Hell Ride (2008)

In one of the many featurettes stacked onto the DVD release of Hell Ride, most likely hoping to make up for the feature-length train wreck that is the main film itself, writer/director/producer and star Larry Bishop shares that "if you make a biker movie and your family is still talking to you, you haven't made a biker movie." To Bishop-- a biker B-movie "icon" and star of such decades old films as Chrome, The Savage Seven and Hot Leather-- the proof you've made a successful "biker movie" is when "everybody stops talking to you." While admittedly, sure that may be the case but when we're talking about Hell Ride, it's probably because the film is so bloody awful that people will instantly want to walk in the other direction to disassociate themselves from Bishop any everyone else involved with this Ride through movie-going Hell.

Something tells me he won't exactly be in line for an AFI Lifetime Achievement Award or a spot cozying up to James Lipton on Inside the Actors Studio. And while obviously that's be the the worst reaction for a bad-ass testosterone biker movie, Bishop's assertion that shocking the hell out of everyone means you're successful sounds a lot like the school bully trying to justify why nobody wanted to come to their birthday party. Simply put, maybe he's just a self-important bully himself.

And while I hesitate to call names-- in the same featurette, he justifies the endless parade of naked silicone enhanced skanks delivering lines that sound like they belong in really bad Penthouse letters by comparing one such nude to a Modigliani painting. Yeah, dry that one out and you can fertilize the lawn as they say in Ferris Bueller. No, instead of celebrating the female form, we have cinematographer Scott Kevan filming these women in a way that would even make the horny cameramen from American Bandstand and Girls Gone Wild have second thoughts as they film very young women wrestling in mud, delivering horrid come-ons that sound uninspired (well considering they're uttered to men like Bishop, Michael Madsen, David Carradine, and Dennis Hopper, let's just say they definitely had to be imagining others for motivation), and invite the grisly Bishop in for a group orgy even though their combined age is probably still younger than their director. Generally the "babes of Hell Ride" as another featurette describes them get treated as though they were less than the men's coveted bikes. While the babes are interchangeable, the motorcycles are not for as the back of the box promises, "the women are hot, [and] the bikes are even hotter."

The barely comprehensible plot centers on the All-American idea of revenge as Bishop's character Pistolero (no, I'm not making this up) keeps a more than thirty year old promise to a gunned down woman by seeking bloody justice against the rival gang, The 666ers but any attempt to keep us involved is lost in the ridiculousness of the entire film. Conceived as a vanity project by both Bishop and his huge fan and co-producer Quentin Tarantino to-- as the press release notes-- "make up for the lack of true hardcore biker flicks over the last few decades," when Bishop claims in the same making-of featurette that he didn't care what anyone thought of the film except for Tarantino, we realize that may have been Hell Ride's undoing. Besides, was anyone else aside from Tarantino and Bishop really missing hardcore biker flicks that much? Easy Rider and The Wild One still hold up quite well so why take us down this horrific path of excess and waste?

With dialogue that sounds like recycled Tarantino as a character states "something is rotten in the state of Pistolero" which is a play on Shakespeare's Hamlet that's found its way into other Tarantino scripts and dragging QT's ensemble along for the ride like Madsen (honestly the best thing in the movie as the fancily dressed rider nicknamed "The Gent") and Carradine, it reminded me of airplane food that's been unthawed, warmed up, refrigerated, reheated again and again in a cheap imitation of the original meal. Needless to say it was by riding on the coattails of Tarantino that found Hell Ride included in the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and man, would I have loved to have heard the post-film discussion as critics filed out, no doubt feeling as though they'd just witnessed dental torture.

By paying homage to QT, many have met their creative downfall but even QT would've drawn the line at several of the film's scenes that are so far-fetched, nonsensical and downright annoying that they begin to make even someone such as myself who has enjoyed every one of Tarantino's films (including Death Proof) have second thoughts about the careless way he attaches his name to so many things.

Decision-wise, it's about as smart as his starring in Destiny Turns on the Radio but sadly, I'd rather watch Destiny Turns on the Radio ten times in a row (if it were anywhere to be found) than spend another minute watching Larry Bishop's misogynistic, pretentious, and yawn-inducing garbage that may as well have served as a raunchy combined ad for Viagra and Harley Davidson. Unfortunately, Hell Ride can't even muster up so much as a smile when we see familiar biker faces like Dennis Hopper who (along with Peter Fonda) must have an open-ended invitation to any American film involving motorcycles as evidenced in Wild Hogs which seems like the work of Scorsese next to Bishop's hellishly awful Ride.

Avoid it like the plague and don't worry, Bishop will find the fact that you don't want to speak to him complimentary that he's made a damn good "biker movie" or as he and Quentin Tarantino aspired, "the greatest biker movie of all time." Whatever you say; I'd ask but I'm not talking to either of you... so mission accomplished.

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