Written by: Carroll Jenkins on April 27th, 2014
Theatrical Release Dates: USA, 2008
Director: Larry Bishop
Writer: Larry Bishop
Cast: Julia Jones, Larry Bishop, Leonor Varela, Austin Galuppo, Pete Randall, Vinnie Jones, David Carradine, Dean Delray, Michael Beach, Steve McCammon, Michael Madsen, Eric Balfour
DVD Release Date: October 28th, 2008
Approximate Running Time: 84 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
DVD Release: Dimension Extreme
Region Encoding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $12.95
Synopsis: In 1976 a bad thing happened that is coming to a head 32 years later as a bloody vendetta between two rival outlaw motorcycle gangs.
This is one hell of a ride on many levels, but you might have to be versed in the culture to appreciate it: owned and operated motorcycles, been to biker parties, or watched biker movies. Having survived all of the above might be pre-requisite to truly enjoying this homage to the biker gang culture in general and it’s cinematic legacy in particular. Inspired by classic biker flicks such as Girls From Thunder Strip (1966), Wild Angels (1966), and Hells Angels on Wheels (1967), this film is rather episodic but so were those seminal features.
Director, writer, and leading man Steve Bishop appeared in multiple ‘golden age’ biker epics (Savage Seven, Angel Unchained, Chrome And Hot Leather) but now treads the path blazed by auteur Tom McLaughlin with Born Losers, enabled in no small way by support of producer Quentin Tarantino. Bishop might not have the screen charisma of Adam Roarke or Jeremy Slate, but he does present some heavyweight talent in the persons of Michael Madsen, Dennis Hopper, and David Carradine. Hopper may have bestowed Easy Rider upon us, but his cult biker legacy emanates from his performance in The Glory Stompers.
The Glory Stompers is most likely the primary influence upon Hell Ride. Both plots center around the deadly rivalry between two gangs over a woman, with some ancillary adventures thrown in for good measure. And they share not only Hopper, but Davie Allen and the Arrows are heard in the form of classic biker soundtrack selections and newly recorded releases. The soundtrack of Hell’s Belles is heavily present as well, but the inclusion of Unconscious Power by Iron Butterfly (the original incarnation of the group) is a masterstroke as it represents the essence of the Gold selling Easy Rider Soundtrack in a single track.
H. G. Lewis attempted to mix gore with [female] bikers in She-Devils On Wheels; a good concept poorly realized. Bishop takes the gore and runs wild with it. The preferred method of minimizing risks is to slice the throat, pour on the gasoline, and set that joker on fire, although other methods of extermination are presented. There is lots of sleaze and nudity, a peyote trip (another Billy Jack influence?) and, well, general mayhem ensues.
Presented in scope 2:35 ratio by Tarantino, rest assured this looks as good as was intended. There is lots of post-production processing, especially in the pre-credit and peyote trip sequences, so don’t expect a contiguous presentation. English and Spanish subtitles and lots of extra features make this a special edition release.
There is a story here under all the excess, it just might take multiple viewings to appreciate it all. You know, like a road trip there and back again.
Note: This film was also released by Dimension Extreme on BluRay.