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Stranger's B-Movie Reviews: DEADLINE AUTO THEFT (1983)

Rated PG
Running Time: 98 min.

When H.B. Halicki made The Junkman a year prior in 1982, there was a scene in that film where Halicki's character, a movie director, was filming a scene that involved a car theft and subsequent chase, and then an escape via helicopter. That very scene was put into this movie, Deadline Auto TheftThis being a brief piece of meta-fiction is really the only interesting thing there is to report about this film. Yes, there is a car chase scene (a very long one) and several car crashes to gawk at, but that is par for the course for Halicki. Let's go into detail a bit more.

Considering the films that have been reviewed on this site in the past, a basic plot is not too much to ask for. What Halicki has done here is take the bulk of his cult classic Gone In 60 Seconds and spliced in new scenes that employ the talents of one Hoyt Axton. Axton portrays police captain Gibbs, hot on the trail of master car thief Maindrian Chase (Halicki). Chase and his gang have been hired to steal 40 cars, I think. It's hard to say because there is not much of a scene provided to let us know who has hired them and why. One of the cars taken is owned by Gibbs' obnoxious future son-in-law, Carl (Dan Grimaldi). So we get scenes taken straight from Gone In 60 Seconds and then there are some weirdly edited scenes of Axton thrown in, in a frustrating and confusing attempt to tie a plot together. In a film that was released in 1983, we have scenes of car lots advertising 1973 Buicks for sale.

To accurately describe the plot of this film, I would have to describe the plot of Gone In 60 Seconds, because that is essentially what this film is. Chase is an insurance investigator who also happens to be a car thief. After an argument, one of his team betrays him to the police, and the chase is on. The last third of the film is Chase in a '73 Ford Mustang outrunning and outsmarting the entire L.A.P.D. Axton's character doesn't provide much of anything beyond a foil for the car thief.

There is no real flow to this movie in the beginning. Once we get to the big car chase scene, everything looks like it finally smooths out, as that scene is the only thing that works here. However, it's from a film made ten years prior to this one. The edits and splicing of the new scenes really warp the sense of time and place for this movie. The non-chase scenes are boring, unfunny and confusing to follow. Other than the work gone into adding new scenes into the original film, this is really a lazy concept created by Halicki. Ultimately, this film is pointless. The late Halicki may have been the so-called "car crash king" but this was really a vanity project for him.

The only redeeming moment in this movie was reliving the near 40-minute car chase scene from Gone In 60 Seconds. Reviewing Deadline Auto Theft is a redundant chore. Halicki should have had himself a "no" man instead of a bunch of "yes" men, and talked him out of this idea. What a waste of time.

Score: 1/5.

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