FIVE MOVIES THAT INSPIRED LOWDOWN ROAD BY SCOTT VON DOVIAK
Scott Von Dokiak's Low Down Road from Hard Case Crime is tribute to the seventies and their gonzo exploitation flicks of fast cars, faster ladies, and action at every turn. with two cousins on a road trip to Evel Knievel's Snake River Canyon jump with a load of marijuana and the dealer as well as a vengeful sheriff on their tail. Here, Scott listed and discusses five movies that influenced the book.
Smokey and the Bandit (1977) – Two good ol’ boys with a truckload of contraband try to elude a redneck sheriff on a cross-country chase. That’s the plot of the second-highest grossing movie of 1977 (only Star Wars topped it), and it’s also the general outline of Lowdown Road, . My road trip is a great deal darker and more violent than this crowd-pleaser, but the rapport between stars Burt Reynolds and Jerry Reed was a huge influence on my lead characters, cousins Chuck and Dean Melville.
Vanishing Point (1971) – Lowdown Road opens with Chuck Melville joyriding in the 1970 Dodge Challenger he ”borrowed” from his cousin Dean. I borrowed that vehicle from this existential road trip starring Barry Newman as Kowalski, an ex-cop tasked with delivering the car from Denver to San Francisco. Trippier than most of the seventies car chase pictures to follow, it delivers the goods in automotive action.
White Lightning (1973) – Here’s Burt again, in somewhat more serious mode than the Bandit. As convicted moonshiner Gator McKlusky, he’s out for revenge against the redneck sheriff responsible for his brother’s death. Ned Beatty gives a chilling performance as Sheriff Connors, a prime influence on the villain of Lowdown Road, Sheriff Bud Giddings.
Gator Bait (1974) – Queen of hixploitation Claudia Jennings is largely forgotten today, but that shouldn’t be the case. By all rights, the cutoff denim shorts we call Daisy Dukes should be called the Claudias. In Lowdown Road, ladies’ man Dean Melville takes in a drive-in double feature of two Jennings B-movies: Gator Bait and Truck Stop Women. Take Dean’s word for it: this one is the superior effort.
Being Evel (2015) – Johnny Knoxville produced this documentary on the life of the daredevil hero of his childhood—an invaluable resource for its footage from the Snake River Canyon jump site, an event that figures prominently into the climax of Lowdown Road. (You can skip the biopic starring the absurdly miscast George Hamilton as well as Evel’s sole starring role as himself in the execrable Viva Knievel.)
Scott Von Doviak's twenty-year pop culture writing career includes three books and stints as a film critic for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and a television reviewer for The Onion's AV Club. His debut novel Charlesgate Confidential was named one of the top ten crime novels of 2018 by the Washington Post. His new novel Lowdown Road is out July 11 from Hard Case Crime. He graduated from Emerson College in Boston and now lives in Austin, Texas.