Werewolves on Wheels
A motorcycle gang in the California desert get more than they can handle when one of their own becomes a werewolf.
Spoiler Level: Nothing to Spoil.
The popularity of Easy Rider and other counter-culture films of the 60s spawned a slew of motorcycle related movies, so why not one about a motorcycle gang who becomes werewolves? The result is 1971’s Werewolves on Wheels. The storyline is pretty simple, a California motorcycle gang called the Devil’s Advocates is traveling to the desert to indulge in some drug and alcohol fueled debauchery. Along the way they stop on the grounds of a devil worshipping cult church. After being fed drugged food by the monks, the gang’s leader Adam (Steve Oliver) awakes to find his “Old Lady” gone. A few of the gang members raid the church and rescue Helen (Donna Anders credited as D.J. Anderson). Believing that they had saved Helen, the group leaves the grounds and heads into the desert where each night, gang members begin dying at the hands of an unknown animal. Tarot (Gene Shane credited as Duece Berry), the “spiritual leader” of the club, warns his motorcycle brothers that something isn’t right, but his negative comments just creates strife between him and Adam culminating in a final showdown with the beasts amongst their pack.
I was surprised at some of the performances within the film., although most of the characters are stereotypical the acting wasn’t bad. In many scenes actual bikers were filmed just going about their lives as normal, giving a bit of realism to a fantasy horror film. Stephen Oliver’s Adam is a rough and demanding leader with a quick temper. The character of Tarot played by Deuce Barry a.k.a. Gene Shane is a much more nuanced performance with deeper dimension and complexity. The camaraderie between the club’s members is mentioned many times but unfortunately, we don’t really get a chance to feel it before people start dying, leaving their deaths hallow with a lesser connection with the audience muting the emotional impact. The script wasn’t bad, with some nice dialogue between Adam and Tarot in a couple scenes, but the audience could have used more of an explanation of what was happening, and some added exposition could have helped pull the movie onto a different level creating a more cohesive story and ensuring a deeper connection with the audience. The makeup effects aren’t fantastic, but I have seen a lot worse. The music used felt appropriate but was absent from some scenes that could have used some additional noise to emphasize the action. The overall production value was good for a low budget horror film.
Overall, I enjoyed the film and thought the story had potential, but the execution needed some work. There are some strong performances with some nice dialogue between the two male leads. I do feel that the film successfully blends two genres combining an “outlaw biker counterculture” film with a traditional “horror film”, but more could have been done to highlight the horror aspect. The production could have taken additional time creating a creepier atmosphere resulting in a more cohesive and polished movie.
Not a bad film, but could use some work to make it more cohesive and easier to follow.
Werewolves on Wheels: Easy Rider Gets Hairy
- Writing - 7/107/10
- Storyline - 8/108/10
- Acting - 8/108/10
- Music - 8/108/10
- Production - 7/107/10
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