The Popstream: Truck Turner


First, an announcement: The Popstream is scaling back slightly to a M/W/F schedule. This is mostly contingent on the fact that I haven't had a ton of time to look for and hoard a bunch of cool YouTube clips of music-related hijinx, which means I've been spreading things kinda thin. I'm not ruling out a gradual return to five-times-a-week, though, and I'm always open to suggestions -- send your cool, semi-forgotten music-related clips (videos, interviews, whatever) to this address right here and I'll give 'em a look.

Now, with that out of the way, let's talk about my favorite technically-not-great-but-shut-up-it-rules movie of (maybe) all time, (possibly) the '70s and (definitely) Isaac Hayes' career as a movie star. I know it's been a few months since he's passed away, but it still irritates me that everyone thinks his turn as Chef in South Park was his peak as an actor. This is grotesquely inaccurate and demands correction immediately: Truck Turner is Hayes at the peak of his powers, and if this is the kind of thing Scientology made possible then the inexhaustible crappiness of Battlefield Earth is pretty much canceled out right there.

You might expect some kinda campy Blaxploitation-by-numbers movie, but what you will get is sheer complete total fucking lunacy: Isaac Hayes as a cat-piss-smelling, slovenly yet indelibly badass skip tracer who gets on the wrong side of a whole clique of pimps. If you're wondering how that turns out, you haven't heard the superlative theme song ("there's some pimps in their graves, who blew those pimps away?"), but it is not so much the destination (dead pimps) as it is the voyage: the graphic car-chase destruction of a flamingo-pink '65 Lincoln Continental pimpmobile, a toilet-mouth Nichelle "Uhura" Nichols as the world's surliest madam, Yaphet Kotto as a hewn-from-granite harbinger of doom who somehow looks menacing while wearing outfits that appear to have been constructed from Muppet pelts, a trio of international assassins dubbed "The Insurance Company" (who have a pretty damn malevolent theme), a hospital shootout replete with the requisite "help I'm trying to get away but I'm on crutches oh shit I fell" bystander, some of the funniest death scenes ever filmed (one of which involves a poorly-weighted-down dummy standing in for a dude who catches a three-shotgun-salute point-blank), a cameo from an oily yet regal-looking Scatman Crothers, an extremely bizarre context for a gratuitous titty shot (provided by a prostitute character who, I am not kidding, is named "Stalingrad"), and Isaac Hayes playing the Isaac Hayes version of Mitchell, which is about as charming and likable as Mitchell could possibly get. Highly recommended if you want to watch something horribly shameless, though I suppose if you feel guilty in the process you can comfort yourself with all the cool location shots of circa-1974 Los Angeles.


Buy Truck Turner on (before it goes completely out of print)