Brittany Runs a Marathon
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i enjoyed seeing the angels in their natural habitat from a safe distance
Great biker classic!
look past the B-movie production i have to say i liked the plot. it's about 2 thrill-seeking brothers who decide to takedown a vegas casino just for the fun of it - and they pose as bikers and manage to trick some hells angels into aiding them. when the angels find out they want revenge and pursue the brothers on dirt bikes through the harsh neveda desert.
make an updated remake with a good budget and i'd go see this in a theater!
WELL IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE MOVIES EVER DUDES.
Just your average biker flick
For all my drive-in movie love, I've never been much into the biker film. Partially it's because my knowledge of bikers in general comes entirely from an aborted attempt at reading Hunter S. Thompson's "Hell's Angels" and scattered references to the classic Lorenzo Lamas series "Renegade." It also may have something to do with the fact that the actors in biker films are, or at least should be, really grimy right off the bat--I'm a much bigger fan of movies that start with bright-eyed people whose lives get horribly worse as the film goes on rather than starting with the grime from day one. It may also have something to do with the fact that most biker guys are just really ugly. Whatever.
[i]The Mini-Skirt Mob[/i] and [i]Hell's Angels '69[/i] were made only a year apart and even share a star (biker regular Jeremy Slate), but they're as different in tone as [i]The Virgin Spring[/i] is to [i]Last House on the Left[/i]*. [i]The Mini-Skirt Mob[/i] is a low-rent affair that feels like a Corman quickie with easy-to-read good and bad guys and girls, where [i]Hell's Angels '69,[/i] made with the help of the Oakland chapter of the Angels themselves, is an oddly moral-free tale of a couple of brothers that fuck with the wrong people.
The title [i]The Mini-Skirt Mob[/i] promises a group of biker chicks that double as cheerleaders, and the lame theme song (which the credits claim is sung by co-star and former [i]Bad Seed[/i] Patty McCormick, but it sounds really male to me) that sounds at least a decade out of date does little to disprove this theory. We're then introduced to Jeff (Ross Hagen) and his new wife (Ma & Pa Kettle movie kid Sherry Jackson) who are busily trying to spend their honeymoon getting their trailer a-rockin' when Jeff's former biker gang comes a-knockin'.
At first, they just seem to want to congratulate the newlyweds in a more rough-and-tumble style that involves the bride making out a little with Harry Dean Stanton, but Jeff's disgruntled ex Shayne (Diane McBain) has other plans. It's Shayne that seems to be the leader of the title mob, and there seems to be a couple other members, but they don't do much other than giggle, so it's not much of a mob. They do wear mini-skirts, though, so I guess that's something.
Shayne prickteases Lon (Jeremy Slate), another member of the gang nto beating the hell out of Jeff while she catfights with his bride, and when that doesn't pan out, most of the motocycle gang leaves. At this point the film moves out to the desert (most likely Branson Canyon) as Shayne, Lon, Shayne's sister (McCormick), Harry Dean Stanton and a couple assorted miniskirted girls hang around to attack the happy couple in their trailer, [i]Hills Have Eyes[/i]-style.
Don't expect [i]Straw Dogs[/i] here, though, as much of the film is composed of dull spots of people chasing each other around the desert. There's the expected betrayal on the bad guy's side, a neat off-the-cliff motorcycle crash and a couple other entertaining moments, but the whole thing feels like a typical AIP bottom-of-the-marquee filler, like [i]The Day The World Ended[/i] with hogs.
That said, Diane McBain does entertain quite a bit as the lead villainess. The platinum blonde, big-haired McBain has an Erica Gavin-esque presence, and even when the script gives her little of interest to say, she manages to give it her all. She can't carry the film, though, and [i]Hell[/i]es more often than it entertains.
[i]Hell's Angels '69[/i] would have a similar problem--too much filler with little happening--if that filler wasn't so well shot. Sure, there's loads of shots of Harleys riding through the deserted Nevada desert, but there's a certain care on display here to at least make it look good. It helps that most of the riding is done by actual Hell's Angels who know what they're doing, and that the scenery is quite good, but still, some of the shots that consist solely of people riding around border on the majestic.
Jeremy Slate and Tom Stern** play a pair of brothers who ride around the country doing things for kicks. In a plan so bad it could only have been hatched during a bizarre dream had while watching a double feature of [i]Oceans' Eleven[/i] and [i]Easy Rider[/i], They get the brilliant idea to infiltrate the Oakland Hell's Angels in order to go to Las Vegas and rip off Caesar's Palace.
They're not the brightest boys.
Anyway, they meet up with the Angels who agree to let them join up on a temporary basis after helping the pair hold off a yuppie-ish convertable driver. Older brother Chuck (Stern) quickly buys a woman for a pack of cigarettes while younger bro Wes (Slate) gets jealous. The Angels want to head into the wilderness, but the brothers convince them to head to Vegas be explaining that "we ain't usually queer for trees."
The group heads to the ranch owned by the clearly-confused aunt of one of the members, just outside of Sin City. A local sheriff (character vet G.D. Spradlin) warns them against causing trouble, but the rowdiness is genreally kept to a minimum and only seems to be committed against other Angels or people that mess with the Angels.
It's this philosophy, no doubt, that goe the filmmakers to convince Oakland Angels chapter head Ralph "Sonny" Barger to commit to the film. Sure, the Angels get drunk, beat each other up, cause some minor trouble and go off on transgressors to their rules, but they're not portrayed as bad people by any means. They're also clearly not actors--some of the dialogue readings could have been easily taken from "Garth Marenghi's Darkplace."***
The ending reaches for existentialism, but it doesn't quite make it, because while the lead characters are well-defined, they're not exactly compelling. Wes is just a whiny jerk, the love interest is just sort of there, and you can't really get much of a read on where Chuck is coming from, and the Hell's Angels themselves are, for the most part, interchangable.
The involvement of the Angels lends the whole thing an authenticity, but it may have also cost the film some drive-in chops. [i]Hell's Angels '69[/i] is a film that [i]feels[/i] gritty and rugged, but it never manages to get sleazy enough to justify its' credentials, and the violence and sexuality pale next to a lot of the drive-in films of the era. It doesn't feel as horribly dated as [i]Mini-Skirt Mob[/i], but considering how hopelessly out-of-date[i] Mini-Skirt[/i] was, that's faint praise.
Still, it's not all bad by any means. The leads make the best out of their roles, there's lots of beautiful footage of bikes on the countryside, and you get to see Barger just a couple months before leading the infamous Rolling Stones concert at Altamont into a violent frenzy. I suppose the Las Vegas of 1969 is so wildly different from the Vegas of today that it certainly serves as an interesting cultural artifact, but I'm kind of looking for more out my trash films that a couple historical footnotes.
I'm sure there's better biker films out there than [i]Mini-Skirt Mob[/i] and [i]Hell's Angels '69[/i], but these two haven't done much to enamor me to the genre. Anyone have suggestions?
[size=1]* -- This is a gross exaggeration. [/size]
[size=1]** -- Biker movie Tom Stern, not the Tom Stern that teamed with Alex Winter for [i]Freaked [/i]and "The Idiot Box."[/size]
[size=1]*** -- The best show on TV I've just started watching.[/size]