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Hell Ride is a bizarre trip

Posted at 3:47 PM on August 8, 2008 by Euan Kerr

Larry Bishop's "Hell Ride" is a homage to a dessicated film genre of old, the outlaw biker movie.

There are elements, such as the sound track filled with biker movie ballads of the past, which are kind of fun. Bishop, who also stars as well as directs, clearly enjoys the strutting and the whipping off of the sunglasses to reveal his piercing biker eyes.

The trouble is the outlaw biker movie genre is as dried out as the desert roads these bikers ride. Bishops response to the problem is the injection of large amounts of 21st century violence and nudity, but he can't jump-start this Frankenstein's monster.

Bishop plays Pistolero, the president of the Victors biker gang. He's obsessed with the murder of a woman some 32 years before by a rival gang called the 666-ers. Now the 666-ers are moving in on Pistolero's turf and trying to recruit members of the Victors. He can't trust anyone, especially members of his own gang.

But Pistolero has a plan to avenge the murder, wipe out his rivals, and roar up and down the road some more on his bike. He rides around, repeatedly falls in with groups of women who apparently find him irresistible, and just as frequently arranges for people to meet unfortunate ends.

Luckily for Pistolero this all happens in a part of the US where apparently there are no police departments, and it's acceptable to leave bars and sideroads littered with corpses. It's gruesome, and as the story progresses, increasingly illogical and silly.

There are brief moments of lucidity, and with actors such as Dennis Hopper, David Carradine, Michael Madsen, and Vinnie Jones playing roles, the film does have its moments. Hopper even dons the fringed buckskin from "Easy Rider" at one point, which is enough to raise a weird feeling of nostalgia.

Yet Bishop can't sustain tension even with all the guns, knives, and allied weaponry, and his decision to adopt a disjointed Tarantino-esque timeline muddies the narrative to the point where even at 80 minutes the film feels long.

Quentin Tarantino serves as Executive Director on "Hell Ride" but none of his deft handling of B-movie unpleasantness seems to have rubbed off on the film.

And thus "Hell Ride" wobbles off into movie limbo.

August 2008
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