Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Born Losers (1967)

Director: Tom Laughlin

Starring: Tom Laughlin, Elizabeth James, Jeremy Slate, Jack Starrett, Stuart Lancaster

More info: IMDB


Plot: A malicious motorcycle gang harasses the residents of a small California town, intimidating most residents to not report them to the police. Among the gang's crimes is the rape of four young women. As the gang attempts to threaten the women into not testifying at the indictment hearing, one of the women, Vicki, comes under the protection of Billy Jack, who has also had several altercations with the gang. The gang escalates their pressure on both Vicki and Billy Jack to keep her out of the courtroom.

My Rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again? Yeah!

#27 on Dusk to Dawn Drive-In Trash-o-Rama Show Vol. 1 (part of the TRAILER TRASH PROJECT)

#2 on 42nd Street Forever Vol. 2: The Deuce (part of the TRAILER TRASH PROJECT)

Holy bikershit, Batman! This movie rocks! I remember back in the 80s catching a few minutes of some movie with Billy Jack as the character protecting a group of kids from some thugs. This is not that movie. What I probably caught a glimpse of was the second (of four) Billy Jack films simply titled, BILLY JACK (1971). THE BORN LOSERS is the first movie with that character and boy is it a beaut!

Laughlin plays Billy Jack very laid back and reserved. He's supposed to be half Indian but you wouldn't know it to look at him. The funny thing is is that there are people who upon meeting him call him "injun" and shit like that. How the fuck did they surmise that from his clean-cut-American-youth look? It doesn't matter. The biker gang does a good job with fucking with him and his newfound girl, Vicky (nicely played by the very lovely Elizabeth James).

Vicky needs to have my babies!

Aahahahaha. She runs like a girl...who's having my babies. Ahahahaha.

Billy Jack is a badass but you don't get to see the extent of his badassery until near the end. The bikers, however, are a pretty nasty bunch. Their leader, Danny (Jeremy Slate), is actually a really cool dude except when he starts in with the rape and shit. He has more than a few moments of being a guy you'd like to hang with. I really dug Slate's performance. There are others in the gang that have somewhat likable personalities but not to Danny's extent. Most of them are mischievous 12 year olds stuck in an adult's body.

Slate's the guy on the right...the one wearing the Audrey Hepburn glasses!

There's even a male Jamie Lee Curtis impersonator (who needs to have my babies) a good twenty years before it became popular!

This is Child, one of the gang. He's played by William Wellman Jr. That's right, the famed director, William Wellman's kid!

Here are biker boys in their natural habitat. Please do not feed the bikers, kids!

The guy on the left looks really familiar. Can someone tell me who he is?

I dig the street language of the period, one of the aspects of late sixties/early seventies biker films that appeals to me. Since my teen years I've incorporated a lot of that lingo into my own daily vocabulary. Can you dig it?

"I can dig it!"

Jane Russel no longer needs to have my babies.

TBL is just a few minutes shy of two hours but it doesn't feel like it. Yeah, there are a couple of spots at the 80 minute mark and beyond where you think this is going to wrap up but the extra story to tell is interesting and compelling enough to keep you entertained until the very end. If for no other reason you stick around to see if any of the hotties get topless or if BJ will ever commence ta killin' folks that deserve to die. They don't. He does.

Here's the extent of the skin you get.

There's a LOT of social commentary here - some of it is forced down your throat (but you take it 'cause you like it and it's not painful) but it's packaged in such a way that you accept it as a product of its time. I'm sure the 40+ years that have gone by makes it more laughable. Nevertheless Billy Jack beats the fuck out of a few cats in the end.

Mention needs to be made about the cheesy main theme first heard during the optimistic opening credits. It was laughably bad...but something happened along the way. There's a scene where Billy Jack is playing it on his guitar outside of his camper in the mountains. It sounded beautiful, but when the rock band with horns plays it, it's utterly silly. So what makes it so bad? For starters it's a four bar theme that modulates up a whole step that ends with a bullfighter-esque trumpet fanfare. Then that eight bars is repeated...and repeated...and repeated. It gets old REALLY fast. Funny thing is, by the end of the movie...I dug it. DAMN, YOU, BILLY JACK!

If you can get past the bits of preachy and the cheeseball theme, there's a terrifically fun movie here, although I would have liked more ass kickery and exploitation. With an IMDB rating of a measly 5.7, it certainly deserves better. It is better than that and I'm really looking forward to the sequel, BILLY JACK, as I've heard it's preferred by most over this one and that there's more action. Hopefully it will deliver more exploitation than this one which would have bumped this up to a solid 9/10 in my book.

1 comment:

  1. the guy on the left is Robert Tessier...the reason he "looks" familiar is because he's usually has his head shaved