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Hell Ride (2008)

1 rating: 1.0
A movie directed by Larry Bishop

Actor Larry Bishop, who made his name in the '60s as the star of biker pictures likeThe Savage Seven, revives the genre withHell Ride, a rough and raunchy action-drama produced by indie director and cult film aficionado Quentin Tarantino. Bishop, who … see full wiki

Tags: Movie
Director: Larry Bishop
1 review about Hell Ride (2008)

Bad to the Bone

  • Aug 14, 2008
Kick starting the supposed plot of "Hell Ride" is the murder of a woman. Back in the 1970s, the leader of a biker gang slashed her throat before dowsing her in gasoline and setting her on fire. Watching this scene, I'm wondering why the filmmakers couldn't make up their minds--you can slash her throat or you can burn her, but there's really no need to do both. I'm not one for overkill. The film, on the other hand, is; "Hell Ride" is not so much a story of feuding bikers as it is a series of death scenes, each so brutal, we're too shocked to realize that we're watching nothing of value or skill. Once we finally start paying attention, it becomes painfully obvious that writer, director, and star Larry Bishop wanted to make nothing more than a sleazy exploitation film, something that bursts at the seams with violence and language and nudity. A film isn't worth recommending just because it plays true to its genre. And a genre isn't worth defending if the point is to be ugly and nihilistic.

"Hell Ride" divides its unlikable characters into two categories: the bad guys we're supposed to root for, and the bad guys we're not supposed to root for. The former can be found in a biker gang called the Victors, led by Pistolero (Bishop). For the past thirty-two years, he's been on a mission to track down and destroy everyone involved in the murder of his old lady, Cherokee Kisum (Julia Jones), who met her gruesome end on July 4, 1976, the Bicentennial. He knows who was responsible--the members of Six Six Six, a rival biker gang. Armed with guns, knives, and a mysterious key to a hidden safety deposit box, Pistolero and his posse cruise through the American Southwestern deserts, knowing they're getting closer to the two most important members of Six Six Six: the suspiciously British-sounding Billy Wings (Vinnie Jones) and the head honcho, Deuce (David Carradine).

As you've probably noticed, everyone in this movie is given some clever nicknames, which are no doubt supposed to make us think of the gritty motorcycle films from the 1970s. On the Victors' side, there's The Gent (Michael Madsen), so named because he dons a tuxedo coat and a frilly white shirt instead of a leather jacket. There's also Comanche (Eric Balfour), a young hothead Pistolero believes witnessed Cherokee's murder as a kid. And then there's Eddie Zero, played by Dennis Hopper; this character serves no real purpose other than paying homage to Hopper's early career in motorcycle films. All live by Pistolero's Three B's philosophy: Bikes, Beer, and Booty. The film does pretty much the same thing. In fact, it makes more of an effort in when it comes to the last item on the list; there are enough naked and half-naked women in this movie to start a division of softcore pornography.

One of these women is Nada (Leonor Varela), a part-time information gatherer and full-time nymphomaniac. She walks around like a flirt in a bad adult movie, rubbing, prodding, and caressing her body to Pistolero as she begs him for sex. She somehow manages to make Bishop's B-movie dialogue sound even worse, not helped by the fact that every conversation with her is a litany of sexual innuendos and biker clich├ęs. Example: when Nada subtly suggests that not--ahem--sleeping with her will send Pistolero to hell, Pistolero nonchalantly replies, "Baby, I'm already in hell." Another example: when Pistolero hands Nada a draft of his 666-page novel, the two engage in a lively discussion about fire departments and fire hoses and various body parts burning with desire. I guess it wasn't silly enough that a grimy, murderous biker actually took the time to write a novel, making sure it was exactly 666 pages.

Is this what passes for filmmaking nowadays? Are we actually supposed to take this exploitive piece of trash seriously? This is the kind of film that wouldn't even appeal to diehard fans of blood-soaked B movies; it lacks the campy charm of those old grindhouse standards, relying instead on a plot that makes no sense, violence that doesn't serve the story, and dialogue that would embarrass even the worst pulp fiction writers. I was surprised to see Quentin Tarantino's name attached to this project as the executive producer; even if he does have a place in his heart for schlocky movies, I seriously doubt they were made as badly as "Hell Ride."

And then there's the ending, which is so grotesquely anticlimactic that I wondered whether a reel of film was missing. Not that I would have cared much; I knew this movie was a lost cause less than five minutes into it, during a scene in which a fellow member of the Victors is buried in the desert; each member walk over the open grave, tossing half-finished bottles of beer onto the coffin. A sign of respect, no doubt. It's probably the only shred of respect the film has to offer. "Hell Ride" is unbelievably bad, a vile, poorly written, mean-spirited film that just doesn't know when to quit. And yes, I get that it's supposed to be that way. I get that it's a throwback to the gritty biker films of yesteryear, meant for fans of the genre. The thing is, I don't think even they will like this movie. To really appreciate anything about "Hell Ride," you have to appreciate films made by people with no discernable talent. If you do, then I really feel sorry for you.

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