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  J.C. For Christ's Sake
Year: 1972
Director: William F. McGaha
Stars: William F. McGaha, Hannibal Penney, Joanna Moore, Burr DeBenning, Slim Pickens, Pat Delaney, Judy Frazier, Max Payne, Conrad Peavey, Matthew Garth, Brenda Sutton, Carol Hall, Byron Warner, Bob Corley, Bud Allen, Simone Griffith, Bill Chapman
Genre: Drama, Thriller, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  2 (from 1 vote)
Review: Biker J.C. (William F. McGaha) has returned home to his lady, Kim (Pat Delaney), with some bad news: he did his best, but he just had to quit his job, and he is reluctant to say why, merely repeating that he does not want to talk about it. She does manage to wheedle out of him what the problem was, as he admits he was smoking marijuana on his break at the construction site, and this made him realise this was no place for him as he roared off on his motorcycle, leaving his boss standing in the dust, dumbfounded. But maybe a bigger boss has plans for J.C., someone who resides in the heavens and wants to collect disciples for a day of reckoning...

Yes, a religious biker movie was what you had here, and if that sounded promising, then stop right there, for as a novelty blend of genres this was even less entertaining than Werewolves on Wheels or The Pink Angels. J.C. (dig those initials!) was a regional, non-Hollywood movie, and sometimes that could mean an item that, while on a limited budget, could give free rein to the imaginations of the kind of filmmaker who would not have been able to get a post helming a more prestigious production. After all, much of George A. Romero's output was independent, and Carnival of Souls represented an apex of the format that was to be aspired to.

What was not to be aspired to was this. These days, in the next century to J.C., cameras are everywhere which sees billions of people across the globe capturing their experiences and putting them online. What it does not see is much of interest to anyone but the uploader themselves, and this film was the equivalent of that intensely focused self-indulgence, the danger when you gave someone filming equipment and told them to go away and create a movie. It was hardly alone, but easier to avoid in those far-off days, despite this example getting picked up by a proper distributor and shown in more theatres than one left to fend for itself.

From the synopsis, "biker turns Jesus freak", basically, you might have anticipated at least a degree of camp diversions, but this was merely a warning that simply because someone has a camera, a very boring film is a very real danger of being the result. McGaha was the star, writer and director, and in the opening quarter hour (after which he remembers to run the titles) we got to see him naked on the toilet reading a newspaper (those headlines dismay him, naturally) and rolling around on his bed wearing nothing but a large pair of underpants. There's a reason Hollywood tended to eschew such scenes, and it was not because they were prudes or too conservative, it was more, well, who the hell wants to see that anyway?

McGaha wasn't finished, as a film that lasts one hour forty minutes sees time stretching out to punishing lengths; the more he nattered, the more tedious this grew. Occasionally, this threatened to spark into life, as when J.C. has a vision of a "giant winking eye" which he takes to mean the power of Christ compels him (rather than those drugs were rather strong) and he marshals his disciples to... end up in his hometown where they lounge around and piss off the cops. Said cops led by Slim Pickens and Burr DeBenning, who are most outraged by the fact this biker gang is multiracial, and see to it that the black man of the group is well and truly victimised, allowing McGaha to play the right-on white saviour - though he doesn't even do that very well. It's a dreadful film that has you potentially sympathising with the violent racists, and while this doesn't quite get that bad, you do begin to feel a yen to see the protagonist martyred to end the ennui. This wasn't even McGaha's only film as director, but he had evidently learned nothing on how to render his vanity projects watchable. Music by Paul Jarvis (with hippy rock songs).
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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