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  Werewolves on Wheels Antichrist On A Bike
Year: 1971
Director: Michel Levesque
Stars: Stephen Oliver, D.J. Anderson, Gene Shane, Billy Gray, Gray Johnson, Barry McGuire, Owen Orr, Anna Lynn Brown, Leonard Rogel, Severn Darden
Genre: Horror, ActionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: A biker gang led by Adam (Stephen Oliver) spends its time roaming the desert highways and getting into scrapes, but nothing serious has ever really happened to them. Take today, when they pull up at a diner and victimise an innocent driver, beating him up and leaving him practically unconscious, then go into the establishment to get something to eat. While they are there, the most spiritual member of their number, Tarot (Gene Shane), whips out his tarot cards and begins to consult them as his fellow bikers get up to hijinks. Adam and Helen (D.J. Anderson) ask him what he sees, but the news is not good...

That's right, they're all going to turn into werewolves, just as the title promises! Think of it - a whole legion of wolfman Hell's Angels, what could be a cooler image than that? This is going to be the best biker movie ever! Oh, wait a minute, that title is somewhast misleading, as you will discover if you make it to the end, which has given this film something of a poor reputation over the years, more famous for that title than any inherent quality in the material. If the gang depicted had been cursed in the first five minutes and spent the next seventy-five marauding around the countryside in full hairy get up, then, and only then, would most viewers have been satisfied.

But it doesn't play out that way, as this in fact owes more to the Satanist genre of horror movies that emerged after Rosemary's Baby became the hit it was, and what director Michel Levesque (either best known for this or minor exploitation favourite Sweet Sugar) with his co-writer David M. Kaufman did was cross that style of chiller with The Wild Angels. With Easy Rider still making waves and eclipsing that Roger Corman biker benchmark, you might have expected the makers of this to take its lead more than the earlier effort, but this was not the case, which happened with a surprising amount of biker movies of the era where they were big news at the drive-ins of the world.

So if Werewolves on Wheels is so badly thought of, why do some of those who catch it feel that, hey, maybe this is not so bad? It's obviously no masterpiece, but its meandering, where the day takes you mood and plotting is something that a select few fans of this kind of movie respond to. Certainly it doesn't break out the werewolves until the final couple of minutes - although they do make their presence felt earlier on, we just don't see them except for the rare shadow, but there is a cult of devil-worshippers here, led by Severn Darden who apparently asked to be filmed in such a manner as to be almost completely unrecognisable (lots of closeups on his mouth and eyes, however).

It is they who place the curse on the gang, who have up until then thought of themselves as the biggest bastards in the land, but have not counted on the unholy power of Beelzebub himself overwhelming them. The hooded cultists drug them then start with the ceremony to, er, do something very evil with them (it's none too clear what they have in mind), but Adam wakes up in time to upset their plans and the lot of them beat up the Satanists and make good their escape. With a notable lack of narrative urgency, the gang then spend the rest of the film acting pretty much as they always have done, although every so often Tarot will mutter some dire warning, and there's always the bloody deaths of a few of the bikers at unknown but savage hands (or paws) to take the shine out of their day. No, it's not very good and even when the werewolves appear it's almost too dark to see what the hell is going on, but you might find this unexpectedly amusing for all its detractors. Not quite the American Psychomania, but nearly. Music by Don Gere.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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