The Wild Angels

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THE WILD ANGELS—junk about trash. With the exception of the torture porn vein of slasher films (Hostel & barf), if there’s a crummier, more useless, catering-to-morons subgenre than the brutal biker exploitation garbage of the late 60s—find it, learn how to use a flamethrower and do the world a favor.

The Karl Rove of Hollywood, crafty producer-director Roger Corman, The Last Man On Earth to leave a bad idea to rot in an abscess, graciously decided that what the already divided country needed in the middle of Vietnam, race riots and generation sundering was a commercial about the ‘freedom’ of the violent, stupid, ugly, drug-running motorcycle gangs of white-trash America.  Corman: “I saw the Hell’s Angels riding free as a modern day cowboy. The chopper was his horse. The locales would be the wide-open spaces of the beaches, the desert, the mountains.”

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We wanna be free! We wanna be free to do what we wanna do. We wanna be free to ride. We wanna be free to ride our machines without being hassled by The Man! … And we wanna get loaded!”

Bingo!  His 1966 investment of $362,000 gunned up an astounding, utterly dismaying (if like, man, you are into, like, civilization, man ) $15,541,000, forming a chancre lesion on spot #19 of the years releases. Some claim a much higher figure–the World is full of idiots, so who knows?

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It re-launched the sputtering career of the Fonda without talent, Peter, (thanks for nothing), showed that hot pop tart Nancy Sinatra could not act if it would bring Jesus to life, and threw survival-meat checks to Bruce Dern, Michael J. Pollard and Diane Ladd.

Charles B. Griffith got credit (if that’s the word) for the cretinous script, but apparently kid-on-the-make Peter Bogdanovich rewrote 3/4 of it, while doing second-unit directing. In this function he was beaten up by the real Hell’s Angels employed as extras, so one good thing came out of it (Dern got clobbered as well).  Nancy’s dad issued a warning that anyone who messed with his daughter would find themselves in trouble—‘one phone call to Rocco, beard, and suddenly you’re wearing cement leathers–capisce’?

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I guess if you’re hard up for bitter, rancid laughs, the 93 minutes of this illogical, reprehensible meanness might do it (Leonard Maltin’s immortal comment: “OK after about 24 beers.”).  With Buck Taylor, Norman Alden, Joan Shawlee, Gayle Hunnicutt and Dick Miller.

Insist on searching this steaming pile of vicious, Nazi-bedecked bile, looking for meaning, for some confluence of sociological-artistic imperatives? For a reason the French critics liked it?  Dig, then, that it is sad but true that, along with beads, peace signs, flower power and Laugh-In, the summers of love brought Manson, billy clubs, My Lai and Bobby Goldsboro. Finding a place to dump among the latter was feces like this and its afterbirth: The Glory Stompers, Hell’s Angels On Wheels, The Savage Seven, and, likedozens more, man….

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