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Shaker Run

Bruce Morrison’s film is fast and furious and without question has the best stunts ever accomplished in a New Zealand picture.

Shaker Run, New Zealand/United States, 1985

Director: Bruce Morrison
Producers: Larry Parr, Igo Kantor
Production co: Mirage – Avicom / Laurelwood Productions
Executive producer: Henry Fownes
Screenplay: James Kouf Jnr, Henry Fownes, Bruce Morrison
Director of photography: Kevin Hayward
Camera operator: Alan Locke
Editors: Ken Zemke, Bob Richardson
Production designer: Ron Highfield
Music: Stephen McCurdy
Production manager: William Grieve

With: Cliff Robertson (Judd Pierson), Leif Garret (Casey Lee), Lisa Harrow (Christine Rubin), Shane Briant (Paul Thoreau), Peter Rowell (Mr Carney), Peter Hayden (Michael Connoly), Ian Mune (Barry Gordon), Bruce Phillips (Dr Marshall), Fiona Samuels (Casey’s Girl), Deidre O’Connor (Judd’s Girl), Nat Lees (Squad Commander), Daniel Gillion (Thoreau’s driver)

35mm, PG-Contains violence, 90 minutes

An action-chase adventure movie featuring two Americans and their pink and black Trans Am, Shaker. Struggling to make ends meet, Judd Pierson, once a top racing driver, and his young mechanic friend Casey Lee are in New Zealand touring a one-man stunt show. A chance meeting with Dr Christine Rubin provides a means for Judd and Casey to make some quick money. Christine is involved in a top secret operation to smuggle a deadly virus out of the country and into the hands of the CIA. Judd and Casey agree to drive her and her cargo on a high speed race to meet the drop off deadline.

“Two Americans are touring a stunt show, appropriately called Helldrivers Auto Circus, through Southern New Zealand. Broke and down on their luck, they are forced to accept an offer to drive a research scientist and her valuable but unnamed cargo to a mountain rendezvous. It is in their best interest to drive as fast as they can. The load they carry for the scientist is the basis for a new biological weapon which she has stolen from the military. They’ll stop at nothing to get it back. Bruce Morrison’s film is fast, furious and not exactly an aesthetic experience, capable as the playing is. Without question, though, it has the best stunts ever accomplished in a New Zealand picture, some of them quite breathtaking. Shaker Run has sold all over the world, and you can see why. The last reel alone is worth the price of admission if you like dare-devilry. And even if you don’t, it’s nice to see Cliff Robertson in a meaty film part again.” — Derek Malcolm, London Film Festival, 1985

“The filming of Shaker Run was more than anything like a military expedition: nine weeks on the road in a freezing South Island winter with 45 vehicles. I was constantly feeling like Chief White Half-Oat in Catch-22 with oil companies hovering on the horizon waiting for his tribe to settle so they could move in, kick out the tribe and drill for oil. I would arrive at some idyllic isolated spot overlooking an empty winter landscape, say ‘this looks like it’ into the radio, and over the horizon would come an army of trucks and campers, transforming that bit of countryside to instant chaos. We were trying within a sort of comic-book, fast-moving style for as much reality as possible, so it was fast- for- fast and stunts-for-real. We were also after a general certificate, so I had much pleasure in expunging most blood, violence (except auto-violence) and overt sex. It made me feel quite wholesome” — Bruce Morrison, London Film Festival, 1985

“Filming for the New Zealand car-chase movie Shaker Run involved some dramatic crashes on Wellington streets… The high-speed action involved cars weaving in and out of traffic along closed-off sections of Willis, Sturdee and Ghuznee Streets and Cuba Mall… Further chase scenes will be filmed on Sunday morning in Taranaki Street and Courtenay Place when film makers plan to roll a car and take another through a plate-glass window.” — The Dominion, 20/8/1984

Screenings: Shaker Run screened on 22 October 2008 as part of the Wellingtonista season; and on 21 November 2007 as part of Hitting the Road, six road movies from New Zealand. It was preceded by Chrysler Hell Drivers [1939], a five minute film of the Hell Drivers demonstrating the strength and safety of Chrysler, Plymouth and DeSoto cars with some daring stunts around the circuit.