Saturday, May 25, 2013
FILM REVIEW OF "HELL RIDE" (2008)
"Savage Seven" actor Larry Bishop must have seen "Escape from New York" before he wrote, produced, and directed the R-rated, Dimension Films release "Hell Ride" (*** OUT OF ****) with Quentin Tarantino serving as executive producer. Bishops dresses as if he were channeling Kurt Russell's Snake Plissken from the John Carpenter classic. Bishop plays 'Pistolero,' the president of a notorious motorcycle gang called 'the Victors.' This unsavory synthesis of Spaghetti western and the Biker flick, about outlaw bikers, booze, and booty concerns revenge. A cast of familiar faces, including Michael Madsen, Dennis Hopper, Francesco Quinn, Vinnie Jones, Eric Balfour, and David Carradine, circle each other with gimlet eyed glares when they aren't drooling on delicious dolls, and either shooting or setting folks afire. Most of the action transpires in the desert, at a motel, and at a bar called Dani's Inferno. According to Bishop, "Hell Ride" was shot in twenty days and on a shoe string. Bishop says he based his casting choices on the motorcycle that they straddle and the motorcycle had to look good. Nothing about this low-budget homage to grind-house sagas is anything that most people, other old B-movie fans will, want to suffer through. This amoral
melodrama has its share of moments. Bishop looks like a demented version of Al Pacino. Nudity, violence, and profanity are rampant throughout "Hell Ride."
The opening scene with Bishop flat on his back with an arrow protruding his belly is unforgettable. The suspense of this scene is mitigated somewhat by the appearance of a sexy babe who squats on our hero's face and extracts the arrow. The action shifts then to 32 earlier as some ruffians storm into a motel room, slash a gal's throat while a teenager watches, and then ignites her like a bonfire. Moments later, the scene shifts 32 years later, Billy Wings gives an old grizzled man, St. Louie (Pete Randall), similar treatment. The biker's funeral in the desert with the gang taking a last swig on their beer bottles before they
christen the coffin in an oblong hole carved at of the desert is strikingly stuff. Indeed, everything about "Hell Ride" is over-the-top, with larger-than-life bastards who have no compunction about murder. After our heroes conclude their farewell to their biker friend, then barge into a trailer and mow down four opposing biker gang members. The Gent (Michael Madsen of "Reservoir Dogs") apologizes after the shooting to Pistolero (Larry Bishop) for pulling the trigger one time too many, "My finger got stuck." Pistolero replies, "Next time share a little." Pistolero wields a Smith & Wesson and administers a coup de grace. Not to be outdone, fellow biker Comanche (Eric Balfour of "Skyline') wants trophies. "So I say we cut off their heads, we take'em with us." The Gent disagrees with Comanche while he admires the nude women in an issue of the pornographic magazine "Club," "I say we just take a few pinkies and call it a day." Ultimately, Pistolero rules. "How's about we take their stash, torch the trailer, and get the f%*k out of here?" The next shot depicts Comanche, The Gent, and Pistolero sauntering away from the trailer as it blows up behind them and is engulfed in the flames. If you look closely, you can see that The Gent has the Club magazine in his britches at his crotch as he walks away from the trailer. Mind you, all this mayhem occurs in the first seven minutes of this 84-minute biker flick. What's not to like? At this point, Bishop presents the opening credits. By this time, if you're not grooving on this retro-fitted biker flick, you need to find something that appeals more to your taste.
Chilean actress Leonor Varela shows up for her second scene in a big house with a long porch. Pistolero encounters her after he enters the premises and spots her at a pool table. A scene involving verbal sexual fencing commences with Nada begging Pistolero to have screw her or suffer the damnation of Hell. Pistolero informs her that he is in Hell. What sets her performance apart is Leonor convinced Bishop in this scene as well as the opening gambit that she didn't have to appear naked to look sexy. Leonor proves her point many times over. Pistolero learns from her that the Six-Six-Sixers biker gang, including The Deuce (David Carradine of the "Kill Bill" movies) and Billy Wings (Vinnie Jones of "Swordfish"), are itching for vengeance. Nada elaborates that the whole Deuce business has "something to do with that Cherokee Kisum woman." Eventually, Eddie leads Billy Wings into a shoot-out, and the Gent literally jumps the gun and drills him. Later, Pistolero finishes him off rather painfully. Not only does he shoot Eddie, but he also slits his throat and torches him. The influence of Tarantino is evident when Comanche finds a safe deposit box in the desert, but we never learn what it contains.
The scene when Comanche urinates on Eddie's boots is hilarious. Comanche and his buddies later follow Eddie who straddles a bike with a sidecar. The second encounter between Nada and Pistolero uses fire as a metaphor for their love talk. Later, our hero takes a trip on peyote. This scene leads up to the opening scene when Nada shoves the arrow into Pistolero. For the record, Carradine does show up until almost 44 minutes have elapsed. "Hell Ride" is an atmospheric steel horse opera with quotable dialogue, rugged desert scenery, gritty action, and interesting performances.