Friday, May 15, 2009
This is a trilateral bipartisan Biker Movie blogathon.
All with blogs are invited!
Link to us and we’ll link to you.
Currently the members of this Motorcycle Club Mutual Non-Aggression Pact include:
The Otto Mannix Report (check out his granny-glasses-wearing bike-straddlin' cameo!)
and American National Standard (where the tough questions are asked).
UPDATE!!! Looks like the Rockin' Monkey survived the initiation and has joined the pack.
Good, job sir. Check it out.
UPDATE!!! (as of June 8, 2009) The awesome Andrew Bemis of the fab Cinevistaramascope has caught up with the gang and posted a very astute review of the classic biker flick, Satan's Sadists. Check it out.
Back in 1990, I was lucky enough to be able to curate a biker movie retrospective at the Anthology Film Archives in New York City.
It was summer, and I had been griping to then-house manager Richard Chudnov (RIP) about what I felt were a series of boring film retrospectives around town. He threw the gauntlet and said why don’t you do one?
Why biker movies? I’m no expert. Sure, I’d seen plenty—more than most probably—and I liked them on the whole, but
I was more influenced (I think) by the then-recent success of the Film Forum’s sci-fi movie festival (and how come they don’t do that anymore?)—I saw that genre flicks did well, and around 1990, being “transgressive” had been all the rage, especially around the East Village/Lower East Side/Alphabet City zone.
I figured those biker movies from 1966 to 1974, the ones that came specifically in the wake of the formula Roger Corman & Co. created with The Wild Angels, would be retro-transgressive.
A few months later, with the invaluable help of Anthology Film Archives chief curator Ralph McKay and the UCLA Film and Television Archive (and of course good ole Jonas Mekas), “Chrome, Scum & Celluloid: Biker Movies 1966 – 1974,” subtitled: “18 Really Cool Movies About BAD People,” started.
(click image to enlarge)
The festival ran from September 20 (a Thursday!) till October 28 (a Sunday, I think, certainly on Halloween weekend).
Confession time: We swiped the image for our poster from the poster of the excellent biker film (one of the few) Hell’s Angels ’69. Thanx.
Hell’s Angels ’69 stars some of the very Oakland club members that Hunter S. Thompson featured in his classic book: Sonny Barger, Terry the Tramp, Magoo and others.
Ironically, the movie is more of a caper flick, than anything else: Two spoiled rich kids plan to rip off Caesar’s Palace in Vegas and use the Hells Angels as a diversion. The heist is a success, but the getaway is complicated by having to cross the desert on dirtbikes chased by Sonny and the boys—a scene that is still exciting to watch: there’s great aerial photography of some dangerous-looking riding set to some gnarly and fuzzy pseudo-acid rock. Cool stuff all around.
It’s no surprise that the bikers do a great job playing bikers, and their scenes of partying, riding or hanging out do have a quasi-documentary feel. Meanwhile, compared to the back-stabbing thieves, the Angels come off pretty well: brutally honest, cunning and loyal.
Note to proofreaders: the organization known as Hells Angels does not use the apostrophe anymore. Check out their site, see for yourself.
GO SONNY, GO!
Every weekend Chrome, Scum & Celluloid featured a new double-feature (natch), sometimes two.
(click image to enlarge)
Did I see every film? Of course I did! What sort of curator wouldn’t see the movies he’s promoting? But I am sad to admit that I can’t remember them all. A lot of them blend together, and the fact that so many of them, like The Glory Stompers (with Dennis Hopper) or Devil’s Angels (with John Cassavettes and—meow!—Mimsy Farmer) are not available on DVD, preventing me from refreshing this life-addled noggin of mine.
Because of Chrome, Scum & Celluloid, I wound up being interviewed in various NYC periodicals, and got a few free drinks (but never enough, never enough…).
Chrome, Scum & Celluloid was given small but positive-sounding notices in The New York Times (and the notice is up at their website!), The Village Voice and The New York Press, as well as Daily Variety (these were essentially rewritten press releases, I recognized, but any press is good press, and I was hoping that the retro-sleazeball aspect of the festival would catch someone’s eye).
Longer articles appeared in The Daily News, The New York Post and (this is the one that stroked my ego the most) The New Yorker.
This (below) is from “VROOM BOOM!: Biker films roar into view at Anthology” by Jami Bernard for The New York Post’s “On the Town” section (September 20, 1990, p.19).
In the article below, I explain why Easy Rider is not a biker movie—sentiments mirrored and expanded upon by Otto Mannix at his site—and try not to sound too pretentious. To reiterate, while fascinating in their own rights, Scorpio Rising, Easy Rider and Electra Glide in Blue are not biker movies.
Although I’ll begrudge The Wild One’s status as a biker movie, with the exception of Lee Marvin, the flick is straight from Snoozeville.
(click image to enlarge)
The New Yorker’s “The Talk of the Town” wanted to talk with me about biker movies—
From the “Devil’s Advocates” item (p.41), written by Amy Clyde, for the issue of November 5, 1990—which means it was published AFTER the festival was over. Obviously, Eustace P. Tilley doesn’t ride a hog. Thanks for the press anyway. And for making me sound really pretentious. Which I probably was anyway.
(click image to enlarge)
We wanna be free! We wanna be free to do what we wanna do. We wanna be free to ride. We wanna be free to ride our machines without being hassled by The Man! ...And we wanna get loaded. And we wanna have a good time. And that's what we are gonna do. We’re gonna have a good time... We’re gonna have a party.
And here’s Dennis Hopper in The Glory Stompers:
With his granny glasses, leather pants and freaky mannerisms, Dennis Hopper (as the leader of the villainous Black Souls MC) saves this movie. When he’s not on-screen, the flick’s energy lags—and director Anthony M. Lanza knows it, throwing in fast cutting, lots of camera movement and loud fuzz guitars to cover up.
Hopper is volcanic, hopped up on whatever, and the actor devours the scenery and offers plenty of Method-inspired improvisations.
Even better is The Glory Stompers soundtrack album which is a power-pop, almost bubblegum delight. Most of the songs on the record are not in the film itself. The record is impossible to find, and I’ve looked.
In the September 27, 1990, Daily News (p. 40), in an article titled, “Let the biker beware,” movie columnist Phantom of the Movies (also known as Joe Kane of Videoscope and The Monster Times (is that on-line yet?)), wrote, “While some obvious titles (e.g. ‘Easy Rider’) and interesting obscurities (‘Northville Cemetery Massacre’) are absent from the fest, curator Ivan Lerner has assembled a strong, representative set of retro biker movies.”
And I do regret not scheduling Northville Cemetery Massacre in Chrome, Scum & Celluloid.
Northville Cemetery Massacre is worth a look for fans of either biker movies and/or sleazy, gritty, early-’70s “feel-bad” movies. In this movie, a “good” biker club runs afoul of a corrupt and miserable cop, and things get bad fast. The movie really shows the narrow-mindedness and insularity of small towns and how the piggy squares will even kill ruthlessly to maintain their precious status quo.
Because real bikers were used (the Scorpions MC Detroit), there’s a great documentary feel to the movie (helped by the rough-hewn 16mm cinematography and choppy editing), especially in the cruising/hanging out scenes, with our heroes appropriately scruffy and skuzzy. There’s also plenty of low-budget gunshot wound gore that’s appropriately gross.
But gosh: there’s something distasteful, just not right, about portraying bikers as victims. Since it’s in service of the overwhelming feeling of bleakness that the flick leaves you with, I guess it’s worth it, though.
("Counry"? No wonder The Man never gets it!)
BTW, Terry Gilliam swiped a shot from Northville Cemetery Massacre!
Remember that scene near the end of Brazil: Sam and the girl have escaped, they’ve got their cottage in the countryside, the camera pulls back from their cottage to show more and more of the beautiful countryside—and Michael Palin and the other guy’s faces come into frame, totally messing with your head. (Gilliam reused the shot for 12 Monkeys as well.)
There’s a shot like that in Northville Cemetery Massacre: the main character’s girlfriend is in the hospital after getting beaten by the pigs, and under sedation she imagines herself by a lake with her boyfriend. Then things get odd, and the camera pulls back and the image becomes a close-up of the landscape painting on the wall. And the camera pulls back further; the horrible and mean mug of the girl’s father comes into frame, totally messing with your head.
Okay, maybe Gilliam didn’t swipe this scene, but the similarities are freaky—and give you another reason to check out Northville Cemetery Massacre.
While the UK bike scene was represented at Chrome, Scum & Celluloid by The Leather Boys, I wish we had also scheduled the UK horror-biker flick Psychomania—if anything because it’s more representative and obviously inspired by the motorcycle gang genre.
A nihilistic satanic-toad-worshipping motorcycle gang kill themselves and return from the dead even more mean-spirited and vicious in this entertaining British entry into the biker movie genre that adds some supernatural touches to spice up the mix.
Quality cinematography by occasional James Bond cinematographer Ted Moore, especially during the riding scenes, adds polish the flick would be otherwise lacking, and there’s plenty of mayhem for a while, but then Psychomania (I’m not sure what this title means or has to do with the movie--although it does sound cool) doesn’t end, it just peters out to a lackluster conclusion. Good campy fun for the first hour, though.
Check the swell blog Cavalcade of Perversions for a more in-depth write up of Psychomania here.
A biker horror flick that I’m not regretful about not programming into the festival was Werewolves on Wheels—a boring, confusing movie from beginning to end. I didn’t like it. (Although I do like the font used in the flick’s trailer…)
Cavalcade of Perversions and another good blog (now sadly defunct) Monster Movie Music have their own comments about Werewolves on Wheels (you do have to like the title, though…)
Unfortunately, I don’t think the festival was a financial success: With a few exceptions, like the opening weekender The Wild Angels—and for some reason, later with The Black Angels—a flick that Savage Pencil’s biker movie music record (more on that in a moment) samples a lot from—the Anthology’s auditorium was never sold out during the run of the series. There were some nights that Chrome, Scum & Celluloid was playing to almost empty houses. Sigh….
Most biker movies are indefensible—indefensible not because of anything they show—indefensible because they usually don’t even do sex, gore or mayhem well.
The only thing biker flicks seem to do routinely well is show scenes of gnarled wastoids cruising down the desert highway.
The IDEA of the Biker Flick is better than any biker flicks I’ve seen.
I’m not a motorcycle rider, and have never been, but I have had the opportunity to be in the presence of members of genuine motorcycle clubs: I’m not going to be so gauche as to say that I’ve partied with the Hells Angels, but I was lucky enough to be invited/allowed/tolerated at one of their July 4 block party ages ago.
And there’s a genuine feeling of menace:
A slow realization that no matter how cool I might think I am, it’s zero compared to them.
You realize, shit, I don’t even know how to ride a motorcycle. I’m less than a pussy to these guys.
No movie has ever come close to the feeling of non-existence and potential negation you feel (if you’re not also a member of a motorcycle club or select potentially violent social groups, that is).
Since in the genre we define as “Biker Movie,” there are no perfect movies, and only a handful of good or standout flicks, if you’re curious (yellow) about biker flicks in general—wanted to get a good overhead view as it were—then you need to check out Johnny Legend Presents: Biker Mania!
An excellent collection of trailers, stretching from the late-1940s to the late-1990s, Johnny Legend Presents: Biker Mania! is a must-see for fans of biker movies. There’s no commentary or voice-overs (thankfully), and the trailers are assembled chronologically, so you can sit back and watch the history of biker movies.
(But where are the trailers for The Glory Stompers, Devil’s Angels or Stone Cold? Maybe Johnny Legend is saving them for volume 2.)
I consider myself a fan of biker flicks, and there are movies in this collection I didn’t know existed!
The Biker Mania! DVD is almost encyclopedic, and a valuable resource: many of these flicks are not and will not be coming to DVD ever, so this is it, compadres.
And now that I’ve seen the trailers (which often contain the best bits anyway), in many cases I don’t have to see the movie. Interestingly some of the movies I’ve already seen and didn’t like (Rebel Rousers or Born Losers, for example) actually have trailers that are much more stylish and visually interesting than the flicks themselves.
If you want some SERIOUS critical thought about biker films, check out Ross Fuglsang’s doctoral dissertation on the motorcycle and outlaw biker clubs in American culture.
Doc Fuglsang says practically everything I’ve ever thought about biker movies, so check out his dissertation.
He writes in his introduction:
It is odd that the biker’s cliché image, wrong or right, has changed so little since Hollister in 1947 and Brando’s portrayal of Johnny, the brooding leader of the pack. The attitude and the peaked hat, black leather jacket, heavy boots and denim jeans are staples of biker chic. Not even Japan’s domination of the recreational motorcycle market in the 1970s and 1980s, the “You meet the nicest people on a Honda” sloganeering of the 1960s, ten years of Happy Days and “the Fonz,” or the Harley–Davidson Motor Company’s economic renaissance and its wooing of rich urban bikers (rubbies) have completely dispelled the bad biker image. Despite the many years this country has had to accustom itself to sharing the highway with motorcycles, the distinctive sound of American iron and the sight of tattooed hordes thundering down the interstate can still inspire dread just by appearing in the rearview mirror.
But it’s Dr. Fuglsang’s Chapter Six, “The Demands of Popularity,” that should interest us the most. It’s a fantastically well-researched paper, a page-turner, exhaustively researched.
Here’s a pointed bit, featuring some quotes from one of my favorite directors, John Milius (who listed “Biker Movies” among his “guilty pleasures” in the May/June 1982 issue of Film Comment—I remember some of Milius’ other guilty pleasures including The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the very weird Gary Cooper flick, Return to Paradise).
[Hey, can anyone get me a copy of Milius’ article? Pleeeeeeeeeeze?]
The films, director John Milius notes, “have a rich tradition of social irresponsibility. I mean, these films should make you feel guilty.”
The bikers’ appeal, he adds, was that they were free: “They are outside your life, your law. They don’t share your morality, ethics, your humanity, or your conscience. They are free of all that shit.”
For a few years at least the genre presented a viable representation of social conflict. What followed the biker film’s early popularity, however, was a backlash, a perversion of the genre and its conventions so that later films became less like the Westerns and more akin to gangster films.
The genre exploited the audience’s willingness to see potential good in disreputable outcasts who gravitated to gangs.
After 1971, however, the image was less popular and the audience more resistant to the idea of sympathetic bikers. Genres depend on common ground, a coincidence of popularity and ideology.
When people saw the Hell’s Angels stomping and stabbing Meredith Hunter at Altamont, audience sympathy evaporated. In an increasingly conservative decade, bikers became a true force for anarchy, one that could not be allowed in a civilized society.
Milius describes them as “mutant, ursine predators, spawned by some hideous breach of social ecology, and they soon joined the ranks of irredeemable screen sociopaths, the way Indians used to be portrayed and Nazis still are.” A romantic image of charismatic but confused outlaws was no longer possible.
Here’s another take on biker movie Gotterdammerung:
"Several factors led to the demise of the biker genre. Altamont, billed as the ‘Woodstock of the West,’ turned into a series of bloody confrontations between former allies the hippies and Hell’s Angels. The federal helmet law (since repealed) took much of the joy out of motorcycle riding for many bikers, although most gang members tried to compensate by wearing helmets shaped like those used in Nazi Germany. Gas prices drove the highway speed limits down to 55, making a true rip-roaring highway run a thing of the past. Several states passed laws aimed against choppers. Size limitations on forks, handlebars and wheels—plus countless other nit-picking details—kept some beautiful machines off the road for good. Finally, the genre simply did not offer enough variety to sustain the public’s interest, and the biker film, like the motorcycles gangs they helped promote, quietly dropped from view."
--from an article by Jim Morton from Incredibly Strange Films, 1986, ReSearch Press)
An aside: Did Meredith Hunter have a gun? It doesn’t matter: the resulting anti-Angel media frenzy and then Gimme Shelter (excellent film, BTW) were more nails in the coffin.
And then there are the soundtracks to biker movies…Once again, others are more eloquent than I…
For cartoonist Savage Pencil’s collection, titled, “Savage Pencil presents Angel Dust - Music For Movie Bikers," and released by Further/Blast First in 1988—part of a series, I believe, that also included Robert Williams producing a collection of hot rod music—musician Steve Albini provided an almost poetic introduction:
There are two main things:
II Engineer Boots
Speed is the great persuader. It turns up the volume and color and makes all this half-assed dimwit lowbrow camp bullshit come true, in some throbbing resonant way. Washed out cheap color footage turns fluorescent. Idiot mumbling and full-tilt cliché jive spew suddenly sounds like Scary real Brother Lingo. Flap-titted, lard-assed suburban drama school dropouts turn into mindblown free-love biker mamas. Those thighs - every bumpy, cheese-curd-textured one of them - even now they sing to me. They sigh, ''Steve, come frolic! Frolic aplenty! Come to our gang bangs! Ride with our righteous bro's! Drink beer! Rub mud on us! Get beat up and thrown in jail by unrighteous pigs! Straddle a chopped hog with a pair of us behind you!'' They sing, and we want to listen. Me, Jack and Crank. We live for their song.
Biker gear just plain looks great. Big boots with ass-kicker toes, big leather straps and chrome cock rings. Those pointedy-ass Jack Cassidy ones too. Pre-homo hankie code bandanas: Stylin', totally stylin'. See, it's not like real bikers. Real bikers were always so...icky. They used foul language, had long hair, stank, sweated and spat. Not so in the movies. Nobody in the movies ever skullfucks the old lady of a rival one-percenter. Nobody in the movies ever earns his red wings and bathes in his bro's beer pee. No brothers ever slip tongue on the screen. Movie bikers are misunderstood but kind-hearted. Movie bikers are like E.T., funny looking but easy to love.
But hey, all this showbiz is bullshit anyway, so why worry. Does it really matter that a sadistic speedfreak anthem like ''Come To Satan'' was actually written by a failed jinglesmith of some 50 years? Of course not. Does it matter that many metric bargeloads of fuzz and wah were played by bearded session hacks? Nah. Even if they were sitting down? Not even if they were sitting down. If you think about it, it's all very much the same as a pack of grubby vegetarians singing about lipstick and bunnies, or a bunch of well-heeled homosexuals shaking booty to egocentric urban ethnic blabbing. You listen to this pointless schtick and get a few yucks - you're money up on the deal. If you do mental gymnastics trying to sift some social or historical significance out of a patently empty genre like Angel/biker-movie incidental music, then you, bud, are deep in some shit. Stankety-ass shit. Spread it on a cracker and shoot up.
[then Albini signs off with:]
Say Yo! to drugs
Son of a motorcycle racer, brother of a motorcycle racer,
veteran of two motorcycle accidents
One with lawsuit
Born MEAN: visiting Satan's Sadists
While I love The Wild Angels, and think it’s the best of the 1966-1974 biker movies, my favorite is Al Adamson’s Satan’s Sadists: a sick, sick movie—and totally awesome.
Better biker flicks, like Hell’s Angels ’69, tend to be hybrids, and so is Satan’s Sadists: bikers playing The Most Dangerous Game, essentially, but tweaked with the added bonus of latching on to the Charles Manson fear sweeping the nation at the time.
Check out the graphics from the flick’s trailer: Totally hopping on the Tate-LaBianca Murders.
Satan’s Sadists could be said to be a dumb movie, but it’s so mean-spirited and fast-paced (reportedly shot in one week), full of violence and awful behavior, that I love it.
After a creepy rape-and-murder, the flick’s animated (!) credits begin, accompanied by the Nightriders’ fab theme song (“I was born mean/ By the time/ I was two/ They were callin’ me/ Callin’ me Satan/ Woooah-oh!”), and the viewer is plunged into a vile Southwestern mental landscape full of rampant brutality akin to Peckinpah’s Mexico. Yes, I think Satan’s Sadists would be a great double-feature with Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia.
For more about Satan’s Sadist’s soundtrack, go here.
The flick isn’t too quotable, but lead Russ Tamblyn, looking a tad out of it, has a great speech that he gives to a retired cop—before shooting the guy’s wife and then the cop right between the eyes:
You’re right, cop. You’re right, I am a rotten bastard. I admit it. But I tell ya something. Even though I got a lot of hate inside, I got some friends who ain’t got hate inside. They’re filled with nothing but love. Their only crime is growing their hair long, smoking a little grass and getting high, looking at the stars at night, writing poetry in the sand. And what do you do? You bust down their doors, man. Dumb-ass cop. You bust down their doors and you bust down their heads. You put ‘em behind bars. And you know something funny? They forgive you. I don't.
Director Al Adamson himself was unfortunately later murdered under brutal and mysterious circumstances.
Biker Movie Quote Quiz—Which flicks are these quotes from? Some are also the tag lines from respective movies’ posters. Leave your answers in the comments section, if you dare...
--All you ever think about is LSD. One of these days you're gonna take a trip and never come back.
--Yeah? You really think so? Groovy!
I've decided we're gonna split from this pad. We're gonna pick up our old ladies and whatever little we have, and we're gonna put on our colors, and we're gonna roll! And neither man nor beast is gonna stop us until we find a place we can blow our own peace, and we're gonna love each other.
I just blessed you, my dear child, with my golden shower!
THIS IS THE SLAUGHTERHOUSE RUN THAT YOU MAKE ALONE...when you've cut yourself off from the Pack to go flat out against the Freaks and the Straights who rule this cozy corner of HELL!
They're cycle-psychos! What they want they take...What they don't, they take apart!
Hunting down their prey with a quarter-ton of hot steel between their legs!
If you're hairy, you belong on a motorbike!
Cyclemaniacs Assaulting and Killing for Thrills! Bike Riding Hoodlums Flat-Out on Their Murder Cycles.
9 (this one really isn’t from a biker movie, but genre geeks should get it)
I am the Nightrider. I'm a fuel injected suicide machine. I am the rocker, I am the roller, I am the out-of-controller!
Motorcycle Maniacs on Wheels
End quiz—put down your pencils!
1990, and Beyond:
Three Post-Biker Biker Flicks
Since about 1990, there have been several movies, usually undercover cop flicks, which extensively explore the world of motorcycle gangs in lurid detail. Not that it doesn’t feel as much of a fantasy as any '70s biker flick, but there’s a bigger budget, a supporting cast and extras that actually look the part, and the ability to show more violence and boobs.
Here are three recent examples—once again, it’s the flicks which are hybrids that are better.
Stone Cold (1991)
If it weren’t for the ultra-violence, nudity, and the performances of Lance Henriksen and William Forsythe, Stone Cold would be a lousy movie. As is, The Boz is over-the-top enough not to be taken too seriously, and when the flick has a scene that sucks (like most of Sam McMurray’s unfunny appearances), they are usually over with quick enough—and usually immediately followed by another awesome moment from either Forsythe or Lance, or at least a good killing or car crash.
So the flick is a worthy cult movie because it has a great average!
Stone Cold is also highly quotable:
This reminds me of my father's last words: "Don't son, that gun is loaded!"
Imagine the future, Chains, 'cause you're not in it.
The devil was a rebel angel. If you want to fuck with the living, you'll have to learn to fuck with the dead!
I’m gonna skin you with a knife dipped in shit!
But imagine the Biker Movie Nirvana that could have been achieved if Danny Trejo or William Smith had been cast in The Boz’s role? If that had happened, you wouldn’t even have to change the dialog: coming out of either Smith or Trejo’s mouths, it would sound more magnificent. However, Stone Cold is still a perfect six-pack flick, and part of my home collection.
I’ve yelped about the incredible William Smith before, and while never appearing in a super-memorable biker movie, he was in enough of them that he exists in my mind as the ultimate cinematic biker.
Hell Ride (2008)
I can appreciate what writer-director-actor Larry Bishop (son of Joey, and vet of several late-1960s biker flicks, as well as the 1968 hippie-fascism cult movie Wild in the Streets) is trying to do with this tribute to biker movies. But I think Hell Ride tries too hard and gets too heavy with its Tarantino-esque dialog.
For me, the first half of this movie spends too much time on Larry Bishop’s porn movie fantasies. Despite the delightful excess of boobies, Hell Ride just isn’t sleazy enough; the movie feels more like a beer commercial: it isn’t raw or brutal enough—but I’m comparing it to Satan’s Sadists, which perhaps isn’t fair.
But actors Vinnie Jones, Dennis Hopper, David Carradine and especially Michael Madsen are all good, but never in the flick long enough. But it is obvious that this movie is a labor of love, and worth a look by biker movie aficionados, even if just to have an opinion. (However, the DVD supplemental feature on the Hell Ride’s motorcycles is a great for gearheads.)
According to Roger Ebert, “Bishop starred in a motorcycle movie named The Savage Seven in 1968, which was, let's see, 40 years ago. He was also in The Devil's 8, Angels Unchained and Chrome and Hot Leather. It's a wonder he doesn't have a handicapped placard for his hog.”
Pretty funny, Roger, but the flick is called Angel Unchained, dig?
Beyond the Law (1992)
Despite its boringly generic title, this flick has a certain B-movie charm, combining the undercover cop and biker movie genres. When the movie isn’t focused on bikes (it has some great footage of some hogs on a run), bikers (Michael Madsen is tops as an unrepentant gang leader, and all the extras look right), police procedural stuff, or the very hot Linda Fiorentino (who makes a lot out of an underwritten part), the flick is lame and can be fast-forwarded through.
The main problem is that lead Charlie Sheen only gets superficially nasty and crazy. Meanwhile, the movie routinely gets bogged down with a bunch of psychological mumbo-jumbo from Sheen’s character, but at least that usually leads to some scenes of violence. All in all, Beyond the Law is recommended if there’s nothing else on TV and a six-pack is waiting for you to drink it.
Y’know what? That biker TV show, Sons of Anarchy, looks pretty good. It’s not out on DVD yet—they’ll probably release season one when FOX-TV is getting ready to start airing the second season. But I need to check it out: the idea of bolting the biker movie genre to Hamlet on a weekly television show sounds intriguing….
So there it is—and I’ve hardly touched half of these flicks. Now it’s your turn.