Sunday, April 20, 2014
One night I was in the mood for an Outlaw Biker Film and while searching through youtube I found an obscure, out of print film called Devil Rider and decided to give it a try. If you wonder why it's showing up here on Gonna Put Me In The Movies, well we'll get to that in just a bit. Devil Rider turned out to be much worse than even I expected it to be....but it was that kind of bad movie that's so bad you start enjoying it the more you watch. The acting in Devil Rider ranged from "look ma, I'm saying stuff and I'm in a movie" to community theater level to a few people who could "actually act". The poster above makes this film look 100 per cent better than it really was.
The basic story is about a young girl whose boyfriend is too busy giving karate lessons to pay attention to her. On her own and in a fit of boredom she joins up with a biker gang. When she doesn't show back up at home, her parents hire a private detective to track her down. The detective is so inept that he "thinks" he is disguising himself as a fellow biker and tries to infiltrate the gang. His disguise is SO BAD (like something you rambled through a closet and put together) that he is immediately found out and has to be rescued by the karate boyfriend when he comes for "his woman". The real highlight of the film is the karate boyfriend, who looks and acts like he's Napoleon Dynamite, and when I think about it, Devil Rider could have been a prequel to that movie. The private detective (seen above in his "disguise") could even be Pedro's father.
Now, getting to why Devil Rider is showing up on this blog. The film opens with a nice psych instrumental, "The Wind", played by Heroes of Cranberry Farm (I swear I'm not making that name up) who are playing in, what I assume, is a city park (this same location appears to be where the bikers hang out and where a majority of the action takes place). The Heroes of Cranberry Farm, in an earlier incarnation, were a Florida garage band known as The Squiremen (IV). There's some great photos and other interesting information about this group at the following link: The Limestone Lounge. If you can't tolerate really bad movies, the best thing is, you can catch the first few minutes of Devil Rider and see the Heroes of Cranberry Farm without having to watch any more of the movie. If you like a really bad movie, then this film will be right up your alley.
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Speedway was Elvis' third appearance as a race car driver having previously had the same profession in Viva Las Vegas as Grand Prix driver Lucky Jackson, and in Spinout he played Mike Mcoy, part time race car driver and part time musician. While Viva Las Vegas is one of Elvis' best films, Speedway ranks more toward the bottom of Elvis' cinema output. The plot, which I know isn't the prime reason they made movies starring Elvis, concerns Elvis' business manager, Bill Bixby, misusing Elvis's funds until they get audited by the IRS. It seems Elvis owes Uncle Sam $150,000. Nancy Sinatra is an IRS agent assigned to Elvis's case to recoup the funds he owes.....need I say that a love interest blooms between the two? Oh yeah, there's some kind of subplot about a homeless guy with kids which is never fully developed, but allows the movie to include some cute little girls.
I guess the idea of using Nancy Sinatra as Elvis' love interest in Speedway would be equal to Ann-Margret in Viva Las Vegas. The problem is there wasn't much chemistry between Nancy and Elvis, plus Nancy just wasn't as talented in the singing and acting departments as Ann-Margret. I'm not trying to take anything away from Nancy, she definitely had some onscreen sex appeal and definitely could rock a pair of white go-go boots, but her acting wasn't even as good as Elvis' and that's a feat hard to accomplish. Even though her performance was good, the one song she was given to sing solo, "Your Groovy Self" , written by her long time collaborator Lee Hazlewood, had a great title, but unfortunately terrible lyrics.
Quentin Tarantino had his design team for Pulp Fiction view Speedway and the results can be seen in that film. The club Elvis hangs out in, cleverly called The Hangout (bet that took a lot of time to think up) features car bodies for booths. In the Jack Rabbit Slims club scene in Pulp Fiction, a similar type of car booth was used. No dance contest at The Hangout, as in Pulp Fiction, but when the owner shines a spotlight on someone, they have to perform for the rest of the club. This, of course, made it easy to include a couple of more songs in the film. A couple of songs in Speedway turned out to be pretty good, especially "Let Yourself Go" and the finale "There Ain't Nothing Like A Song", plus I enjoyed the "full on" Broadway musical performance of "He's Your Uncle, Not Your Dad". When all is said and done, Speedway delivered what is was supposed to....Elvis singing some songs wrapped around a light plot. It just didn't do it as well as some of his other movies.
Sunday, April 6, 2014
A motorcycle gang, The Savage Seven, invade an Indian shanty town and at different points in the film the Indians and the Cycle Gang are either friends with each other or they're fighting each other. When one of the company store employees rapes and kills an Indian girl the blame is put on the Savage Seven. This starts an all out fight with the Savage Seven, where they take the place of the Indians attacking from above (as seen in so many Western films) and the Indians are those holed up in a "fort", or in this case the shanty town. This is when The Savage Seven finally gets in the groove with a fifteen minute fight, where the stunt director must have been told to pull out all he's got, since there are people falling off buildings, crashing bikes, running cycles through cardboard boxes, a person catches on fire, knife fights, guns shooting, dynamite exploding and probably some other things I've forgotten about.
The Savage Seven was a co-production between American International Pictures and Dick Clark Productions. It's an entry in the outlaw biker films, which were primarily made from the mid 1960s through the early 1970's. Although, Quentin Tarantino lists the movie as #19 on his top 20 Grindhouse Films, I found it to be only mildly entertaining with most of the fun coming at the very last of the movie when the big fight occurs. Robert Walker Jr. is painfully miscast in The Savage Seven as the leader of the Indians. It's never explained why this white boy looks so different from his brethren, except once when he's called Johnny Blue-Eyes. Also, of slight interest, this movie marked the debut of Penny Marshall as one of the waitresses who's really into the motorcycle gang members.
Most likely due to Dick Clark being involved, Duane Eddy (a close friend of Clark's) was given a part in the film as Eddie, one of the motorcycle gang members. I'm assuming that Eddy decided to "talk tough" when delivering his lines, but unfortunately this caused some of his words to be almost intelligible. Eddy is sometimes hard to pick out when watching the film, but if you want to spot him, he's the one wearing the Rebel cap (sort of like the ones you buy at tourist shops in the Great Smoky Mountains). Strangely, there are no Duane Eddy instrumentals on the soundtrack; however, the soundtrack does contain one song by Cream and two songs by Iron Butterfly. I personally found this movie mediocre in the field of biker films, but others may be much more enthralled than I was.