Saturday, January 17, 2009
I like an exploitation flick as much as the next guy. I say, bring on the vulgarity and gratuitous violence. Make it fast paced and cheap. Take out the dull bits and leave in all the flesh, fluids and effluvia you can. Please, please, please titillate, provoke and disgust me, but there's a level of, (dare I say), quality that I expect from my schlock and sometimes even my low standards are not met. The red band trailer for Hell Ride looked like an exploitation fan's wet dream. It was all guns and bikes and chicks with a pinch of drugs, a dash of rock 'n roll and a generous helping of no-redeeming-social-value. In the end though the trailer was more fun than the actual movie. Larry Bishop stole his single scene in Kill Bill Volume 2, as Michael Madsen's fed up boss and then he stole a couple of cast members - Madsen and David Carradine and borrowed Quentin Tarantino's reputation to get this biker picture made. It fits comfortably in to the mold of Tarantino's new wave of grindhouse fair, but it fails to deliver and it's hard to say exactly why. It looks great - (stylishly bad that is), it sounds good, (Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels provide punchy bookends to the film that also uses Neko Case's Blacklisted for a strip-tease - awesome), the actors have demonstrable charisma and the subject matter is salacious - rival biker gangs murder each other over buried money and murky secrets in between lap dances and "American Beer" - hell yeah. But somewhere between the endless flashbacks, lackluster action and Bishop bagging every broad in the southwestern U.S.A., it lost my interest. I didn't care that it didn't make much sense, or rather, I didn't care to make the effort to make it make sense, and I actually enjoyed the really, really bad dialogue - it takes a good writer to write that consistently badly, (ask Jack Pendarvis), and the lines these guys spit out were just awful and non stop, and the actors played it straight and that's commendable. Even the run time was an ADD friendly 80 minutes. I suppose it all came down to timing. The edits were wrong by just that much, the violence was over too quickly to enjoy and the actual biking scenes just kinda eh. With all that it had going for it, I'm tempted to think that these poorly executed elements were purposely bad and if that's the case, dammit that pisses me off. Like I said, I like some good ol' low brow fair, but if you're gonna make the ultimate joke on the audience you'd better earn that right, (Monty Python's Holy Grail, Funny Games, etc.). To deliver on all the superficial levels and drop the ball in the red zone is just unforgivable. The spirit of the thing is broken. I hope my suspicions are way off, I hope it was poorly executed in all sincerity. The genre thrives on sincerity actually - Death Proof was not insincere - you won't find an ironic frame in a Rob Zombie movie, and damn if The Devil's Rejects aint a haunting piece of movieness. Robert Rodriguez winks a lot, but has the guts to deliver the goods where they're truly needed and if he fails, it's honest and he'll probably have another movie or two out next year any way. C'mon Larry, I'll give you another shot, but if it turns out to be just another prick tease... Oh well, now that my appetite for some serious biker fun is whet, (whetted?...whet), I can begin, in earnest, to anticipate Hogdoggin', the biker themed, semi-follow-up to last year's Yellow Medicine from Anthony Neil Smith. All I know is that Billy Laffite is on the road, on the run and ANS is a sick bastard who brings the goods.