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At first gas station attendant Poet is happy when the rockers gang "Hell's Angels" finally accepts him. But he's shocked when he learns how brutal they are - not even murder is a taboo to them. He gets himself in trouble when the leader's girlfriend falls in love with him - and he welcomes her approaches. Written by
Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>
The real president of the Oakland chapter of the Hells Angels is seen in the beginning of the movie and other scenes. He was a consultant for the film. His name was Ralph Barger. Also known as Sonny. See more »
Glass bottle breaks before hitting the biker's head. See more »
This one is shelved in the 'cult' section of my favorite independent video rental shop, and for good reason. It's ludicrous!
Jack Nicholson is 'Poet,' a bad-ass gas-station attendant who gets fired after mouthing off at a customer and then rides off with the Hell's Angels, chasing after a piece of the macho life and a shot at making it with Shill (Sabrina Scharf), who rides bitch behind club chapter president Buddy (Adam Roarke), the king bad-ass of them all.
A confessed example of the B-movie 'exploitation' genre, 'Hell's Angels on Wheels' plays on every possible cliché: chair-smashing barroom brawls, bikers harassing carnival-goers and helpless drivers, cops harassing the bikers, heavy drinking and smoking of the evil weed by the violent Angels, etc. It's all too hilarious to be believed. The acting is adequate--Jack is great as Poet, making the most out of the stilted, silly dialogue, and Adam Roarke, a B-movie leading man if there ever was one, seems to be relishing every bit of his character's corny, macho posturing. Sabrina Schraff as Shill is a tough, sexy leading lady, though her hip outfits and perfectly coiffed bouffant don't much fit the look and style of an actual biker chick, even in 1967. As a matter of fact, the whole gang is a little too clean and well-groomed to resemble actual motorcycle outlaws, and the soundtrack consists of some of the most hilariously bad sixties-era 'muzak' you'll ever hear. Real Angels wouldn't be caught dead listening to such crappy pap.
The film is most interesting for its trivia value: Included are brief appearances by a host of actual Hell's Angels led by Sonny Barger, who to this day remains President of the infamous motorcycle gang. Apparently the Angels traded the use of their name and insignia for a cameo and a mention in the credits (though one wonders if they would have agreed to do so had they seen the film's final cut beforehand). Sabrina Schraff, the main love interest, was a former Playboy Bunny and later appeared in 'Easyrider', which, of course, also featured Jack Nicholson in his breakout role. Schraff, interestingly enough, went on to become a California state senator.
This is a silly little time capsule--a nice example of the sixties-era exploitation flick and a reasonable indicator of the widespread paranoia surrounding the motorcycle gang phenomena popularized in the early sixties. The Angels obviously enjoy being romanticized as fun-loving but fierce rebels against mainstream culture in the tradition of the frontier outlaws of the nineteenth century and the gangsters of the roaring twenties, but trust me, this movie is no history lesson.
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