Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Peace Killers

The Peace Killers
D: Douglas Schwartz

A bike gang looks to retrieve its leaders ex-old lady, now living on a commune. The hippies will do all they can to protect her, but do flower children stand a chance against psychotic bikers?

Members of the Death Row MC (who have a lame name and terrible colors) spot Kristy (Jess Walton), former old lady of their president, Rebel (Clint Ritchie). It turns out she's now living on a commune outside of town with her brother Jeff (Michael Ontkean, who reminds me of James Naughton). Clearly a follower/climber, Kristy, once an MC prez's girl, is now the main squeeze of the commune's leader, the Jesusish Alex (Paul Prokop). The bikers do not simply wish her well, pleased to see she's found happiness. The way they see things, you don't just walk away from the club; in a (pretty effectively shot) flashback, we learn that the last girl who tried to leave was gang raped. The gang beats info on Kristy's location out of a local general store owner, and sets out to reclaim what's theirs. The hippies give them little trouble.
Though she's terrorized for their entertainment, the bikers decide to hold off on raping her and merely stash her, and she of course escapes. Before she's home free, however, she's picked up by a rival gang, the (bi-racial) Branded Banshees. They decide to help her, though only because their leader, Black Widow (blaxploitation vet Lavelle Roby, who's great here), sees rescuing her as part of a revenge plot against the hated Rebel. Knowing Death Row will soon follow, they roar back to the commune to prepare for the coming showdown.
The cops have already been called to no avail, so the peaceniks reluctantly agree that they must put aside their pacifism to protect one of their own. They set about creating weapons and preparing for battle in a great montage (including "Braveheart" type pikes set up to pierce cycle tires--and peace signs sharpened into spear tips!). All, that is, except for violence-is-never-the-answer Alex, who wants no part of it; instead he does the walking around reflecting bit, to the strains of a terrible song called "White Dove." Death Row eventually arrives, and the showdown begins...
I'm not the spoiler type, so I'll say only that the violent climax does not disappoint.

Overall, a surprisingly good one, right from the very cool title card. Apart from two dreadful songs by apparent Grace Slick wannabe Ruthann Friedman, the soundtrack (by Kenneth Waneberg) is cool, with fuzz & jew's harp instros and the like. Most of the acting is non-cringeworthy, though the only background bikers that really stand out are Cowboy (John Raymond Taylor), the pervy Snatch (Nino Candito--what a cool name), and Banshee member Blackjack (Albert Popwell; if you've seen just about any '70s action movie, you've seen him as a pimp or petty criminal). It's a violent one, though not so much so that it's numbing, and while the story drags in places, it's coherent and well told. While having a stars & bars waving, grey cap wearing biker named Rebel's most hated enemy be a tough black woman is hardly subtle, the corny messages/statements aren't as hamfisted as you'd think, either.

I'd seen this one on trade lists over the years; having now seen it (on Netflix of all places), I'm kicking myself for not doing so sooner.
Out of five joints, this gets three plus a healthy sized roach.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Let the Run Begin, Brothers and Mamas

Been waiting to unveil this bitch until I had a few review notes stockpiled. Well, the stash is looking good, so let's party, mothers. Crack open a can of Coors, fire up some ditchweed, and let's trip on down the highway and dig the scenes.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Message from the Prez

Welcome, brothers and other mothers, to the clubhouse.

If there's one thing I could reach back and grab from my late '70s-early 80's formative years, it might be the Philly (though surely it was cool everywhere) UHF TV I grew up on. The Japanese sci-fi shows after school, lunacy like Uncle Floyd late at night, weekends with Laurel & Hardy and the Little Rascals early and then "Kung Fu Theater" and horror movies with Dr. Shock later, fucked up commercials (OK, no more hyperlinks), WWWF (later WWF) wrestling... It was heaven. Channel 48, like stations in many cities no doubt, used to hype up the cheap movies they bought as filler and the ones they got stuck with in those package deals --the movies that came with the bundle when they wanted the good ones-- in a variety of ways beyond the "creature (usually double) feature" type shows, one being the "theme week." Five nights of Eastwood, or Bronson, or Planet of the Apes (never the too expensive first one; usually "Beneath..." and two or three of the next three, then one or two edited from episodes of the TV show), or spaghetti westerns, etc. The only one that got me more geeked up than "Ape Week" was "Biker Week."

Jesus, I loved those crummy movies. And I knew they were about as realistic as shit like Space Giants (damn, I said no more links, didn't I), but I didn't care. My dad was a union plumber and later a plumbing contractor, spent a lot of time in bars, and liked to party some, and we're from an area thick in (mainly) Warlocks and other bike clubs, so I'd been around actual bikers. I overheard a lot of conversations about guys linked to some serious crimes, and some of these guys were pretty rowdy and/or goddamned nutty, but to me most were just guys, and nice guys at that. I preferred the psychopaths from "The Born Losers" and "The Glory Stompers."...It's just my aesthetic, I guess. So it's ludicrous. And? I mean, I was no more than 7 when my dad "smartened me up" about pro wrestling being a work--and we still loved watching it together, rooting for the Samoans and Fred Blassie and Superstar Graham. And it's why, for example, I later dug GG Allin because --not in spite-- of the fact that he was essentially a gimmick, a persona a la Roddy Piper or Lou Albano... And why I still love them dopey biker movies.

I've seen some really helpful guides to a lot of genre pictures, but no biker movie guides. OK, yeah, there are a few out there, but none aimed at viewers like me. Most seem put together by motorcycle enthusiasts, and cover just about any movie with a motorcycle prominently featured. Though it fails to meet my criteria as biker film proper, I can see including, say, 1957's "Motorcycle Gang" (a JD movie about a gang of kids who just happen to ride motorcycles and not hot rods; by the way, it's not only a solid juvenile delinquent entry but stars a growed up Alfalfa), but "Girl on a Motorcycle" and "The Great Escape"? And none of these are very detailed. I want a guide, not merely a list. Maybe, like me, you'll watch any biker movie, particularly one made between '68 and '72. But going in blind is fine when it's a Netflix rental, not so much when you're laying out a sawbuck or two for a DVD or even a DVD-R.

So if I don't see any sites I like, why not do my own? I thought about it a bit, then started taking notes while watching movies, and found it was actually a lot of fun. Now I'm not just enjoying the movie, there's actually a (stupid) purpose to it. And what the hell, maybe this gets some views and not only helps out other fans but connects me with some folks I can trade DVD-R's and info and memories with. Then again maybe not, but what the fuck.

Whether or not that happens, I'm at least trying to do this right. This is not some bullshit list; nothing will be posted unless I've seen it. In fact, nothing will be posted until I've seen it since deciding to do this, even movies I've seen a hundred times. They will be rated within their own universe, and not compared to anything else. Like I said, every one of them (OK, almost every one of them) is worth a viewing, but if it's one you can only see by hard searching and/or shelling out some money, here's at least one source for opinions not coming from a guy trying to sell the movies to you.

Entries will list title (duh), year, director, stars, claim to fame (if any), a brief plot blurb, review, and rating. There will also be a zillion tags, so things can be found easily: title, release year for you chronology sticklers, director and/or actors if they've done other biker flicks (it's fun to keep track of these actors, especially the extras) or are otherwise notable, those with Hell's Angels connections for you would-be Angels buffs, names of actual MC's in the movie when applicable, and anything else I think might merit a cross reference. What a guy, right? Hey, it's why I'm President of this outfit.

That's President, not dictator, by the way. I run the show, but your input is more than welcome. If you've got questions, corrections, suggestions, or any other -ions or comments --don't be yella about it, open your goddamn yap.