Thursday, 8 September 2016

Werewolves on Wheels

Singer songwriter Barry McGuire contemplatin' the eve of destruction in the 1971 film Werewolves on Wheels... I've been seeing enthusiastic word for Psychomania ahead of the forthcoming BFI Blu-Ray, and with that in mind, I grabbed some time last night to revisit Werewolves on Wheels, the only other occult biker pic I can think of in that micro-genre of genres. Howling director Joe Dante didn't have much good to say about the film when he reviewed it for Film Bulletin in the early 70's ("an incoherent, nearly plotless jumble of repulsive cycle-bum viciousness and humorless vulgarity that seems seriously and squarely aimed at imbeciles"), and yet, I remain quite fond of the film, for its wacky premise, fleeting drive-in gore, occasional detours into metaphysical weirdness and some spirited performances - there's one particularly great Godardian moment when the Angels search for one of their missing brethren (nicknamed "Movie") and spend the scene scrambling around a desert landscape which has become a dump for wrecked cars, shouting "Moooovie !"

Watching the film again, my interest was less focused on Barry McGuire (who turned to Christianity after making the film) than that of lead actor Stephen Oliver. Not a particularly distinguished actor - his filmography offers only one other interesting title, Russ Meyer's 1965 biker pic Motorpsycho!, but watching him in Werewolves on Wheels, one could readily imagine him playing Charles Manson, the similarity in looks and voice are quite striking, certainly more convincing than Steve Railsback

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