Werewolves on Wheels (1971) | This leather-clad terror flick is a howler!
Werewolves on Wheels revs into action on The Horror Channel tonight at 10.50pm (Sky 319/320, Virgin 149/202, Freesat 138/139)
If you’re hairy you belong on a motorbike!
The Devil’s Advocates, an outlaw gang of Harley-riding hellions led by Adam (Stephen Oliver), cruise the highways of the American Southwest in search of their next great kick. But when Adam’s right-hand man Tarot (Gene Shane) takes the motley gang into to a satanic church, the high priest One (Severn Darden) drugs the gang and performs a ritual sacrifice. Now, two have become – werewolves on wheels!
A grungy fusion of stoner road movie, outlaw biker trash, occult thriller and monster mayhem, 1971’s Werewolves on Wheels was the directorial debut of Michel Levesque (1943-2010), who crewed on Roger Corman’s The Trip and Bloody Mama before forging himself a career as an art director on Russ Meyer’s sexploitation flix and schlock pix like The Incredible Melting Man.
Levesque plays fast and loose with his leather-clad lycanthrope horror, in which you have to wait one hour fifteen to see the one and only transformation scene (and there are no werewolves on wheels); the rest of the movie is made up of the bikers wrestling in the dirt, mucking about in scrap yards, getting stoned around campfires, and shagging their women (or each other – yes, there’s a couple of gay bikers in the gang, how alternative!). The lengthy ritual scene is the film’s highlight – and practically a how-to guide in conjuring up Satan. Levesque shows off his visual flair best in these hallucinatory scenes, while his arty sand dune shots evoke Michelangelo Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point (which came out the year before) and the Monkees surreal 1968 comedy adventure Head.
Given most of the cast were non-actors and real bikers; it’s not surprising there’s very little dialogue. But this does allow for Don Gere’s psychedelic country score – all twangy guitars and beefy riffs with a scratchy Basil Kirchin bent – to hold sway (see below). Also starring Billy Gray (from TV’s Father Knows Best) and pop singer Barry McGuire. The guy playing One, the lead Satanist, is Severn Darden. He’s best known for playing the evil Kolp in two of the original Ape films (Conquest and Battle). This is 1970s bikesploitation at its ripest, and completely worthy of its cult status. Amazingly Tarantino hasn’t scheduled a remake – yet!
The Don Gere Soundtrack
Fans of stoner psychedelic rock will get a blast out of pop folk songwriter Don Gere’s soundtrack that has been described as a ‘hillbilly Haxan’ fusion of twangy country, crazy Krautrock and mood altering psychedelia. British label Finders Keepers, which specialises in re-issuing eccentric oddities, released a re-press red vinyl in 2013, containing 17 tracks, two of which are radio advertisements from the period. Composer Don Gere followed this with the soundtrack to Michel Levesque’s 1973 film Sweet Sugar. After that, little was heard of him.
THE FULL MOVIE
Beware! This YouTube version lifted from amctv.com has some wacky pan and scans.
Posted on December 3, 2014, in Exploitation, Grindhouse, Horror, Might See, Might See, Might-See and tagged 1970s horror, amctv.com, Barry McGuire, Bikers, Billy Gray, Exploitation, Grindhouse, Horror, Michel Levesque, Might See, Severn Darden, Stephen Oliver, The Horror Channel, Werewolves, Werewolves on Wheels. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.