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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Werewolves on Wheels (1971) Biker Werewolves

Werewolves on Wheels (1971) - Biker flicks were big in the late 60's and early 70's and because of that many ideas were quickly thrown together to capture some of the market. Writer/Director Michel Levesque and fellow writer David Kaufman threw together a script and had 16 days to make this low budget attempt to merge the biker film with horror. Levesque does a decent job setting up the biker gang, the Devil's Advocates in the opening credits with the standard tracking shots and the guys goofing off doing tricks on their bikes. Like in the American classic easy rider we have locals hassling them on the road and as the credit ends the bikers get their revenge when the locals in a pickup have to stop at a gas station. The driver is given a good beaten and sent off on his way. It sets the tone that these bikers won't take any shit.
   The group established we waste no time betting into the plot. The driving force of which is that one of the guys in the gang Tarot (Gene Shane), reads Tarot cards and the leader of the gang Adam (Steve Oliver) hassles him about it. He is a nonbeliever and his woman Helen (The lovely Donna Anders) having her cards read makes him a bit pissy.  Tarot is very much a hippie as well a a biker and is off put by the razzing. In response he takes the gang to a temple out near the desert where supposedly things are "heavy". The guys and a few biker Mamas are all drinking beer, rolling around wrestling when a group of monks comes down from the temple bearing bread and wine. Whats a dusty biker to do but partake, and they all get into drinking and eating the gifts from the mute monks. The Speaker for the One a monk babbles for the group of mute monks, We see that the wine was drugged and all the bikers one by one start passing out one by one until the group is in a pile in the courtyard..
  This is a story about evil, the bikers even with their limited toughness on screen think they are as bad as it gets in the world. We see them scaring cows, beating up a cowboy eight against one and hassling a poor little gas station attendant but nothing that makes them look like the killer rapists of some of this genre's worst characters. They roam the desert thinking that they are the bad asses of the world and can't be beat but really they are just guys hanging out thinking they are free. Of course with names like Pill (Billy Gray), Movie, because he always does imitations of movie stars (Gray Johnson), Scarf, and Mouse (Owen Orr) When Tarot leads them to the temple they are up against something beyond their scope. The supernatural beliefs of the satanist are more then they have come up against. After thinking they are the ones in control they find themselves all passed out while the satanists perform a Black Mass.
  Waking from her drugged stupor Helen is entranced into the temple by the chanting monks. There she does one awesome nude snake dance as the monks chant and march about. Is there power to be had through this exercise? Are the monks doing anything more than pretending that they are about to receive some insight form the devil? No pretty much there is a sacrifice of a cat and the chanting but then the bikers wake and break up the whole thing and kick all the monks asses. It seems the monks are looking for a bride for the devil and Helen is the chosen bride of Satan. Or at least that is what they think.
 This starts a trip that is profoundly changes the fate of the bikers. Having broken up the unholy mass they head out on the road but something has changed. There is a pall hanging over the group that just can't be lifted by putting miles between them and the temple. Out into the desert to clear their heads but something is wrong. In the dark as the group parties and unwinds after their ordeal. Shirley and one of the bikers sneak off for a bit of fucking. The night goes wrong though when they are attacked by a werewolf. At around the same time a traumatized Helen runs off into the  brush with Adam in pursuit, there is this whole scene were she bites him in the neck like a vampire, weird shit man. Oh yes did I mention that two people were attacked by not one but two werewolves. Yeah I held that back but in the morning it looks like the two fell off the rocks and broke their necks side by side. A sad start to clearing heads if you ask me. As the trip continues there are more deaths, the whole time  Tarot is warning them that something just is not right. Adam although a fie leader for what it is worth is reluctant to accept it. He thinks Tarot is getting in the heads of the other bikers. Still he has a friendship with tarot and still wants him to just come out of his funk.
  This is not a good movie, some of it is dark shadows of horror and other parts is hippie bikers hanging out. In the end though the these guys who think they are so bad ass believe the only way to break their curse is to head back to the temple and kill some monks. Along the way though is death and destruction. You could say that the are "On the Eve of Destruction" a popular tune sung in real life by Barry McGuire, who plays Scarf in the film. Unfortunately we don't even get to hear that song in this low budget effort. We do get some decent music though from Don Gere which is a mix of country and folk.
Also along the way they stop at this gas station where they are given such a hard time by the guy who owns the place. It was a funny story where the director Michel Levesque tells how the owner was not an actor, he was a local who agreed to be in the film. The scene was completely ab-libbed and is one of the better scenes in the film. Still just deciding to head back to the temple is not as easy as it looks and the group one minute is powering down the road and in the next are buried half way up there wheels  in the dunes of the California desert. It is all so a bad head trip as well as a bad road trip and the tensions come to a head when Adam has had enough of the sour attitude of Tarot. They end up in a big asssed fight is the dirt. When that night both Adam and Helen turn into werewolves all shit hits the fan and the bikers knowing life to be more important than the lives of their leader do what is necessary. The fianl fight is too dark on this poor print but when the werewolves die in flames there is only one thing left to do.
  The bikers are in for one last surprise at the temple and so it ends with the question. Did any of this actually take place. From the time of the temple visit to the return did any of the events actually happen or was it all just some kind of purgatory? Sometimes just because you think that you are the most evil person in the world does not mean you will not run up against something more evil. As much as this was a really poor film I have a like feeling for it. It never takes itself to be a work of art but just a biker horror movie and that is alright with me.

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