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SHE-DEVILS ON WHEELS (1968) ****

“Sex, blood, guts and all men are mothers!”

That’s the motto of The Maneaters, an all female biker gang who like to terrorize small Florida towns. The Maneaters spend their days racing their motorcycles and whoever wins gets first pick on “The Stud Line.” (YES, this is the movie that finally explores the subculture of men whose only reason for living is to line up and be sexually molested by a bunch of nasty biker women!) After doing “the bedtime bugaloo” with their studs, they ride around town on their bikes some more. When one sensitive Maneater picks the same stud from the line once too often, Queenie, (the leader of the pack) forces her to drag her stud from the back of her bike until his face looks like beef jerky.

Halfway through the movie, something of a plot appears as a rival male gang of hot rodders try to tussle with the Maneaters and get their butts whupped. They retaliate by brutalizing the Maneaters’ newest member, and the girls spring into action and decapitate the moustached leader of the male gang. When Queenie leaves some incriminating evidence at the scene, she’s hauled away by the cops, but after the end credits she escapes, yelling into the camera, “We don’t owe nobody nothing and we don’t make no deals! We’re swinging chicks on motors, we’re Maneaters on wheels!”

This movie represents a change of pace for the director, Herschell Gordon Lewis, the man best known for his gore epics Blood Feast and 2000 Maniacs. While the movie is a bit light in the gore department (the decapitated head gag IS spectacular though), this movie has plenty of dirty biker sex though (even if the participants ALL keep their pants on).

Most biker movies released at this time were usually boring or pretentious, but She Devils on Wheels is actually a lot of fun. In the first half of the movie, Lewis shows a documentarian’s eye and is content on just showing us the Maneaters’ day to day routine. We see them hang out, race their bikes, get drunk, and even witness one of their initiation rites. We live with them, we love with them, and really get to know them for the disgusting human beings they are. That’s why when one of them is killed, we really side with the Maneaters and want them to get their gory revenge.

If the script seems authentic, it’s because the screenwriter Louise Downe (who also wrote Blood Feast) actually rode with a biker gang for a while. Downe shows a flair for writing awesomely crass dialogue, my favorite being “Go fumigate yourself, crap head!”

This was one of FIVE movies Lewis made in the 1968. (Suburban Roulette, Alley Tramp, How to Make a Doll, and Just for the Hell of It were the other four.) She Devils on Wheels may not have the same kind of impact that Blood Feast did, but it still one of Lewis’ best movies, not to mention the greatest all female biker movie ever made.

The excellent theme song “Get Off the Road” was also written by Lewis, and was later covered by The Cramps.

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