The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum

DEVIL’S ANGELS (1967) **

A member of The Skulls motorcycle gang kills someone in a hit and runs accident. He seeks refuge with gang leader John Cassavetes, who yearns for the good old days. At one time their gang was two hundred members strong. Now they are less than thirty. He decides the gang needs to find a small place they can call their own. They saunter into a small town, not wanting to make a fuss (well, they still steal and stuff, but it’s pretty low key for them). The sheriff (Leo Gordon) tells them they have to leave town, but they can camp out on a nearby beach if they can maintain the peace. A young local girl (Mimsy Farmer) sneaks out to party with them and gets stoned out of her mind. She runs home and says the (mostly) innocent bikers raped her. The locals come after The Skulls and Cassavetes calls in reinforcements in the form of a giant biker gang. They take over the town and put the officials on trial. In the end, the bikers destroy the town while the disillusioned Cassavetes rides off alone.

Devil’s Angels was yet another attempt by producer Roger Corman to cash in on the biker movie craze. The film could’ve worked, but the script (by Charles B. Griffith) is just too muddled for its own good. Cassavetes’ character acts righteous when it comes to the way the townsfolk treat his brothers, but he’s not exactly a paragon of decency. Although he’s a good guy compared to some of his gang members’ behavior, he’s ultimately just as hypocritical as the townsfolk. Because of that, it gives us no one to root for.

The script is also patchy and episodic, although that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The early scenes work the best. I liked the scenes where Cassavetes and his gang break his buddy (Buck Kartalian) out of jail and assault a vacationing couple who have the misfortune of knocking over one of their bikes. Once the action switches over to the town, it becomes increasingly less successful.

Director Daniel (The Dunwich Horror) Haller does a good job at framing all the typical biker shenanigans. The gang parties, ride their hogs, and cause lots of mayhem. It’s just that the whole thing falls apart once Haller tries to inject the clumsy social commentary into the mix. He also has a tendency to let some scenes run on way too long (like the stoned guy’s campfire ghost story). The music is pretty good though. (I dug the theme song, which sounds like a rip-off of “Wipe Out”.)

Tags: biker, d, roger corman

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