Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Girls from Thunder Strip (1970)

Director: David L. Hewitt

Writers: Pat Boyette, David L. Hewitt

Composer: Al Quick

Starring: Maray Ayres, William Bonner, Lindsay Crosby, Gary Graver, Casey Kasem, Gary Kent, Bruce Kimball, Jody McCrea, Mick Mehas, Jack Starrett, Lisa Tennelle, Megan Timothy, Randee Lynne Jensen

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Dynamite action... Souped up cars, illegal whiskey, wild women and souped up thrills!

Plot:  A vicious gang of murderous bikers goes up against a trio of beautiful bootlegging sisters.

My rating: 5/10

Will I watch it again? No, y'all.

This is a strange biker/hicksploitation picture.  You've got a vicious biker gang confronting some backwoods moonshiners and their country sheriff.   What starts out as a standard drive-in biker flick mixed with some mis-fire comedy ends up as a no-holds-barred crime actioner but not without its many flaws. 

Casey Kasem mostly does a good job as the  Federal agent sent down to put an end to the 'Syndicate' of moonshiners but he blows it when the performance gets into that silly, over-the-top territory these movies often had with authority figures.  Deputy Orville (Kimball), however, is ridiculously stupid right out of the gate.  Hell, even the sheriff (Starrett), who spends most of the picture as a badass (and Starrett with the best acting in the film) has a moment or two of pure country bumpkin bullshit.  Most of the biker dudes are the only ones that seem consistent in their roles without succumbing to moments of goofiness but even they aren't immune.  Oh, and with a title and subject like this you'd think you'd have at least an ounce or two of nudity.  Nope, nothing.  And here's an interesting piece of trivia, it was shot on the Spahn ranch at the time Charles Manson and his followers were there.

One thing I liked about this picture is that the bikers are hardcore killers and all around bad dudes even though there's only one kill at their hands.  The rest are from the sheriff exacting justice and revenge as he hunts them down.  And there's another problem, the action is weak and the last reel or two is one long chase which has little, if any, excitement.  The pseudo, run of the mill bluegrass soundtrack behind it all doesn't help it.  It has the opposite effect because it's so generic and it feels like they just grabbed some tracks and thoughtlessly placed them over the action because it needed it, only it needed music written specifically for it to elevate it.  Despite some good performances, it doesn't make it and the strange abrupt ending brings this somewhat short (79 minutes) film to a close.  It pains me to see films like this that have potential and drop the ball enough times that it all but ruins the film.  If they could see all of the positives that were already there and gave it that extra mile to make THAT picture, a gritty and serious action film, they could have had one of the best low budget drive-in movies of that time.  Instead it's just one missed opportunity after another. 

No comments:

Post a Comment