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.

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