Sunday, January 15, 2012

In the wind

Know it's been kinda dead around here, but I've been on a run, so to speak, and should be rolling back to the clubhouse soon.

By the way, if any of you trader types have the Australian movie "Stone," get in touch. Looking to get it; besides, it'd give me a reason to make a trade list, which I'm too lazy to do.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Hellcats

The Hellcats
1967 D: Robert F. Slatzer (also co-wrote, acts)

Army vet, out to avenge his cop brother's murder, infiltrates gang who runs dope for the mob

All I remembered about this was that I never really followed it; after seeing it again about 15 years later while watching more closely, I still have no idea what the hell's going on. I've been putting off reviewing this, because it's so utterly incoherent that I'm not sure how.
The film opens with the funeral of one of the club's members, whom we learn from a couple of cops watching from nearby was about to rat on them. Also watching are two mob guys (one of whom, Mr Adrian, is terribly played by the director), who are actually "hiding" by squatting behind a tombstone. I have no idea what the hell they're talking about.
After a ridiculously long, hand-off filled relay, the bikers deliver "the powder" (which is never identified and looks like about half an ounce) to Mr. Adrian and his Fred Willard-ish henchman. Later, a cop is killed by a mob sniper for some reason.
Enter Ross Hagen as Monte, the cop's brother, just out of the Army. He and his brother's former fiancee Linda decide to infiltrate the club, and with an ease that's stunning even for a film like this, do just that. From there it's drug running, kidnappings, and fights, none of which make any sense at all, padded out with what are possibly the most boring "partyin'" scenes ever put on film.
Slatzer is just awful as an actor, far worse as a director, and still worse as a writer. Compared to him, everyone else seems to be chewing up the scenery, the cuts to close-ups when lines are delivered are downright disturbing, and between those lines (pathetic attempts at biker/hepcat and mobster lingo: "I tell the blue, I got rights. Freedom of speech. And they say, not here you don't. And they smack me five times on the wrist. And I'm a believer, man." Or how about: "Hey, what's the action? Drop the steel." ) and the mess of a plot, the viewer's constant reaction is "Wait--what?"
To prove his mettle, Monte (btw-- fucking "Monte"?!) competes with rival biker Snake in a game where each is tied by the feet to the back of a trike and must hold onto another by his hands for at least 15 seconds as the bikes pull in opposite directions, then let go and be dragged down a dirt road. Sounds like a cool scene, no? Slatzer makes this so mind-numbingly dull that it's almost impressive.
Does it at least have a decent soundtrack? No, it does not.
One of the weakest of the era. I'm only giving this a 1.5 because the eyepatch wearing Rita (Shannon Summers, who according to imdb never worked before or since) is so incredibly cute.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Northville Cemetery Massacre

Northville Cemetery Massascre (aka Freedom RIP)
D: William Dear & Thomas L. Dyke

Outlaw bikers are hunted down by the man for a crime they didn't commit

Like "The Black Angels" and other classics, this was a very low budget film shot for the local drive-ins, in this case the Detroit area. I'd heard about this for years, then finally got a DVD-R of it some years back (shortly after, a splendidly done special edition DVD was released). I was not disappointed.
Vietnam vet Chris is a friend of the MC the Spirits (all played by Detroit club the Scorpions; Carson Jackson as Deke is especially good); his older brother was a Spirit who was killed in an accident while Chris was in 'Nam. He and girlfriend Lynn are partying with the club at an outdoor wedding of one of its members.
Later, he and Lynn adjourn to a barn loft to get it on--but the evil Putnam and another cop knock him out and rape Lynn. Putnam threatens Lynn to keep the truth to herself, and puts the blame on Chris and the Spirits. He then riles up Lynn's over-protective, gullible, reactionary father, and enlists the aid of wealthy right-wing kook Mr. Armstrong. Fuck framing the bikers--the plan is to hunt them down and kill them.
When two Spirits are gunned down outside their clubhouse, they assume it's the work of another club, the Road Agents (played by the Road Agents MC). Eventually they realize that the Agents aren't involved, and prepare for war with the real culprits, renting rifles and buying grenades from a local crazy militia type. It all builds up to the final showdown at the burial of the two killed Spirits at Northville Cemetery.
This was renamed; the somewhat ill-fitting name refers to the film's climax. This was shot, and occasionally released, as "Freedom RIP." This is important to note, as it ties in with the flick's "statement." The Spirits' colors are American flag-ish, and their bottom rocker is "RIP" and not a chapter; Putnam and Lynn's father first meet in front of Rip's diner, and only "RIP" from its sign is in frame; as the bikers are pulled over and hassled by the cops, the National Anthem is playing on a car radio's broadcast of a ballgame; a biker is shot while reading from a Bible... OK, it's not too subtle. Nor are the characters: the corrupt and power-drunk cop; the protective father who's a good man but easily led by the alleged good guys; the crazy, rich, conservative reactionary type; the second amendment extremist who thinks he's Patton... It's a wonderfully cliche relic from the days when it was the right wingers who were the joyless fascist assholes. This all makes it sound like a corny, heavy-handed statement film, but everything works.
The shoestring budget gives it an air of realism, like "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" or "The Last House on the Left," and while gun dealer Captain Freedom is a bit over the top, the directors get some pretty strong performances out of a cast of amateurs and non-actors. The buildup of tension is very well done, and there are some great scenes. The Spirits-Road Agents meeting at a drive-in stands out, as does the post-shooting bleep-filled tv interview with one of the Spirits. Includes some great lines as well (judge to bikers: "I know all about you. I go to the movies").
The opening voiceover is by an unbilled Nick Nolte, and the entertaining narrative-type soundtrack is by Michael Nesmith (and really needs an official CD release--Rhino Handmade, where ya at?).
A solid 4 stars for this once-lost classic.

Monday, October 31, 2011


Psychomania (aka The Death Wheelers)
D: Don Sharp

British gang learns how to become immortal--through suicide

In the intro to the (fantastic looking) dvd version, Fangoria editor in chief Chris Alexander mentions that this was the first horror video he ever purchased; I could say the same, only mine was on an LP-recorded twofer with the utterly unrelated (and far less entertaining) "Alice Sweet Alice." This one has a special place in my heart. It's part "Angels from Hell," part "A Clockwork Orange," AND it's a horror film! With some great black comedy!
British gang the Living Dead, with prophetic name and bad ass skull-painted helmets, are led by Tom (Nicky Henson), the wealthy and nihilistic son of a medium. Through his mother and her... butler? master? personal assistant? mentor? Shadwell (George Sanders), Tom gains spiritual knowledge, including the secret to becoming immortal: Killing yourself while believing 100% that you will return. There are the expected conflicts and plot devices, but the highlights of the film are the bikers (with great names like Hatchet, Gash, and Chopped Meat [the latter of whom looks like an evil Danny Bonaduce]) killing themselves.
"Psychomania" is an absolute blast. Tom is an incredible bastard, a cross between Alex from "Clockwork" and Brian Jones, Mary Larkin is perfectly corny as his girlfriend Abby, and although Sanders is kinda sleepwalking through his role*, everyone else is solid as well... While some of the horror elements come off a bit dated, they're mostly quite good and are blended well with comedy, both intentional and un-: Tom's burial, sitting astride his motorcycle (and I guess funerals at national historic sites are ok in England) is ridiculous, but his rising is cool as shit looking. The opening sequence is brilliant.
In a fairly recent interview in Rue Morgue, Henson said he was disappointed by the bikes; he wanted to do the film based on the first lines of the script, depicting the guys on Harleys. On set, he was disappointed to see British motorcycles. As an American viewer, I disagree. It seems more fitting to me that they be on their own country's bikes. Still, having the spoiled rich dude on the crappiest looking Triumph of the bunch does kinda stand out as a distraction.
Apart from the godawful "Riding Free" (which I'd occasionally torture my wife by earnestly singing), the soundtack, by a band called Frog, is mostly outstanding.
This one gets its pick of any four candy bars in the bowl, and not that "fun size" bullshit, either.

* This was also his last. Shortly after this film, George Sanders killed himself, but, as the Pschotronic Encyclopedia of Film points out, "did not return on a motorcycle."

The Violent Kind

The Violent Kind
D: Mitchell Altieri, Phil Flores

Some white trash young adults in a remote house are menaced by something even nastier than outlaw bikers...

In the first third, it's established that Q (Bret Roberts) is a tough guy, DILIGAF* member of the not-quite inventively named MC The Crew. His best friend Cody (Cory Knauf), who was never patched in due to a scandal that landed him in prison, and another pal head up to Cody's mom's remote place in the northern California woods for a club party. They establish Cody's backstory of conflict with Q and the Crew (which sounds like a terrible '80s pop-r&b outfit), the party soon ends, and all trappings of this being the kind of biker movie the ads and box art imply are pretty much over and done with.
From there, it's half typical direct to dvd young people stranded in a remote house being stalked by outsiders movie, and half direct to dvd young people stranded in a remote house where a supernatural force is building movie. Someone in the woods is watching them, there are what seem to be flashbacks of violent murders, people die and are possessed, etc. Until the final third, when said stalking outsiders appear.
They turn out to be a group of street hoods from the '50s who are now undead '50s retro hipsters. Greaser Vern, hepcat Jazz, mildly retarded greaser thug Murderball, and their gals Trixie and (I am not making this up) Pussywagon do the tie them up and fuck with them thing.
I quickly saw that this was in no way, shape, or form going to be a biker flick, and the whole Crew backstory was probably added to glom onto the popularity of The Sons of Anarchy. Still, I at least expected a halfway decent horror movie. I did not get one... This isn't exactly my first foray into direct to disc horror; I know what I'm getting into. I'm ok with going in expecting a cheap good time. The less than spectacular effects, for example, are no problem. This was simply not good.
I don't anticiapte top-notch performances, but the leads should at leat be passable. While the women were ok, the males were brutal. I figured a guy named Cory playing a guy named Cody was a bad sign, and his way-too-McConaughey performace was worse than I'd expected. Bret Roberts was simply terrible, and the less said about the villains, the better. I'm pretty liberal with accepting plot holes, but the overall plot should at least make some kind of sense (and if you hang in there with this thinking, "I hope it at least has a decent ending," you're gonna be pissed). The direction and editing are terrible; the scenes with the greasers are supposed to by David Lynch-like, and it's just embarrassing. The only thing shocking about the gore is how little of it there is.
The soundtrack was actually not bad at all.
One piece of candy (the Raisinettes nobody wants) for this Halloween dud.

* "Do I look like I give a fuck?"

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Still on the road

No, the man ain't run me outta town. 'Fact, this is just a quickie before the Halloween post tomorrow... Just been busy on the new bar & clubhouse... Any wine dinkers out there? Those Aussies know that since any cheap red is likely a good one, the best way to hook some of us types is with the label. Been a fan of Old Plains' Stooges/punk rock themed Raw Power for a while (and their Funhouse pinot grigio isn't bad either, for a ten dollar white), as well as silliness like the actually OK Luchador. But dig on this Malbec/Shiraz, part of their pulp themed labels: Cycle Buff Beauty. A label suitable for framing, and - no shit, brothers - a damn fine cheap red.

In other non-film news, and for you Manson...uh...buffs? fans? enthusiasts? Our man in Arizona tipped me off a few weeks back that someone was on ebay selling the Straight Satans San Fernando Valley chapter cut seen below. Bidding price got well up into four digits but then the auction was pulled. Don't know by whom or why, but it's not exactly surprising. Selling a club's rags -whether you were ever the one who earned 'em or not - is (fuckin' DUH) a goddamn NO-NO. Still pretty cool to see 'em though...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

On hiatus again

Got some thangs going on 'round here, no time for movies. I shall return, though.
I've had time for just half an hour to an hour of teevee lately, so I've been watching Combat! on dvd. In syndication it seemed that they mainly showed the later (color) seasons, so I hadn't seen many of the really early episodes - the direction is outstanding. Man, you could really count on seeing some great shots in those '60s b&w dramas.