Monday, June 22, 2009

Double Feature – Hell Ride / Zombie Strippers

So I popped in to the local video store expecting to find exactly fuck-all; instead, I found gold. While the rentals were pretty much cleared out, the store put out a shitload of previously viewed DVDs and marked them down to $6.99 each. Figuring $7 bucks is a lot cheaper than my usual accumulation or late fees, and I wouldn’t have to waste gas bringing them back, I snagged a couple of flicks that flew under my radar, but deserved a second look. As a result, I had a grindhouse-y good time with a double bill of the sleaziest flicks of 2008 – Hell Ride and Zombie Strippers.

First up – Hell Ride, a nasty little tribute to all those AIP biker flicks of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, executive produced by Quentin Tarantino and directed and written by, and starring Larry Bishop. Who the fuck is Larry Bishop, you ask? Well, Larry was IN a lot of those old biker flicks from way back (although you wouldn’t know it from looking at him – dude is in his 60s and looks younger than Tarantino). Recently, Bishop had a side-splitting cameo in Kill Bill as Michael Madsen’s strip club boss – the “asshole on an elbow” guy.

So how did this guy with a fairly limited resume land such a sweet gig? Turns out Tarantino was a fan, and after meeting through mutual friends, Quentin and Bishop decided to make a biker flick of their own. And with the Tarantino stamp of approval on the project, some pretty big names jumped on board. In addition to Bishop, the film also stars Madsen, the late David Carradine, Dennis Hopper, and Vinnie Jones, among others. The plot is pretty simple. Bad bikers The 666ers, led by Vinnie, wanna take out the not-so-bad bikers the Victors, led by Bishop. At the same time, the Victors are plotting some nasty revenge against the Sixers for a thirty year old murder. But at the end of the day, this film is about two things: boobs and bikes, and this film has plenty of both.

What the film doesn’t have? Great dialogue and a coherent plot for starters. The dialogue was so overblown in this flick, I couldn’t figure out if Bishop was dead serious or taking the piss. With character names like Pistolero, The Gent, Comanche, and The Deuce, there are times Hell Ride bordered on spoof, then there are times where it seemed to take itself way too seriously. I think the problem is highlighted in the special features, where Bishop states that he didn’t care who liked the movie, but if Quentin didn’t like it, they’d have failed. Well, I sure as shit hope Quentin got a big kick out of it, because it was obvious Bishop was writing for him and no one else.

But as unimpressed as I was initially, something strange happened – by the second half of the flick, I found myself liking Hell Ride despite itself. The boobs got bigger, the bikes got louder, and there wound up being a couple of zingers that roused a chuckle out of me. And maybe I’m just a sucker for gloss, but if a movie is filmed well – and Hell Ride was sweet looking indeed – I can forgive its flaws. Also, the film has a pretty cool, Tarantino-esque soundtrack with some wicked little ditties (among them, one from Canada’s own Neko Case!). By the end of the flick, when Bishop, Madsen, and third amigo Eric Belfour ride off into the sunset, I was digging it. If only this film had some better dialogue and a snappier plot, it might have been a worthy addition to the Grindhouse franchise.

Speaking of Grindhouse, its strange how a movie that had been deemed a flop started a trend of new exploitation-inspired films since its release. Among them: last year’s Zombie Strippers, starring Robert Englund and porn queen Jenna Jameson. The plot? Zombie fuckin’ strippers dude. There’s not much else to know other than Englund is the club owner, Jameson the head undead peeler, and the zombies get naked. This flick’s undead horde aren’t your typical mindless corpses but intelligent (well, for strippers anyways) ghouls using their sex appeal to lure patrons to the champagne room for a little lap munching.

The girls were the best part of the movie – they go from bitchy, insecure vapid strippers to bitchy, insecure, vapid undead strippers, making for some wicked zombie catfights. The filmmakers went for the fun factor with this one, making it as over the top as possible. There’s even a Mexican janitor who goes all Poncho Villa on everyone’s ass towards the end.

Still, the film’s bad (and very shrill) acting, cheesy music, and crappy dialogue make it better viewed on a Metal Monday at Filthy’s with the sound off, subtitles on and some Black Label Society banging in the background. Zombie Strippers and Hell Ride are great party flicks… as long as you don’t pay too much attention to them.

Hell Ride 3/5 Zombie Strippers 2 ½/5


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