Psychotronic Ketchup: Motorcycle Mamas Don't Allow No-- Oh, Maybe They Do...

So, after watching three 70's biker flicks back-to-back-to-back, I am led to one conclusion: bikers, apparently, love gang rape.

Or at the very least, Hollywood thought the type of people who loved to watch biker flicks loved gang rape, and so they used the sordid subject in film after film. One of the problems with surging through the wide variety of films in the Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film is having to watch genres of which I have little interest in viewing. Outside of Easy Rider and The Wild One, I don't really care much for the genre, and outside of one despicable person in particular, neither do the relative handful of people I know that I consider true "bikers". I don't mean my close friends who have taken to the two-wheeled highway, and who are what I would call "motorcycle enthusiasts". Those that I know who have delved even partially into the true biker lifestyle -- and we are talking only specifically here of about four people -- three of them expressed to me how most of what happened in these movies was bullshit, and the fourth one would tell me how it was even crazier and more dangerous in real life -- and he was the only one who loved these movies!

The strangest thing about watching these films in a row is seeing the variants, not so much on the biker film genre, but on the subject of gang rape, pile up on each other in a -- well, a variant orgy. The Cycle Savages from 1969 probably takes the more traditional approach, by using the premise that in order for a chick to become a member of the gang she has to let the guys in the club line up on her. Thankfully, this is only a minor but creepy threatened point late in the film, and the rest of the film is really intent on tripping over itself and falling into a pit of unintentional comedy. The hero, who is most decidedly not a biker, is an artist who spends his time drawing pictures of the local biker gang as they commit various misdeeds. There is much more going on, including a white-slavery subplot, but what it comes down to is this: the leader of the gang, Keeg, portrayed in great "crazy" fashion by the inimitable Bruce Dern, wants to stop the artist from identifying them not by killing him, like they would nearly anyone else that got in their way, but by, in Dern's words, "hurting his hands." "We're gonna hurt his hands!", Dern blurts out after nearly an hour of deliberation on the puzzle, and the way he finally decides to do it is by using a table vise. Of course, they then have to devise a way to get his hands in that vise, and they also don't count on the fact that the artist is an ex-Marine and expert with a katana sword. Every line that drops out of Dern's mouth is precious -- not because the lines are written well or funny, but because Dern puts an ironic twist on everything, and he is funny -- but it can't override such an overall terrible movie, even if I actually did have accidental fun watching it. (And keep your eyes peeled for none other than DJ Casey Kasem as Keeg's equally evil brother. Kasem, along with Mike Curb, executive produced this film, so if anyone can be take some of the blame for sensationalizing biker-gang rape for the moviegoing public, it's the guy who voiced Shaggy on Scooby-Doo and hosted America's Top 40 and another guy who produced The Osmonds, Debby Boone and Christian-oriented music and was the former Lt. Governor of California.)

Angel Unchained takes the gang rape onus away from the bikers, because here, for the most part, they are the heroes. Well, some of the bikers are heroes, mainly the one named Angel (played by a not-bad ex-surfer Don Stroud), who tires of his life of homoerotic leathery brotherhood and decides to really hit the open road. He finds a hippie commune who are more than happy to help him out, but they have problems of their own. They are being tormented by the local cowboys, who have also already given our hero a hard time, and so Angel calls in his biker buddies to come in and teach the hippies to defend their commune Seven Samurai-style. But lest you be led into believing that this film is loaded with scenes of horses facing off against motorcycles, let me drop this into the equation: the cowboys drive dune buggies! Oh, yes, dear readers, this one is precious indeed. So, now you get scenes of bikers and hippies banding together to dig traps into which the dune buggies will crash, and yes, things will go bad when drugs, booze and women are brought into the mix. One of these women, and the object of Angel's eye, is played by a young and rather cute Tyne Daly. What's that you say? Tyne Daly! The rather tough, butch one from Cagney and Lacey? Yup, she used to be cute and here she is not-quite disrobing in a biker film. And there is the aforementioned gang rape scene, in which the ironic twist is that it is the townsfolk, and not the bikers, who are responsible for the crime. At the very least, despite the much-borrowed plot device, the film should be given some points for mixing things up that much, even if they still had to include a gang rape scene.

If you want to mix things up even further, you could look to Angels' Wild Women, released a couple years later in
1972. You could look there, but you really don't want to. This is one where we are supposed to be given a break from the largely male-oriented pillaging and partying of other biker films, and let the girls do all the dirty work. The poster itself boasts: "Hot, hard and mean! Too tough for any man! They'll beat 'em, treat 'em, and eat 'em alive!" This is fine -- I'm all for a little genre cross-casting any day, and one thing that the exploitation film racket is good at is doing reverse spins on tired material -- but this film does not back up what it claims. Oh, sure... the gang rape scene has the girls taking an innocent farm-boy's assumed virginity at gunpoint, and the girls talk tough for a while -- but after about 15 minutes, this one is business as usual. The rest of this horribly acted, written and, well, everything epic from the reliably klutzy hands of Al Adamson (who, I should note, I would rather give the Worst Director of All Time title to rather than the overly-abused Ed Wood) gets its focus back to the boys, and the fact turns out to be that, ultimately, these "independent" ladies need their men to straighten things out for them. These ladies not only count on their men to save the day, but, presumably, will allow them to line up and take a shot at each of the honeys when the weapons are laid down and the partying begins. So much for edgy feminist statements, but what can you expect from the director of Naughty Stewardesses?

You can talk about freedom all you want. I'm hittin' the open road, and riding away from biker films for a while. Don't worry, though, because I'm sure when I return to them again, there will be at least one gang rape scene per film through which I will have to squirm. Sadly...

The Cycle Savages
Director: Bill Brame // 1969 [DVD]
Cinema 4 Rating: 4

Angel Unchained
Director: Lee Madden // 1970 [DVD]
Cinema 4 Rating: 4

Angels' Wild Women
Director: Al Adamson // 1972 [DVD]
Cinema 4 Rating: 2


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