Peter’s Retro Reviews: Supervan (1977)

March 16, 2015

SuperVan movie posterby Peter Nielsen

”Supervan takes on all corners… laser blasting… solar powered… Watch out!”

So, ladies and gentlemen, I’m finally back on track again… I know it’s been a while since my last review, but now, after having had a little breather, I’m back… or rather… WE’RE back, because by the time you’re reading this, the next installment of the podcast, Forgotten Flix Remembers, has already gone live! And just so you know… we have a great year, with lots of interesting and fun movies lined up for you, so without further ado, let’s dive into this week’s review, shall we?

There are lots of reasons for watching or buying a movie… the story, the cast, the director, or in my case… a toy car! Well, actually it was a picture of a die cast toy car; a little van which I thought looked cool as hell! I found out it was from a movie called “Supervan” from 1977, but would have never thought it had been released on DVD. It had though, so… here we are! Long story short (too late), I bought a movie based on seeing a photo of a toy car… Yeah, I’m weird like that!

Clint has had enough of his dad's garage!

Clint has had enough of his dad’s garage!

The DVD is just a crappy and scratchy VHS transfer and hasn’t been cleaned up or anything, but believe it or not, that only works to the movie’s advantage. There’s not much of a plot to speak of; it’s basically about the custom-van culture of the 70’s and showing off lots of vans! Lots and lots of them!

Clint Morgan, played by Mark Schneider (Santa Barbara, Babylon 5, Matt Houston), is tired of working in his dad’s garage and one day jumps into his van and takes off. He has no direct plan and is basically going to where the roads will take him. He has one goal though, and that is to go to a van gathering called “The Annual Non-Invitational Bicentennial Invitational Freak Out ‘76” where he’s going to enter his van into the competition and win the grand prize of $5000. That idea is quickly thrown out the window when, while saving a woman from a couple of bikers, his van is crushed in a large scrap metal compactor!

Vandora going full throttle!

Vandora going full throttle!

The woman’s name is Karen and is played by Katie Saylor, who only has eight credits to her name… The Swinging Barmaids, for instance. Supervan was her last movie!

Karen is “running away” from her rich father, T.B. Trenton, who sells large gas-guzzling muscle-cars, and everything that goes with it. You can actually hear radio-ads for his products all through the movie. He’s played by Morgan Woodward, an actor you might recognize from such diverse movies as Battle Beyond The Stars and Cool Hand Luke. T.B. Trenton’s a bully and a skirt chaser who wants everything to go his way, or not at all!

Anyway… Clint and Karen go to visit a good friend of Clint’s, who just so happens to be working for her dad. His name is Boseley and he doesn’t really like his boss much, which is apparent by the darts sticking out of a photo of him, in the background. Boseley WAS supposed to build a new gas-guzzling van for his boss to show off at the Freak Out, but has instead secretly built a solar powered van, called the Vandora, the titular supervan! T.B. Trenton is, of course, not too happy about this!

A romantic moment between Clint and Karen.

A romantic moment between Clint and Karen.

Boseley tells Clint to drive the Vandora to the Freak Out and enter that into the competition instead, and win the prize-money that way. The Freak Out itself is really nothing more than a gathering for “vanners” to smoke weed, party, have sex, and show off their custom vans! Oh, I did mention there are lots of vans in this movie, didn’t I? There’s also a wet t-shirt competition and the one spraying the water is none other than the cult author Charles Bukowski himself, in a very, very brief cameo!

This was a first-time watch for me, but it’s certainly not going to be the last, because for some reason I kind of like Supervan. Don’t ask me to explain why, because I don’t think I can… I mean, it’s NOT a good movie… Nope, not even close! But… there’s something about it that I just can’t help but like!

The Vandora shooting lasers!

The Vandora shooting lasers!

Maybe it’s the fact that it doesn’t take itself too seriously… or at all, if truth be told, and in Supervan’s case that’s actually a good thing! Maybe it’s the “carefree” nature of it or the silly car-chases, or the stupid dialogue or… hell, I don’t know! I guess it’s the whole viewing experience of a movie like this that gets to me! I should probably have been bored by the lengthy scenes with vans driving around accompanied by CB-chatter and soft rock music, but I wasn’t. The music is actually pretty decent in Supervan… No “chart climbers” of course, but it fits the movie perfectly.

One of the main reasons for liking the movie is, of course, the supervan itself! The Vandora is super-cool! When it drives it emits some sort of high-pitched noise which is pretty annoying, but it’s supposed to be, because it messes with police-car radios and apparently, sometimes the whole car too. The Vandora is super fast, strong, technologically advanced and it shoots friggin’ laser beams, for Pete’s sake! They come in handy when Boseley and Karen have to bust Clint out of jail at one point!

By the way? The State Trooper in the movie is played by Len Lesser, who’s been in a lot of stuff, but I’m sure you remember him as Uncle Leo on the hit TV-show Seinfeld.

Supervan was directed by Lamar Card, who’s only directed four other movies, Disco Fever and The Clones for instance. He’s produced a bunch more though, most notably Terror Train from 1980.

I’ll end this review by saying that I do realize Supervan is not a movie most people will like, but I sure as hell enjoyed it and, as I said earlier, it’s one I’ll be coming back to from time to time. In fact, I’ve already watched it twice this week!

Until next time, my friends… if you for some reason HAVE seen this movie, please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

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