Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
Released on September 8, 1971
Directed by Richard Kanter
Written by Richard Kanter, from a story by Sal Comstock
Cast: Arell Blanton, Alex Rocco, Elizabeth Knowles, Sherry Bain, Jax Carroll, Steve Vincent, Bill Collins, Ted Hayden, Ray Galvin, Diana Jones, Linda Johanesen, Frank Charolla, Ray Galvin, Dirty Denny
How’s this for a cinematic gene splice: Easy Rider and Of Mice and Men! Two chopper assholes—one a too-cool schemer who murders his girlfriend, the other a child-like goofus who gets on your nerves mere seconds after he’s introduced—get booted out of their gang, terrorize two women in their home near the Griffith Observatory, and die a deserving death by film’s end. Fun!
Newcomer Arell Blanton, playing the smooth-talking killer, resembled SCTV’s Joe Flaherty spoofing Peter Fonda with a Robert Mitchum dialect, while Alex Rocco (looking like a scruffier version of the GEICO caveman) overplayed his dirtball idiot role well beyond the hilt; both characters obviously had some screws loose, and both spent the majority of the film proving that point to the two mixed-up housewives they took hostage.
The ‘60s and ‘70s motorcycle culture was not well-represented or witnessed here, except for some ripe cool-daddy lingo and a few fistfights; director Richard Kanter, who in a ten-year career directed nine films (eight of which were soft-core porn movies, so why he was tabbed to helm an outlaw biker film is a mystery), at least tried to be creative, but he was unfortunately saddled with his own restrictive screenplay, which limited his camerawork to a few backyard swimming pool shots and a host of nondescript household interiors.
As a storyteller, though, he sure knew how to pile on the sleaze, and he did come up with an original method of execution for his slam-bang conclusion: a cello bow to the eye of one man and a pointy cello endpin to the gut of another, both administered by a pissed-off husband who didn’t like coming home to find his wife and her friend harassed by a pair of meatball motorbike dregs.
In fact, this musician husband was the only admirable character in the film, but his screen time was so minimal, it was hardly worth the effort. Most biker films have a character or characters you can root for, whether it be the ‘good guys’ menaced by biker gangs, or heroic members of biker gangs themselves; for me, it’s one of the few aspects that makes these movies watchable, and its absence here was what made Wild Riders such a chore to get through.
Who do you pull for, the immoral cycle jerks who represent our ‘heroes’, or the dimbulb women who can’t decide whether they’re attracted to these idiots or repulsed by them? Another facet of these films that seems to be commonplace is that, in the end, the bikers never win; this time around, neither do we. Skip this bottom-dwelling scumbag of a biker film and check out The Glory Stompers or The Peace Killers instead. (2/10)