Commentary With Robert Rodriguez: The director discusses the differences between this and El Mariachi in regards to length of shoot and budget; the technical details of numerous scenes; the work of the cast; the plot; stories from the set and more. This is a very informative track.
  • Ten Minute Film School: the Making of a Degenerate Hot Rod Flick (480p, 10:01) features Robert Rodriguez discussing the filmmaking process, including the tight shooting schedule, writing the script, casting Salma Hayek so she could be later cast in Desperado and more.