Hall H was half empty for much of the day Friday, as no major blockbusters were scheduled to appear. That’s too bad, because it means that one of the best footage presentations of the convention went largely unseen by the very people who will love the movie when it eventually comes out.

I guess that Patrick Lussier’s Drive Angry isn’t a big buzz film right now, but that has to be rectified soon. Lussier, who directed My Bloody Valentine 3D and showed that he really gets that a 3D horror movie should be in-your-face gimmicky fun, is back with an ode to the pre-Jaws car films. Starring Nic Cage, Amber Heard and William Fichtner, Drive Angry promises to be exactly the sort of physical car smash-em-up that fans have been without for too long. 

The plot is a touch Supernatural - Cage is a man who has broken out of hell, who drives around in a bitching black 69 Camaro, and who has a gun called The God Killer that can destroy anything.  But everything else that’s going on in Lussier and Todd Farmer’s script is vintage exploitation film. The footage that we saw included tons of car crashes and stunts (including one that Lussier said went wrong where a car that was supposed to flip off a bridge nailed the side of the structure first – nobody was hurt and it looks awesome). The movie this seems most influenced by is the Warren Oates/Peter Fonda classic Race with the Devil. We even saw a chase scene that involved an RV camper, just like that film.

But it’s Race with the Devil on mean steroids. Cage is a man who broken free from Hell, and who has stolen the God Killer on his way out. His granddaughter has been kidnapped by Satanists and they’re going to use her to open a gateway to Hell in 24 hours. He means to stop that. Hot on his trail is William Fichtner as The Accountant, a well dressed agent of Hell. ‘The Accountant?’ a guy asks him. ‘Should that mean something to me?’ ‘It would if I put you in my books,’ Fichtner replies dryly. 

I think that the footage shown was a little toned down for Comic Con – it had to be PG-13 – but what we did see was jam packed with vehicular mayhem. Lussier blew up a lot of perfectly good muscle cars on this film. One favorite shot of mine was of Nic Cage shotgunning a muscle car as it jumps over his car, and it exploding in mid-air. Another favorite (especially in 3D) is a shot where a car that’s coming right at Cage flips and smashes just inches from his – you can see that in the clip below.

The 3D looked impressive. The opening scene in the clip below, with the car blowing up in the background, was amazing in 3D. But more amazing than any of the stunts or action scenes was the three dimensional image of Amber Heard’s ass getting out of a car. Lussier knows what his audience is looking for, and he’s more than happy to deliver.

I can’t wait to see more of Drive Angry. If you’re a fan of car films like Vanishing Point or even Death Proof, this is a movie that needs to be on your calendar. It opens February 2011.