Monday, August 24, 2009

The Wild Angels (1966)

Forget Easy Rider. The Wild Angels are the essential biker-movie. The only biker-movie worth watching. Sure, there's nothing wrong with Easy Rider, but nowdays it's more of a holy grail than an important movie. Where Rider hits the chest, Angels hits the groin. 

During the sixties Roger Corman was the master, and it's when you revisit his old movies that you realise how good he was. A trendsetter and himself a follower of trends, but always with his own personal style. Never afraid of politics, drug-issues, action, social commentary, violence and smart dialogue. He was so much more than an ordinary exploitation-director. It's strange that it's the same guy who directed such slick minor masterpieces as The Secret Invasion and The St. Valentine's Day Massacre, as controversial youth-movies like this one, The Trip and Gas! -Or- It Became Necessary to Destroy the World in Order to Save It. But that's just a proof of his multi-talent.

Cormans movies, especially from this period, always looked much more expensive and slick than other b-movies, and here he also have a stellar cast of character-actors, many of them who got their first big break: Peter Fonda, Bruce Dern, Nancy Sinatra, Diane Ladd, Gayle Hunnicutt and the always weird and great Michael J. Pollard. The story is bascially about Hell's Angels partying, fucking, taking drugs and then mourns (in their own special way) the loss of The Loser (Bruce Dern). It's also an interesting look at a complicated society that desperate trying to be wild and free, but still are caught in their own rules and traditions. The gang comes around like being quite childish sometimes, something that often becomes pure sadism - physical and psychological. 

We're just to everything nowdays, but I'm sure this movie had been quite controversial even today. With swastikas, rapes and the lack of what some people call moral could, I guess, upset some people even today. In the italian nazisplotation-movies the symbols stood for evil, here it's just symbols for "I don't care". Just like the characters of this movie, at least from the beginning. 

The Wild Angels will finally get a release in Sweden, and it's Studio S who gives the honor. A lovely, anamorphic 2.35:1 print to. No extras, but who cares anyway? Great movie, maybe close to a exploitation-masterpiece. For me it's the best biker-movie ever made.


Patrick B said...

I have to see this! Great review. You are a swedish review machine, Fred.

Ninja Dixon said...

Quantity, not quality is my motto! ;)