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By Paul Parcellin | March 26, 2009

So, what’s going on in Anywhere, Washington? Lots of hot rods, zombies, and intervals of edgy rock ’n’ roll, it would appear.

In case the title doesn’t make it perfectly obvious, viewers will soon find that “Hot Rod Girls” owes a lot to probably every low-budget horror/zombie/car flick you’ve ever seen.

Newspaper reporter Vanessa Trojan (Lindsay Calkins) is determined to write a feature on the hot rod racing team consisting of Jo Leene Dodge (Melene Marie Brown) and her mute sidekick, Betty Petty (Kimberly Lynn Layfield). The two gals build and race street rods as good as the boys, but get no respect from the men who dominate the field. Vanessa wants to write a story that will shine the spotlight of recognition on the pair.

The movie’s action abruptly shifts to a galaxy far, far away on the planet Moosha, where the only words spoken are “Moo-sha” and the meaning of each sentence is translated in subtitles. One Moosha-ite – sort of a whacky intergalactic neighbor living in a day-glow-colored suburb – is bothered by Earth’s radio waves because they’re ruining his TV reception. He decides to decimate Earth with a powerful ray gun. The ray’s effect turns the people of Anywhere into murderous zombie-like creatures who prey on the uninitiated. In the meantime, Seattle-area bands are featured rock-video-like segments that marginally tie into the story line.

When Jo Leene is wrongly accused of a grisly crime, she goes on the lam and an extended chase takes place. The movie’s title implies a soft and fluffy ending, but don’t jump to conclusions. This isn’t a happily-ever-after kind of flick.

The maker of “Hot Rod Girls,” D.A. Sebasstian, obviously delights in ’50s style trash-movie aesthetics. Lots of chrome and steel and a cast of shapely babes prevail throughout. The dialogue mimics that of the tough-talking characters that older generations watched on drive-in screens across America.

The Planet Moosha scenes, which are among the most fun and spontaneous parts of the film, seem to be from an entirely different movie. Throughout, the acting is often over-the-top and sometimes wooden – exactly the mixed bag we’ve come to expect from low-budget genre flicks.

The musical sequences seemed designed to stand alone as music videos, and their production values are of good quality. Overall, the film looks good, despite the occasional use of unnecessary graphical element here and there – washed out color, frames rendered in high contrast so that the scene looks like a cartoon – that distract from the story rather than tell it.

To be fair, this is a movie made by musicians who are admittedly taking a stab at filmmaking for the first time. You’ve got to admire their tenacity in getting the thing done.

That said, if they shoot a sequel I’d vote for a change of venue – say for instance, “Hot Rod Girls of Moosha”? Now those folks would have some totally radical street machines.

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