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Running on Empty (1982)

Mike is a young man who is a budding street racer, and owner of a Ford Falcon GT-HO Phase III. His best mate and mechanic, Tony, are both steel workers by day, but when they aren't working, they are racing.


John Clark


John Clark (original idea), Barry Tomblin


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Terry Serio ... Mike
Deborah Conway Deborah Conway ... Julie
Max Cullen ... Rebel
Richard Moir ... Fox
Penne Hackforth-Jones Penne Hackforth-Jones ... Dave
Vangelis Mourikis ... Tony
Grahame Bond Grahame Bond ... Jagger
Bob Barrett Bob Barrett ... Workman
Warren Blondell Warren Blondell ... Lee
Jon Darling Jon Darling ... Workman
Peter Davies Peter Davies ... Ram's Mate
Kristoffer Greaves Kristoffer Greaves ... Starter
Paul Johnstone ... Lecherous Garage Attendant
Chris Haywood ... Photographer
Maurice Hughes Maurice Hughes ... Foreman


This film collects just what it was like to be in Australia in the early 80's. It's about hot cars, hot chicks and hot times. The story begins when two local street racers agree to race Fox, the faster street drag racer there is. After two of the three race rounds, the race is no longer a game, but more of a survival! Written by Graham Wilson Jr <diex@suburbia.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Suddenly it was no longer a game. See more »


Action | Drama | Sport


R | See all certifications »






Release Date:

5 August 1982 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

Fast Lane Fever See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


When Mike pulls up to the planned drag race after he claims the 57 Chevrolet a silver Ford Falcon XB panel van with the "Interceptor" front end sheetmetal (made famous in the first two Mad Max films) is seen. This was known as a "Monza" front end. See more »


In the opening scene Fox is racing a yellow 1969 HT Holden Monaro. When the HT crashes over the VW it changes into a 1968 HK Holden Monaro. Note tail lights. See more »


Rebel: Ay? Sounds like she's got a wobble in the bottom end.
See more »


It All Comes Runnin' Back
Sung by Terry Serio
Music & Words by Peter Crosbie & John Clark
Available on Regular Records through WEA
See more »

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User Reviews

Running on Emty on DVD
2 May 2007 | by SlutswoolSee all my reviews

For those of you out there who have seen this pic on VHS, I would recommend the DVD. In fact the VHS is utter rubbish. The main reason is that the film was shot widescreen (2.55:1) and the producers ran out of money making the VHS version and released it as 4:3. The result is that several actors are not on screen at all, and in many drag races, less than half the cars are showing since one is on each side of the screen. The DVD is actually a reasonable version of the film.

A lot of the best scenes in the film were cut before the final release. They were viewed as being too offensive to minority groups. In fact the prospect of a US release caused even more cuts in the film. For example, the Americans reputedly did not understand words such as Petrol & Strides.

Mike's dad and mum were meant to be hippies. The dad survives in the film as a wasted dope smoking guitarist. But the following scene with the mum was cut. The scene took place in the roof space of the house which was lined with aluminium foil, fluoro lights and filled with plants... you get the picture. The producers had rounded up a lot of real plants for the foreground and when they saw the result on the big sheet, they freaked and the scene was cut. Cowards!

Yes, the film is noted as an Australian cult classic. Voted #2 in Street machines best 100 films of all time, narrowly missing out to Mad Max ll. The latter had over 10 times the budget of ROE. In fact the budget on ROE was so small that the director could not afford to wreck any of the cars... even though there would have been a public outcry if anyone had wrecked a real HO. (compare that with Smoky and the Bandit or Blues Bros where dozens of cars were wrecked.)

So there's one real GTHO and two fakes. One of the fakes was bought from the local indigenous community in Cobar after the standby GTHO crashed into the back of the Country Boy's truck. (That was unscripted! The car was meant to burst out from the side of the truck.) Because the budget was so tight, the car was made up with ordinary brown masking tape instead of the painted on gold trim of the real thing.

The 55 chev is absolutely real. The car began as a very plain 4 door and was brilliantly and quickly converted to the blown '55 in the film. The motor was a marinised 545 which made around 1000 bhp. This was reduced to around 600 for the filming. The car was able to easily to 170 mph as show in several scenes in the film.

Just for the record, anyone with $12,000 could have picked up ALL the cars after the film. The HO, the Dodge, the '53 Ute, Rammer's 53 Chev... the lot. Wonder where they are now?


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