Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Cycle Savages - 1969

"The Cycle Savages" - 1969
Dir. by Bill Brame - 1 hr. 22 min.

Mainly, this biker-exploitation film caught my eye because it starred someone I'd actually heard of, Bruce Dern.  So, if you're a Bruce Dern fan, and want to see what he looked like when much younger and much dirtier (as in unwashed), this is going to be a jackpot for you.  He plays Keeg, the leader of a biker gang who gets infuriated at an artist who has been sketching their misdeeds.  That's right, we have a biker gang vs. freelance artist throw-down.

Needless to say, this movie isn't very good.  And it's not even not very good in a trashy way, either.  Aside from the chuckle-worthy premise, there is one part of the film that's relatively well-done, if bizarrely chaste and prim by Summer of Love standards.  The artist, Romko (played by Chris Robinson), starts by doing some earnest nude sketching of a beautiful young woman named Lea (played by Melody Patterson) which ends up in a tender love-making session (which is naturally what happens when you whip out your pencil and start drawing a naked woman).  That scene is juxtaposed with another, where one of Keeg's underlings picks up a woman from a bus-stop by licking her ice cream cone (not a euphemism, either), and takes her back to the hideout for what essentially is a gang-rape.

Other than that, Bruce Dern is actually pretty good here.  I'm of two minds about that - his skill makes everyone else in the movie look like chumps.  If he had been as wooden as everyone else, it might have upped the entertainment factor.  Also of note, Casey Kasem has a one-scene cameo that must've been brutal to shoot (he shares a phone call with Dern, sitting poolside while a couple of a cuties swim around and look smoking hot in bikinis).  The rest of the things that were interesting about the film were largely unintentional: seeing what a 40-year old's view of a youth movement was (writer/director Bill Brame was roughly that age at the time, and apparently thought that being a biker meant looking much like a grown, unshaven Pigpen), getting to see what things looked like in Los Angeles 40 years ago (the joy of low-budget film-making is that they probably just shot everything on the fly, accurately documenting the surroundings), and hearing the lead actress refer to herself as a "whore" after getting bailed out of jail, after being rounded up on prostitution charges because the police caught her in bed with the artist (while not having a license to fornicate - a MARRIAGE license!).

1.5 / 5 - NF Streaming

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