Yes. That’s the answer to the question you were wondering. Yes. There are werewolves. Yes, they ride motorcycles.
And with that out of the way, we can talk about the enormity of this movie and the hundreds of things it also adds besides werewolves riding motorcycles. Because, beyond the obvious, there is so much more to this movie. There’s cultists, gang dynamics, tarot readings, beards (so many, many beards), Satan, existentialism, and frolicking bikers before the darkened days of “no homo”.
People, this is WEREWOLVES ON WHEELS…
A biker gang be biker-ganging. They are a group of friends who love their hogs and live to ride them. They also love to drink beer and hug each other. They’re just living life, man, and those be damned to try to stop them.
They have cool biker names like…”Scarf” and “Movie”. I’m sure it was much more menacing in the 70’s. However, our leader is the stern but patient, Adam (Stephen Oliver in a beard just as luscious as James Brolin in The Amityville Horror). His main “old lady” is Helen (D.J. Anderson), who is basically the biker mom of the group. And then there’s the mysterious (sometimes sexist and bitchy) Tarot…who plays tarot cards. Again, I’m sure that their names were much more menacing back then.
During their biker adventures (mostly just drinking and free love), they happen across a land owned by Satanist cultists…which they decide is the best place to get drunk and have an orgy.
But, alas, it is not.
Soon, a strange trace overcomes Helen and she starts trace-fire-dancing with a large nope-rope, and begins to change into a Satanic werewolf. Soon, bikers are killed off one-by-one in wonderfully 70’s-style slow-mo deaths.
Tarot, ever the psychic, knows that something is wrong and tries to save Adam and the group before it’s too late. But can this wet-blanket go toe-to-toe with Satan himself, or is this band of beer-chugging brothers doomed to eternal damnation?
I will be honest, I saw the cover and immediately thought, “Oh, this is going to be on Manos: The Hands of Fate levels of crap…terrific!”
However, within the first shots, I was pleasantly surprised. The camera-work is actually very well done. The music (albeit being for a biker-exploitation film in the 70’s) was actually good and engaging. The costumes were terrific and while the acting was camp-good, there were a few scenes that felt actually genuine.
I’m going to detail it out in my brain roll segment, but the chemistry between Adam and Tarot mixed well together. Their scenes were the most enjoyable because they came off as the most genuine and expressive. D.J. Anderson did a great job with a lot of trope-y schlock coming her way. She was beautiful and fit into the role perfectly.
There were quite a few shots that were artistically done and diverted from other horror of the time and what was to come. The editing was well-done and kept the pace (with the exception of the “filling up our hogs at the gas station” scene).
So, all in all, this movie both exceeded and also met my expectations (which honestly were a bit low).
Brain Roll Juice:
So much. So, so much to say.
Okay I don’t know if you know this, but sometimes I have a special radar for certain things, especially in cinema (hint: it’s queer-related). Now granted the Hays code in Hollywood was ceremonially axed in 1968, it left a LOT of ripples in its wake, some continuing to this day.
We’ve all heard the shaking of heads and the utterance of “go woke, go broke” whenever a high-budget movie tries to step out of the trope-like binds and doesn’t financially succeed.
Hell, even my good pal, Jim Phoenix brought this up in our review of The Shed. Gay anything in a movie is a risk. Honest LGBTQ+ representation that actually looks queerness in the face and examines it is seen as a high-risk, low-reward venture for studios. Movies that are schlock and exploitation are more acceptable, but it’s still…not exactly welcomed.
So, what’s my pay-off to this massive lead-up? Hear me out.
There’s a lot of chemistry between Adam and Tarot. And while Tarot is kind of a bitchy dude, he’s a likeable character (at least I like him). In fact, if made today, he’d probably be portrayed by a female. He is supportive and even virginal, a Cassandra-type figure trying to save his…very good friend.
And I’m not saying that their relationship is that of a sexual one. The vibes I got from Tarot are even that of an ace, or an aromantic ace. He’s fiercely loyal and emotionally attached to Adam, which seems to be partially if not wholly reciprocated.
Hear me out…Hollywood, sell me the rights to this film for a Del Taco meal, and I’ll re-write and direct. Same characters, but there’s a romantic triangle between Adam, Helen, and Tarot.
Helen senses something’s off, but not exactly what, meanwhile Tarot and Adam get closer, but Helen gets angry because Adam denies (or doesn’t recognize it yet). Helen, wanting to keep Adam close to her, willingly goes to the cult and asks for the power “to destroy anyone who gets in her way”. Of course Satan is a dick and makes her a werewolf.
Now Tarot can sense something (he’s still a psychic like in the original movie) is not quite right and tries to warn Adam about it. Adam thinks he’s just being a dick to Helen and gets defensive, thinking Tarot is trying to push their ambiguous relationship into something he’s not ready for.
Helen begins to kill the others because of stupid shit they say or do, and starts to lose more and more control over her werewolf-ness. It’s scaring her, but she can’t come clean because then Adam might leave her.
It all culminates into a final scene when Adam must choose who to believe – his lying but devastated lover, or Tarot and their confusing feelings. Both take courage to confront, and honesty is the only way he can save them. Will love win or will he doom them all?
I have a few ideas for the ending, but I ain’t gonna spoil it for y’all.
Anyway, Hollywood people, hit me up on Twitter (@brannykj). I got the goods.
Super fun. Super retro. Super beards and biker lingo. A gem of exploitation nostalgia. If that’s your mama jama, then you’ll be all over this flick.(4 / 5)