Friday, 20 January 2012

The Wild Angels (1966)

How corny a Corman’s movie may be, you can go and figure yourself by watching couple of his worst pictures. Did you see "Naked Paradise" (1956), "The Terror" (1963) or "Gas-s-s" (1970)? No? Well, don’t try if you’re not a die-hard fan. As Dennis Hopper said, Corman was never a good director, but he was great to discover talent in other people. At least you cannot go wrong by claiming that to be true as his disciples grew tall with time and their pictures beat Corman’s efforts to death. What can we say then about The Wild Angels (1966), a movie made in fifteen days for $360.000, which grossed about $10.000.000 in the box office? A picture invited to a screening at 27th Venice International Film Festival, which eventually won an award in Cannes? Cheap piece of trash that started a completely new class of B-movie – biker flick, which proved to be the most profitable exploitation genre ever?

Frankly, I have a little problem with all these golden letters as The Wild Angels stands for me as one of the worst movies Corman ever made. It’s supposed to be a gruesome story of a biker gang getting their kicks from violence and torture – as the trailer sings – but divorced from the moral stiffness of the middle 60’s, when it was seen as a strong statement, it comes now as a laughing pot. In a whole movie there are only two moments, which even now might seem interesting. First one is the beginning, when Blues takes his chopper out… while next door mom is chasing her small child on a bicycle frightened for it’s life. And there it goes, we hear frenetic riffs of Blues Theme by Davie Allan & The Arrows while Blues is hitting the highway (to be honest, you need to check the soundtrack better than film)! When he finally gets off his bike, the magic moment ends! Second one is the church bash in the end of the movie, nice mash-up of flying legs and religious blasphemy. Other than that, we watch mainly a cheesy biker melodrama with swastikas and subpar acting… yeah, the acting, I almost forgot!

We definitely have to check the acting and the other work behind the movie. Screenplay written by Chuck Griffith, eventually rewritten by Peter Bogdanovich is a piece of garbage pulp – you can hardly come across so poorly drawned characters in any exploitation movie. It practically abandons any idea of personality at all proposing instead a comic strip Blues character (played by Peter Fonda) and his barbie girlfriend (played by Nancy Sinatra). None of these acting creations are worth longer review – they suck as hell! In fact, the worst comes when we have to see them speaking as Fonda is pretty all right just sitting there and getting tanned. But when he gets to make a speech like the one in the church: We wanna be free to ride, we wanna be free to do our own thing… you feel like caught between a talking dog and door-to-door salesman, which makes it pretty hard to handle.

The Wild Angels is one of these bad AIP exploitation flicks and I’m not making a sales pitch here for the diggers – pure form without a meaning (bravo Roger, you’ve made it again). In fact the only worse biker movies I saw in my life are: "The Hellcats" (1967) and "Rebel Rousers" (1970), can you imagine? Anyway, let’s not argue with the box office as the movie was a storm back then and it made Peter Fonda a star giving him basic concept of the "Easy Rider" as well. However, if you really want to dig into some nice biker matter, go for "Hell’s Belles" (1969), "The Born Losers" (1967) or "The Glory Stompers" (1968) instead of losing your time on this one.