Hell Ride

Reviewed By The Ultimate Dancing Machine
Posted 12/26/08 01:23:12

"Recommended by every Larry Bishop fan in the world--i.e., Quentin Tarantino"
2 stars (Pretty Bad)

HELL RIDE is one odd case: Seemingly designed in anticipation of a trend that never arrived--that is, the retro-exploitation craze that GRINDHOUSE failed to create--and based on a long-dead subgenre that even most film geeks have forgotten, this movie looks so damned out of place in 2008 that it may well have been created in some alternate universe.

Exec prodded by noted trash-film nut Quentin Tarantino, this is a very late addition in the (ahem) canon of Larry Bishop, best known for his circa-1970 biker flicks whose palette he's reusing here. As biker-gang "prez" Pistolero, he snarls his way through a needlessly murky plot that has something to do with these two biker gangs terrorizing each other because Larry's girlfriend got whacked 30-odd years ago. One suspects that the plotline is fairly simple, as revenge stories usually are, but it's not always easy to locate it amidst the torrent of flashbacks that kick in far too early in the proceedings; it's rather disorienting to be thrust into the characters' pasts before we're even sure what their names are.

As noted earlier, HELL RIDE determinedly ignores current trends in cinema. For that matter, it also ignores current trends in reality. This is a highly artificial tough-guy world where people don't even blink when the dude next to them gets shot, usually for no particular reason, and often by persons too cool to look at their target as they pull the trigger. The persons who aren't getting shot are beating one another up just for the hell of it. The persons who aren't fighting are grabbing the nearest female ass and being rewarded with offers of sex. And when they're not screwing, they are talking; and when they are talking, you wish they'd go back to shooting each other. The dialogue is painfully overstylized in that manner where everyone has a roundabout "clever" way of saying things; it's like someone trying to imitate Tarantino without having actually seen any of his films. It's hard to buy into a cinematic world where homicidal bikers explain their faulty memory by saying "I ain't no Marcel Proust." There are places where the colorful dialogue is reasonably clever. But sometimes...

WOMAN: My pussy is on fire. Your thoughtfulness has given me the burning bush. Glad to have the fire marshall arrive on the scene. Extinguish the fire, Mr. Fire Chief. How about we get that firehose out? Fire drill...fireplug me...
LARRY: First the fire chief takes a ride into the desert. Then I put out the fire.
WOMAN: What kind of fire department is that?
LARRY: Fire resistant.
WOMAN: Fire retardant if you ask me. You ain't the only fire truck in town. You know, maybe I got fire insurance.
LARRY: That kind of talk won't get you anywhere with me. I'm fireproof.

The supporting cast includes Michael Madsen and Dennis Hopper, who inhabit their roles so indifferently that their characters might well be named Michael Fucking Madsen and Dennis Fucking Hopper. Their presence only reminds you of the other movies--better movies--they've been in. They're not here to play roles but rather to goad fanboys into going "dude, there's the ear guy from RESERVOIR DOGS!"

I won't say HELL RIDE is entirely devoid of entertainment value--it's too garish, too trashy to miss its low-hanging target completely. But you get the feeling that it's fun mostly in ways that Bishop didn't intend.

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