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ANGELS HARD AS THEY COME (1971) ***

I have a soft spot in my heart for biker movies.  Even the bad ones are sorta fun to watch (and believe me, I’ve seen plenty of those).  I don’t know what it is about dirty bikers drinking, partying, pissing on each other, racing, and dragging people behind their bikes that appeals to me, but I do enjoy me a good biker flick now and again.  As far as these things go, Angels Hard As They Come is definitely one of the better B grade biker flicks out there.

 

Long John (Scott Glenn) is a biker who wants to kill some time in between drug deals, so he decides to check out this abandoned Wild West town populated by Hell’s Angels and hippies.  There, he meets a cute flower power gal and starts up a sweet courtship with her.  Their bliss is short lived however when the gang of greasy bikers led by “The General” (Charles Dierkop from Silent Night, Deadly Night) rapes and kills her.  The General blames Long John and his compatriots for the crime and they lock them up in the town jail.  After holding court, The General sentences Long John and his buddies to become human polo balls that get beaten up by his motorbike riding brethren.  Finally, one solemn hippie (Gary Busey, in his film debut) says enough is enough and helps Little John fight off the evil bikers.

 

What makes Angels Hard As They Come cool is that it plays more like an old school western than a real biker movie.  The difference being of course, that the cowboys ride around on motorcycles instead of horses and the Indians have been replaced by hippies.  (The ghost town setting is a none-too subtle reference to the genre.)  The western aesthetic may seem out of place but it’s nevertheless effective and helps set the film apart from the rest of the pack.

 

Angels Hard As They Come also has just enough random bits of weirdness in it to make it memorable.  In one part, The General uses his pointy motorcycle helmet to stab a guy in the stomach.  That’s something you don’t see everyday.  I also liked the scene where the one biker guy gets stranded in the desert and is hassled by a rich asshole and his topless girlfriend in a dune buggy.  My favorite part though had to be when The General seems like he’s getting a blowjob but the chick is actually polishing his bike; not his knob.

 

Scott is excellent and his performance is easily the best thing about the film.  Dierkop is also pretty good and makes for a perfectly slimy villain.  And how can you not dig seeing Gary Busey playing against type as a soft spoken ideological hippie?

 

Angels Hard As They Come was released by Roger Corman’s New World Pictures.  It was the first project for future Oscar winner Jonathan Demme, who served as co-writer and producer.  Twenty years later, Demme directed Silence of the Lambs, which also starred Glenn and featured Corman in a cameo role.

 

AKA:  Angels.  AKA:  Angel Warriors.  AKA:  Angels as Hard as They Come.  AKA:  Angels, Hell on Harleys.

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