How much fun are we having? Let’s consult some of Hell Ride’s dialogue: “A goddamn whopper of a chopper opera.” Or this, from a particularly soused motorcyclist (about to jump into a writhing pit of oiled female wrestlers): “Bikes, beer, booty and big bucks! That’s actually five bs!”
Five bs and he forgot boring. Hell Ride continues Grindhouse’s hermetic plunge into the dirtier genres of yesteryear. (Quentin Tarantino is a producer.) Also like Grindhouse, it assumes that the mere sight of men with muscle vehicles accompanied by a retro-twangy soundtrack equals instant euphoria.
Larry Bishop, Hell Ride’s charmless star, director and writer, resembles nothing more than a straining, bug-eyed fossil atop a Harley as he and other caricatures like “the Gent” (Madsen) and “Comanche” (Balfour) tool spaghetti-Western-style into squabbles with other toughs on their bikes. Really, the plot is nonexistent, although it may have something to do with vengeance for an act that happened in 1976, when everything was cool.
They all talk a lot, rhapsodizing endlessly—and you wish a real Hells Angel would come along with a balled-up sock and some gags. Films like Roger Corman’s The Wild Angels understood the power of clean narrative action; why do these secondhand auteurs always forget that? One thing Hell Ride doesn’t forget: tits. (The actors attached to them don’t seem to merit actual roles.) Honestly, this would be cause for celebration—usually the neogrindhousers skimp on the grind—but I think all of this nudity is included out of nervousness: Imagine how hilarious this movie would be without its gay-panic–alleviating babes.