Hell Ride



Sundance Film Festival

PARK CITY -- The moribund corpse of grindhouse cinema gets jolted back to life courtesy of the Weinstein brothers and Quentin Tarantino, but the biker movie "Hell Ride" doesn't appear any more theatrically viable than when "Planet Terror" and "Death Proof" were jointly released last year.

Executive producer Tarantino tapped former biker-flick bad boy Larry Bishop to write, direct, produce and star in this genre homage, scheduled to roar to life from Dimension Films sometime this year before undoubtedly sputtering out once its fanboy base is quickly exhausted.

The jumbled story line centers on Pistolero (Bishop), leader of the self-styled Victors biker gang that is bent on retaliation for the murder of a fellow member by the rival 666's, fronted by the notorious Billy Wings (Vinnie Jones). With his trusted lieutenant, the Gent (Michael Madsen), riding alongside and the addition of new recruit Comanche (Eric Balfour), the Victors rumble out to exact their revenge.

Along the way, much tough talk is exchanged, naked and nearly nude women are groped and ravished and generous amounts of violence are unleashed. Frequent flashbacks sketchily outline Pistolero's personal history, in which Comanche seems to take an undue interest. All the scheming supposedly is leading to a big payoff that might be vaguely compelling if the stakes were remotely clear.

Bishop, a veteran star of several '60s and '70s biker movies -- including "The Savage Seven," "Angel Unchained" and "Chrome and Hot Leather" -- summons the requisite bombast to pull off this genre exercise straight-faced.

Perfunctorily exaggerated performances (including a couple of amusing appearances by Dennis Hopper and David Carradine), period-specific zooms, swish pans and other visual tropes as well as a born-to-ride soundtrack help the film evince a degree of vitality.

But even on its own terms, "Hell Ride" lacks sufficient substance to be of more than quickly passing interest for all but the most devoted fans.

Dimension Films
Screenwriter-director: Larry Bishop
Producers: Michael Steinberg, Shana Stein, Larry Bishop
Executive producers: Quentin Tarantino, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein
Director of photography: Scott Kevan
Production designer: Tim Grimes
Music: Daniele Luppi
Editors: Blake West, William Yeh
Pistolero: Larry Bishop
The Gent: Michael Madsen
Comanche: Eric Balfour
Billy Wings: Vinnie Jones
Dennis Hopper: Eddie Zero
Running time -- 83 minutes
No MPAA rating