Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The Glory Stompers (1968)

1966 was a great year for American International Pictures, producers and managers brainstormed, used their focus groups and eventually gave birth to a real creep – biker movie! A first in the genre was "The Wild Angels" directed by Roger Corman – a straight up nightmare, but more than a success in the box office. Produced as always for a dime, it brought AIP piles of $ and as their popularity was going through the roof, Corman was riding a high tide as well. Happy time for exploitation pictures indeed!

Soon whole wave of clones, copies and lame ripoffs followed, produced by all other independent film companies in California. Everybody wanted to cash on a new, wildly successful genre when it was still hot. As with every gold fever, the ones who do not dig right hit the bottom line. Although among all these biker flicks we may definitely spot some real pearls of rush film making, most of them were cheap, trashy, nonsense, horrible pictures, which looked more like stoned fantasies of a half-brained smalltime produced and his buddies – totally unwatchable stuff, which today circulates on bootlegs and could be effectively used for brainwashing these poor chaps in Guantanamo. Yes, I like some of them, but they’re not for everybody.

Fortunately, "The Glory Stompers" was one of best in the genre – a stud in the sea of moonshine (whatever), which is still enjoyable to watch today. It’s downside is corny screenplay and lurid set production, but the upside is great creation of Dennis Hopper and fantastic soundtrack by Davie Allan & The Arrows (who even get cameo in the middle of the movie). Hopper plays Chino – a leader of small, but brutal Black Souls MC. The bikers – as we might expect – just cruise around smoking dope and drinking beers trying to score. A real fun starts when they spot a pretty blonde, who unfortunately is made up by Cowboy, a member of The Glory Stompers MC. Chino is not a character, who asks for permission to take what he desires, so his guys follow Cowboy and take the broad away leaving him knocked off in the bushes by the lake to rot.

As Cowboy is far from being dead, he wakes up three hours later and goes after the brutes trying to cut the distance. That’s basically the storyline and so we are led by director through some hot Harley riding scenes, camping scenes, love-in in the wilderness filled with booze, weed and acid and eventually we get to the point, in which Chino decides to sell the faithful and irreconcible girl to Mexican pimps for 2 grand, who will hook her up on H. Lust and backstabbing are to come in the way of this plan finally leading to the end of the movie spiked up with madness, vengeance and violence. Totally sweet stuff for biker movies’ maniacs!

This is certainly a good genre flick, but not destined for unexperienced users, so if you’re not strongly attached to 60’s exploitation or unless you want to check out Dennis Hopper’s creation, you can leave it and stick to "The Wild Angels" only. For the bad guys, there’s a plenty of fun here. Steel hogs, pretty girls, iron crosses, bikers on a bad trip and of course heavily improvised Hopper’s lines. It’s definitely fascinating to see this guy with a joint in his mouth jabbering something like: "What did I tell you, man?" I fell in love with his jibbery, wild acting since I discovered "Easy Rider" when I was 16, so watching him in a movie preceding his swan song is something very peculiar for me. Of course, it’s not a masterpiece, but in it’s class it’s a solid bet.