16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Did you ever see those old commercials for Reese's Buttercups? The ones where one person's got a bar of chocolate, another person just happens to be standing around with a jar of peanut butter, and some thing happens causing the two edible products get mixed together? Afterwards the two individuals accuse each other of ruining their respective foodstuffs, that is until they taste the combination and discover `two great tastes taste great together'. Well, that's not really the case here with Werewolves on Wheels (1971), as someone tried to mix two genres (biker films and horror films) together, the result being something that tastes kinda icky, cinematically speaking. Co-written and directed (his debut) by Michel Levesque, who would later find his true calling as art director on films like Supervixens (1975), Cannonball! (1976), and Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens (1979), the film features Stephen Oliver, who would later go on to portray the muscled heavy Dugan Hicks in the films The Van (1977) and Malibu Beach (1978), both of which I've had an opportunity to see, for better or worse. Also appearing is Severn Darden (Vanishing Point, The Hired Hand), D.J. Anderson (Dream No Evil), Duece Berry, Billy Gray (The Navy vs. the Night Monsters), inventor of the F-1 guitar pick, and Barry McGuire, former member of The New Christy Minstrels and artist behind the 1960s protest song "Eve of Destruction".
After nearly four minutes of opening credits set against, what else, a group of bikers toolin' down the road, the movie begins proper as said bikers, known as the Devils Advocates (according to their colors), led by Adam (Oliver), chase down a hapless pair of men in an old pick up truck (the driver had a near miss with one of the bikers). The gang finally catches up to the pair at a gas station, proceed to give the driver a beating, followed by fun and games with the gawky, geeky gas station attendant, during which a gang member moll named Shirley pops her top...not bad, a severe thrashing and some sleazy boobage all in the first ten minutes...anyway, soon the gang is back on the road, and they end up camping near a strange, isolated structure populated by monks in brown robes (all members of a Satanic cult). The monks offer the gang some bread and wine, which turns out to be drugged, and the bikers pass out. The leader of the cult, simply named One (Darden), engages in an overly long black magic ceremony, the intent being to turn Adam's chicky Helen (Anderson) into a bride for Satan, culminating in a nekkid snake dance by an enchanted Helen. The gang, finally rising from their doped up stupor, proceed to crack some monk skulls, snatch up Helen, and escape into the desert to `get their heads straight'. They seem in the free and clear, that is until night falls and a couple of members get viciously mauled and killed by some shadowy figures emitting guttural animal-like noises. The bad vibes continue as each night following brings more attacks, and we learn a couple of member of the gang begin displaying lycanthropic tendencies, brought on by a super whammy placed on them by the cult. The plan now is to return to where the cult is and settle the score once and for all, that is if they can keep from ripping each other's throats out before getting there...
This movie started out with potential, but as it progressed, it seemed something was missing...oh yeah, a story. Actually, I think the plot got lost during one of the 162 scenes where we see the boys riding through the southwestern landscapes, perhaps falling off the back of one of the choppers and ending up among the tumbleweeds, never to be seen again. As a result, we get a whole mess of pointless sequences of the boys riding their bikes from place to place, and drinking beer, making camp, building bonfires, and wrestling with each other in the desert (seriously). Eventually the horror elements kick in, as a couple members of the gang go wolfen on their brethren, setting up for a decent biker/werewolf clash near the end, but the wait was long and boring. There were a couple of bright spots, one being during the funeral for the first two members killed (the other members attributed their deaths to accidental causes, namely they were stoned out of their minds, fell down a wash, and broke their necks). Adam delivers a proper eulogy for his fellow biker brother, followed by someone else asking about Shirley (the man's girlfriend, who also died), and another replies `She was a great freak, man!' Another sort of impromptu bit of humor comes from an encounter with an older, uptight, opinionated, mouthy gas station the boys goof on before stealing his gas. My biggest disappointment with this movie was the general lack of skull crackin' fun. During the confrontation between the bikers and the cult members, the cult offers no resistance to getting smacked around, each falling to the ground once struck. I was hoping for some sort of battle royal, the bikers vs. the Satanists, but it never came. Even after the bikers took off, there was no pursuit by the cult members for the sake of retribution.
Here are some things I learned from this film...
1. Bikers sure like to wrestle with each other (maybe a little too much).
2. Bikers generally don't pay for gas.
3. Bikers spend a lot of time trying to `get their heads together'.
4. When on fire, rolling yourself on the ground into a bonfire isn't helpful.
Another disappointing aspect was we don't get to see any real beast action until the last third of the movie. Things do pick near the end, as the movie finally gets its wolf on, and I'll say the creature make-up was decent. There is some bloodletting, but it's fairly minimal (actually, I heard some of the more violent scenes, along with some of the profanities, were removed due to issues with the censors). The acting is so-so, the dialog improvised, and the direction was actually decent. If you don't mind the fact there's so little actual story, you might find this trippy, off-beat, oddball flick fun, albeit a little boring at times.
Dark Sky Films provides an excellent looking, widescreen (1.85:1) anamorphic print on this DVD release, along with a suitable Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track. The picture exhibits some very minor flaws from time to time, but otherwise it's much better than I would have expected. As far as extras, there are English subtitles, a good commentary track featuring director Michel Levesque and co-writer David M. Kaufman, a photo gallery featuring promotional materials for the film, two radio spots, and a rough looking theatrical trailer for the movie along with one for another film called The Losers (1970). All in all an excellent release of a middling film.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
This movie sounded like it would be a lot of off-beat fun and just my style -- a bizarre blend of the horror and biker movie genres. But unfortunately I ended up kind of disappointed with the overall result.
The movie starts out promisingly enough. We find a typical motorcycle gang of the era cruisin' down the highway to the sound of a great original soundtrack (reminds me of The Band or Grateful Dead). After raising some hell at a gas station, they carouse their way to the vicinity of an isolated and mysterious cult's temple. The cult has in mind using one of the bikers' babes for some kind of strange ritual. This provides us with the coolest scene in the movie, as said mesmerized babe proceeds to give us an eyeful of her nudie snake dance, once again to the sound of the movie's fabulous soundtrack which really adds to this scene. Naturally the bikers bust in just in the nick of time to rescue her, but not before being cursed by the cultists.
Up to this point, I was quite enjoying the movie. But from here on, the movie seems to rapidly go downhill. The gang decides to head out to the desert to "get their heads together". This is when mysterious attacks of some kind of "wild animal" begin picking off members of the gang, one by one. But the pace of the movie at this point really slows right down and becomes quite tedious. It just seems to drag on and on till the inevitable ending.
And worst of all, I found this DVD's cover art quite misleading. I would like to warn you that there is actually only ONE werewolf ever seen riding a motorcycle in the entire movie, NOT a whole gang as the cover would seem to suggest. In fact, this DVD also includes commentary from the movie's writer and director, and the writer himself says that the film's whole gimmick is "you only give 'em one werewolf at the end of the movie". It seems that someone else had been considering making this movie, but was planning to give the audience a whole gang of werewolves on motorcycles. But the makers of this film felt that approach was all wrong.
I totally disagree. I think this movie would have been 100 times better with a whole gang of werewolves on motorcycles as promised on the cover. Instead I ended up feeling massively cheated and ripped off by the purposely deceiving cover art.
As usual, Blue Underground have done a superb job restoring this obscure b-classic. The picture is very fine indeed. The commentary from the writer and director is quite fun, as we find out behind-the-scenes details that really reflect the low-budget moviemaking spirit of the times (-- like how most of the cast was stoned out of their minds most of the time!) In addition, there is also a poster and still gallery.
But unfortunately it is the movie itself in this case which I found not quite up to scratch. Simply put, beyond the one really cool scene which I briefly described above, there is not much here worth seeing. I guess that's why this movie has (deservedly) remained in obscurity all these years.
Hey, now there's an idea! Instead of Hollywood wasting millions making pathetically poor remakes of great movies like it has for the past 15 years or so, why not take movies like this that had a great basic concept but poor execution, and turn them into the truly great movies they should have been?
Naw....that would make too much sense. ;)
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I was entertained by this movie in spite of the flaws that come with 70's grindhouse B Movies.
I like werewolf pictures as well as biker flicks, so this movie interested me greatlt; I wasnt disappointed. Movies of this genre can sometimes be guilty of false advertising. For example the movie Hell's Belles, which was not, as the title would suggest, a biker chick movie, or Chain Gang Women, which was not a women in prison flick. Here though, you get just what the title suggests and more; Werewolf bikers and a big dose of 70's satanism.
Yeah there are the ever present moments which either make you wince or scratch your head, but overall, this was an entertaining flick. The music is great, the cinematography is suprisingly good (lots of creative and interesting shots here), and the main character seems to be acting naturally (in other words; his natural real-life personality seems to be very present). I've seen a blue-million 70's grindhouse flicks and this is one of the better ones you can find. You may not be scared while viewing this, but you will probably laugh a lot.
The presentation is great; widescreen and taken from a good print. If youve seen a lot of this kind of thing, and have had your fair share of cheap/shoddy transfers (usually from a beat up VHS) be assured that this is a superior product in a market full of rip-offs.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Robert I. Hedges
- Published on Amazon.com
I must admit that I didn't like "Werewolves on Wheels" very much. It's plodding, and tries to bore the audience into submission with countless shots of bikers riding across the desert southwest, lots of closeups of campfires, and a muddled plot that gets totally lost amid the numerous scenes of disjointed pseudo-mayhem. I gave it two stars because I appreciated the truly bizarre concept of inserting a werewolf into a biker movie and expecting it to work. Despite all the sleaziness, terribly choreographed fight scenes, bogus criminal mischief, satanic monks, and surely improvised padding, all hope for a comprehensible and enjoyable film somehow evaporated. I particularly appreciated the scene where the biker runs through a pasture frightening some cattle. Bikers tease cows! Now that's excitement.
The acting is generally terrible, which is explained by noting that they had the budget for six actors, and the rest of the bikers were played by actual bikers, while the satanic monks were a commune of hippies who worked for food. The production is quite cheap and the lighting is especially poor. Most annoying is the deceptive title: at no point is there a pack of werewolves on bikes, in fact there's only one in full lycanthropic regalia unless I missed something (which is entirely possible given the mind-numbing level of boredom that had set in by the conclusion of the film when the werewolf finally appeared).
The plot (disjointed as it is) concerns a group of bikers who encounter a group of satanic monks led by "One" (Severn Darden). They are offered bread and wine by the monks, but it's drugged and the monks take biker chick Helen (D. J. Anderson) to use in a ridiculous black cat and snake-intensive ritual that highlights the multiple inappropriate and laughable dance sequences in the film. After the black magic wedding of Satanella, the bikers wake up, decimate the monks (in one of the many horribly choreographed fighting and wrestling scenes in the movie), snatch Helen and get back on the road to ride some more while the soundtrack churns out more terrible omnipresent folk music.
A major plotpoint and time-wasting feature is the recurring gas pumping motif, which teaches us that bikers don't like paying for gas, or like gas station attendants very much either. Since there are no sympathetic characters in the whole lot, I breathed a sigh of relief when the cast members started getting attacked at night by an unknown evildoer which set up a system of dueling evils between the bikers and satanic monks ("We're gonna' kill us some monks, man.") This could have been interesting if it was handled better, but instead the bikers spend most of the last half of the movie getting lost in the mysterious desert, wrestling with each other, and (finally) outing their undercover lycanthrope in full makeup (which is by itself pretty hilarious). The conclusion is abrupt, unsurprising, and ultimately unrewarding, just like the rest of the movie.
While the film started with a few conceptual possibilities, it quickly lost momentum and became much more boring than the title would seem to indicate. Unless you are a werewolf or biker movie completist, feel free to skip "Werewolves on Wheels."