Thursday, July 20, 2017

#2,387. Werewolves on Wheels (1971)

Directed By: Michel Levesque

Starring: Steve Oliver, Donna Anders, Gene Shane

Tag line: "If you're hairy you belong on a motorbike!"

Trivia: A quote from this movie can be heard in the Rob Zombie's song "Sick Bubblegum"

Man, this is one trippy motion picture!

Directed by Michel Levesque (who co-wrote the script with David M, Kaufman), 1971’s Werewolves on Wheels tags along with a biker gang known as the “Devil’s Advocates” as they travel the highways of California, looking for a good time. Their leader is Adam (Stephen Oliver), a free spirit whose girlfriend Helen (D.J. Anderson) rides with him. One of Adam’s closest pals is fellow biker Tarot (Deuce Berry), who got his name because he believes his trusty deck of Tarot cards can help him see into the future. And what he’s seen recently has made him very, very nervous.

The trouble begins when the gang takes a rest on the grounds of a monastery, where the monks, under the watchful eye of their high priest “One” (Severn Darden), worship not God, but Satan. After knocking the bikers out with drugs (which they hid in bread and wine), the monks lure Helen into the bowels of their priory, where, in a trance-like state, she takes part in one of their rituals, dancing (naked) with a snake and eating bread that’s been dipped in cat’s blood. When Adam wakes up and discovers Helen is missing, he and a few others storm the monastery, rescuing her before the ceremony is completed.

But in the days that follow, Adam, Tarot, Helen, and a few others realize something very strange is going on, a feeling that only intensifies when a handful of their friends are murdered, in violent fashion, during the night. What the gang doesn’t know is that the monks put a curse on them, and now, whenever the moon is full, select members of the Devil’s Advocates become bloodthirsty werewolves!

At the outset, Werewolves on Wheels looks and feels like a typical biker movie; along with the standard shots of the gang flying down the road on their cycles, there’s a scene where the driver of a pickup truck runs one of the Devil’s Advocates off the road, only to be beaten to a pulp when the rest of the gang catches up to him. The moment the action shifts to the monastery, however, the film changes gears and transforms into a bizarre supernatural horror film (the satanic ceremony is shown in detail, and, to be honest, it’s pretty damn cool).

From that point on, Werewolves on Wheels is a combination of the two, blending elements of the biker genre with those of a werewolf movie (complete with jump scares and plenty of blood and gore). Yet what’s truly amazing is how effective this mix is, creating a unique hybrid of action and horror that’s far too entertaining to ignore.

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