Larry Bishop x Quentin Tarantino = Hell Ride

Larry Bishop x Quentin Tarantino = Hell Ride

When I watched Wild in the Streets (1968) last winter, I was as excited about what the music would sound like that accompanied the film as the actual plot. Neither, it turns out, was anything utterly fantastic or beyond some of the other American International Pictures releases of the time. Somehow though, Wild in the Streets was nominated for an Academy Award. Needless to say, it didn’t win, but the film served me as an introduction to Larry Bishop who was the bassist in the films fictitious band. He wasn’t too memorable, but had a face (and character who had a hook) that was.

Of course, the fact that Bishop would go on to star in a few biker movies and then do some guest spots on television throughout the ‘70s would solidify him as an actor of import – unless you’re Quentin Tarantino.

The director, writer and sometimes actor possesses a penchant for his childhood memories and the movies that were a tremendous part of his recollections. The exploitation genre, replete with black vampires and drugged up bikers, has admittedly informed Tarantino’s aesthetic as much as any Kurosawa flick. And because of this – in addition to the fact that Tarantino probably has a few dollars to throw at passion projects – in 2008, forty years after Wild in the Streets, he helped produce Hell Ride.

Written and directed by Bishop, it would seem that his focus hasn’t changed too much over the last four decades. But, then again neither has Tarantino’s and it’s worked out for him. With the plot of this film revolving around some biker gang enmeshed in a revenge plot, it’s easy to figure why Tarantino was interested in the script.

Everything from Reservoir Dogs to either installment of Kill Bill deals with righting the wrongs done to characters by those omnipresent evil doers. Of course, those bad guys in Tarantino’s movie are a bit better explained than in Bishop’s work out.

There’re a series of confusing flashbacks in which Comanche (Eric Balfour) watches bikers act kindly towards him while some other grouping of two-wheeled freeqs kill his mother. The hour and twenty minutes of the film are taken up with finding the murderous clutch of dudes.

The Victors, the biker gang Comanche is affiliated with, is led by Bishop’s Pistolero character. He and Comanche’s mother apparently had a relationship of some sort which ratchets up the revenge narrative a bit more.

There’s a series of betrayals, beatings and murders prior to the final moments of intrigue that serve as the conclusion to Hell Ride. But considering the fact that not only David Carradine makes an appearance, but Dennis Hopper plays a sizable role in the film, Hell Ride can’t be written off as a total loss.

The acting is certainly not always up to snuff. Some of the women are confusing to figure – both as characters and as cast selections – but there’re still enough redeeming, if not low rent, qualities to the entire production as to warrant a quick view. There’re probably won’t be a second viewing or a sequel if that makes sense. So, just be prepared.