Though the biker movie was an exploitation fixture from the '50s through the '70s, there are very few good ones. Sure, the occasional Easy Rider or The Wild One achieves classic status and validates the genre, but most of them were quick-and-dirty efforts too shapeless and forgettable to avoid blurring into one another. To stand out, they have to be something like Werewolves on Wheels or The Pink Angels -- movies you have to see once to believe them, but are unlikely to revisit. The others tend to fade into the background.
Not The Wild Angels, one of the very first and best biker movies released by American International Pictures, the studio most closely associated with the genre. The movie stars Peter Fonda three years before he became a total counterculture icon in Easy Rider; here he plays Heavenly Blues, the leader of the San Pedro chapter of the Hells Angels. His gang gets in fights, they get chased by the cops. One of their members, The Loser (Bruce Dern), gets shot by police during a chase and is hospitalized. The Angels break him out of the hospital and take him with them, but he dies shortly thereafter. So they stage a funeral for him which quickly spirals out of control, leading to more fights, violence and perhaps a new direction for the gang. The '60s, man.
last year compared to other days and b) there just aren't that many good biker movies to offer a lot of options -- at least not that I've seen. Maybe we'll bring it back next year now that The Wild Angels is out on Blu-ray from Olive. It's the purest example of a bikersploitation movie that I've seen, and further evidence of just how far out on the edge Roger Corman and AIP were in the '60s. They were making movies for audiences that weren't being served anywhere else. Isn't that what great exploitation is all about?
Blu-ray release date: February 17, 2015
DTS HD 2.0 Master Audio (English)