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|Index||11 reviews in total|
Tom Stern plays a Viet-Nam veteran who comes home with the dream of
forming the most powerful biker gang around. His "wild bunch" consists
of such immortals as Smiley, Nutty Norman, Tiny Tim, and Angry Annie.
Turns out most of the cast are real bikers and their performances steal
the show from the real actors.
Stern however reminds one of a young Nick Adams or Steve McQueen. He doesn't overplay his role; just giving it the sharp edge it needs to be realistic. His anger is a product of his war experiences and his frustrations are those of a man who is powerless to control the events happening around him. For a "minor" film, Stern does an outstanding job. It makes you wonder why this talented actor/director never made it to super-stardom.
I worked with Tom in Angels From Hell. We worked together after the
movie to produce our own biker movie. I had a lot of time and money in
lining up the bikers for him. I got the bikers to really fix up their
scooters 'cuz they were going to be paid well in the upcoming movie.
After everybody had finished their bikes, I had them come together for
Tom's inspection. For arranging all of the bikers, Tom had promised me
a big part in the movie. On my last visit to Tom's office in Hollywood,
he told me that he would contact me when he was ready to film. I waited
until I found out the the HA were filming on location (Hells Angels
69). We rode out to location and talked with Terry The Tramp and Tiny.
Tom had managed to get the real HA to do the picture and left me and my
boys out. plus the HA weren't happy working with him at all.
Tom is a good actor but he is a user/manipulator. Whether this has kept him from going to the top, I don't know.
Tom Stern ("Hell's Angels '69") stars as Mike, a Vietnam veteran who
returns home determined to form his own biker gang and stick it to the
man. He assumes control of his former cronies, who were better behaved
before he came along. He wants to make his gang all-powerful, and their
antics lead to fairly predictable results.
Overall, as directed by Bruce Kessler ("The Gay Deceivers"), "Angels from Hell", which gets a special 'story consultant' credit for famed Angel Sonny Barger, is typical for the genre, with decent action and a cast full of tough guys and sassy, sexy ladies. The music score is most groovy, with a priceless theme song to boot. Perhaps most interesting is that the movie isn't quite as anti-establishment as other entries in this genre, at least in its even handed portrayal of lawman Bingham (played by the late, great actor / director Jack Starrett).
The swaggering Stern does alright in the central role. Among the supporting players are Ted Markland ("Fighting Mad") as Smiley, the enticing Arlene Martel ("Zoltan: Hound of Dracula") as the independent-minded Ginger, Paul Bertoya ("Hot Rods to Hell") as the unstable Norman, Jimmy Murphy ("Mister Roberts") as Tiny Tim, and, in his film debut, wrestler Pepper Martin, famous for his role in "Superman II".
The ending fails to be all that satisfactory, but it does have a feeling of somber inevitability as Mike tries to make the case that the law should protect those of his kind as well as the average citizen. The end credits give the performers an appreciated "curtain call", and the movie does entertain if never really catch fire.
Seven out of 10.
AIP does what it does best, exploitation of stereotypes. Good fun though with the real bikers being used. The real actors aren't as good as them. Incredibly terrible soundtrack.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The only reason I'm giving this bomb a "ten" is because of Ken "Von Dutch" Howards extensive artwork throughout the movie, including the opening credits. Bud Ekins's appearance riding the beautiful Triumph 500 Metisse certainly didn't hurt either! Check out his 2 jumps on that limited suspension bike. Of course you know he also did the jump in The Great escape about 5 years earlier. Anyway, Von Dutch's artwork, a usual, is Krazy! Can anyone imagine what it all would have sold at any recent auctions? Check out the full-sized Harley chopper he painted on the barn! That alone probably would auction of today for 10 grand if it was signed. Most of the artwork probably got lost or destroyed...sad. If anyone knows anything about the artwork in this movie, please contact me at email@example.com I'm a big fan of Dutch & Roth and have an extensive Roth collection. Many books on both. "The Krazy Painters!
Although I'm usually a big fan of drive-in movies, I have to confess that motorcycle gang movies kind of leave me cold. So I might be writing this review with some prejudice, but I think that this particular motorcycle movie will be badly judged by other drive-in movie fans. The biggest problem with it is how slow and uneventful it is. In the first half of the movie, almost nothing of consequence happens. It's almost all padding. There's a bit more plot in the second half of the movie, but the movie still feels slow and lacking bite. Another big problem with the movie is that the main character (played by Tom Stern) is not developed very well; we never quite sense what makes him tick and what motivates him. By the way, while the movie got an "R" rating back in 1968, it's not very explicit by today's standards; it would get a "PG-13" rating at most if submitted to the MPAA today.
Mike (Tom Stern), a biker, returns to California after serving in
Vietnam. He uses his war-hero experience to organize a new, united
super outlaw gang. When one member is shot by police because he killed
a girl at a pot orgy, an all-out cop versus biker war results.
I have no idea why there existed a period in time where all you had to do was throw bikers, hippies and cops in a film and it just wrote itself. This idea spawned some good films (notably "Easy Rider") and plenty of bad ones. And it seems like many of the bad ones were brought to life by American International Pictures.
This is no exception, and unfortunately they did not even manage to cast a single big star. Without the name talent or crew, this is a largely forgettable film from a largely forgettable genre. The most notable name is Von Dutch who designed the titles -- decades before the brand became famous.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Vietnam war veteran Mike (a solid and engaging performance by Tom Stern) returns home and becomes president of the local top biker gang. However, problems with the police ultimately leads to all-out war between the bikers and the cops. Director Bruce Kessler maintains a snappy pace throughout, stages the requisite rough'n'tumble fights with aplomb, and provides a few startling moments of raw violence. The Harley hounds are a quirky and colorful bunch: Ted Markland as the easygoing Smiley, Paul Bertoya as the jolly, yet crazy and dangerous Nutty Norman, Jimmy Murphy as amiable runt Tiny Tim, and Stephen Oliver as the scruffy Speed. Jack Starrett does his customary professional job as pragmatic police captain Bingham, who tries to keep the peace to increasingly minute avail. Fetching brunette Arlene Martel also registers well as sassy and enticing free spirit Ginger. Jerome Wish's compact script offers a nice central theme on how straight society goes out of its way to persecute anybody who's different. Herman Knox's vibrant cinematography gives the picture a pleasing bright look. The get-down groovy soundtrack by Stu Phillips and the cool soundtrack both hit the way funky spot. A fun drive-in romp.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After serving a tour in Vietnam, "Mike" (Tom Stern) returns to his hometown to discover that his old motorcycle gang has essentially been run out of town by the local law enforcement and that a new person named "George" (Jay York) has since taken over as the leader. Not happy that Mike is now muscling in on his gang, George initiates a fight with him which turns out quite bad-for George. As a result Mike becomes the leader and soon gets the attractive girl (Arlene Martel as "Ginger") as well. But rather than be satisfied with what he has, Mike has a grand plan for uniting motorcycle gangs across the country with none other than himself as the overall leader. Needless to say, this idea is fraught with difficulty. Now rather than reveal any more of this movie and risk spoiling it for those who haven't seen it, I will just say that I thought this was one of the better "motorcycle movies" made thus far. I say this because the plot was realistic and the acting was pretty good as well. In any case, I rate this movie as slightly above average and recommend it to all enthusiasts of this particular sub-genre.
In 2015, it's a bit hard to imagine that evil biker flicks were so
popular in the late 1960s. Although the films seem incredibly naive and
silly today, at the time they were box office gold for American
International--a studio specializing in cheap and trashy drive-in fare.
But the films were wildly successful despite their many shortcomings.
Unlike many of the biker films which starred the likes of Joe Naimath or Peter Fonda, this one stars a relative unknown. Tom Stern stars as Mike--a newcomer to town who soon becomes the leader of the Madcaps biker gang after he breaks the leg of their old leader. Now with a taste of power, Mike becomes a bit of a megalomaniac--feeling invincible and drunk with power. So, when his gang goes too far, he does little to reign them in and it's soon war with the local police. And, when 'Nutty' murders a girl, instead of turning this psychopath in, Mike covers up the killing and continues to think he can do pretty much what he wants. What's next for Mike and the out of control and rather stupid gang?
So is this film any good? Well, yes and no. Compared to many other biker films it's a bit better---with a bit more realism and a great ending. But it's also very low-brow and not exactly a must-see film! Not terrible overall despite the title.
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