It doesn't really surprise anyone that Quentin Tarantino has been casting his shadow on every exploitation revival flick released lately – the guy basically loves the same stuff we do and wants to see it back! Credited as an executive producer of "Hell Ride" – a modern take on an old school biker movie (who ever imagined a comeback of this gritty style?) - we heard he's factually done much more than that. Clearly, it made a good word of mouth and brought a lot of new people to the territory, which they wouldn't normally dare to come anywhere near. Boom and off we go everybody as these old exploitation formulas get their look refreshed and we're here to judge the effect. Only one red flag is up – a market niche fitting this style didn't really break the ground yet, hence things need to be stirred up a little bit. Most likely their way to these pictures will find eventually all crazy maniacs hangin' tough over obscure 60's/70's exploitation oddities, may they only get over all "new sloppines" involved.
To cut it short though, "Hell Ride" is not a good movie by any standards. Plot is thin, acting diluted and occasional nudity or often occuring violence do not make up for it's basic shortcomings. It really makes me wonder how good "The Glory Stompers" (1968) were. Does it hold any aces then??? Yes, a couple I'd say. It's strongest side is the cast including Michael Madsen (unforgettable performance in "Reservoir Dogs"), Dennis Hopper (acting out a great self-homage), Vinnie Jones (a cockney thug in "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels") and even David Carradine, who gets an episodic role. A gig is led though by Larry Bishop – an original member of the cast of obscure 60's biker flick, "Savage Seven" (1968) – who directs the movie as well. All these great actors are shown as furious, pissing-in-your-face bikers of two rivaling clubs – The Victors and The 666ers. This great potential of powerful creations is yet wasted by both directing and the script. What a shame, man (man, man)! Another heart-pumping move ahead is still a great soundtrack by Davie Allan & The Arrows, who didn't record new tracks – the classic ones are used and they still make a fantastic job. Biker sound rules, don't forget about it!
However, I didn't like many fuckin' things about this flick. The exposition of characters and both MCs through often used nowadays still shots with name tagging is just gross. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but for my money it failed here. Another thing is nonsense dragging through meaningless episodes, which are neither catchy nor funny although they are blood-sheding and sometimes filled with nude babes. Some of these scenes can be enjoyed, but too little for my taste. The last but not least, I just couldn't eat these bikers mixed up with a bunch of high rollers as an underlying concept. Other elements of the plot are equally lame, we get Pistolero's (Larry Bishop) peyote trip, which basically means, that we have to stare even more at the unnecessary footage. Some characters are killed over dumbest lines you can imagine and after all, we are tormented with constant flashbacks from the past which take down the intrigue instead of developing it... not saying the story of a vengeance for murder we're fed here, is itself a real low point.
The best moment of the movie is when Eddie Zero (Dennis Hopper) comes into the game – few psychotic lines and suddenly everything looks bright. One of my favourite surf tracks ever – "The Rebel (Without A Cause)" from classic "Apache '65" album – starts when he eventually jumps on the bike lifting this scene a lot! The same applies to Vinnie Jones acting out a scene in a pigpen biker house (or whatever that is). To be honest I didn't much like the chopper riding scenes either, they come as pathetic if we put them next to the genre's most spectacular road shots (think "The Hell's Angels 69"). Who should see this movie then? Only the head losing for a flash of a chopper, genre completists, who will never have enough. They've seen so much baaad shit already, that this one is not gonna kick them in the balls. On second thought, maybe Dennis Hopper's fans as well, who want to see a legend of the counterculture starring in one of his last movies, riding the bike... and even asking for a joint. Otherwise, stay cool and away!