Director: H.B. Halicki
Halicki Films/Anderson Merchandisers

H.B. "Toby" Halicki, a native of the small upstate New York town of Dunkirk, was a man who was obsessed with classic cars. Years later, after moving to Hollywood, he decided to make the ultimate car crash action film, GONE IN 60 SECONDS, and now fans can enjoy it again in an exclusive Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack.

Mandrian Pace (Halicki) is an insurance investigator who moonlights as a master car thief with his team, consisting of Atlee (George Cole), Stanley (James McIntyre), and his brother Corlis (played by Toby's real-life brother Ronald). One day, he receives an offer from a South American drug lord asking him to steal 48 cars by the end of the week. He accepts, considering it will be a piece of cake. Only one car, however, a yellow 1973 Ford Mustang nicknamed Eleanor, becomes a headache for the team. One mishap involves a nighttime car chase with Mandrian and the angry owner of Eleanor #1 and another having him steal another one, only to find out he has to send it back since it's not insured. Mandrian's boss and rival Eugene Chase (Jerry Daguirda) double-crosses him by exposing the car theft ring as a way to get revenge on him for burning a Cadillac containing a $1 million worth of heroin. Two detectives (Butch Stockton and Phil Woods) are waiting for Mandrian at the International Towers, where he's stealing another Eleanor. After he gets spotted, the chase is on!

Of course, everyone knows the main highlight of the film is the 40-minute chase scene through five different cities as Mandrian tries to dodge the cops. Halicki coordinated the chase himself and did all of his own stunt driving, there's a few real accidents you'll see that were not supposed to happen. 93 cars were destroyed in this chase which was unbelievable at the time. Since no studios were interested in releasing it, Halicki distributed the film himself. It became an instant drive-in hit and grossed million of dollars at the box office. This success had Halicki make two more movies THE JUNKMAN (1982) and DEADLINE AUTO THEFT (1983), which is nothing more than an edited version of GONE IN 60 SECONDS with new footage featuring Halicki and Hoyt Axton, who plays a police captain out to get Mandrian. His final unfinished film GONE IN 60 SECONDS 2, included as a bonus film on the 2003 DVD of DEADLINE AUTO THEFT, was an official sequel that was never completed, as Halicki was killed by a collapsing water tower.

First released on VHS by Media Home Entertainment in the 1980s, the copyright seemed to expired, but Halicki's widow Denice Shakrian-Halicki, licensed it in 1998 and it took two years to get an official DVD release (it had to go through an extensive picture and audio restoration). In 2000, Navarre Entertainment (a subsidiary of BCI) released a 25th Anniversary edition of it and though fans were finally glad to have it released, most felt cheated since the original soundtrack (including its original sound effects) have been replaced with generic synthesizer music, not adding any grittiness compared to the original version. However, there were lots of welcomed extras, including an audio commentary by cinematographer Jack Vacek and film editor Warner E. Leighton, an extensive photo gallery, interviews, trailers, and an introduction by Denice. In 2005, BCI released it as a Collector's Edition that included some of the extras from the 2000 release. Some new additions included 3 "Cut to the chase" featurettes, car chase scenes from Halicki's later films (which are included in the latest edition), an interview with Denice on the set of the 2000 remake with Nicholas Cage and a mini video game featuring the chase.

The newest edition (Blu-Ray + DVD) presents the film in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement. Though it's the same version available on previous DVD releases, this transfer seems to be very grainy, unlike the other DVD versions. It was presumably done to give the film a grittier look to it. Colors however, do stand out and the print has nice detail. The Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound, as well as DTS 5.1, comes through nicely. Some of the extras included on the 2000 and 2005 releases can be found here. Including the entertaining documentary The Life and Times of H.B. Toby Halicki, produced and aired on the Speed Channel in 2002, featuring interviews with all of his friends that knew him well. A new trailer for THE JUNKMAN, as well as an advertisement for the DEADLINE AUTO THEFT/GONE IN 60 SECONDS 2 DVD is included.

In conclusion, anyone who owns the previous DVD editions may want to hold on to them, extras-wise, but if you want to see the Blu-Ray edition, it'd be a nice addition to anyone's movie collection. (Kyle McElravy)