The Wild Angels/Hell's Belles
Director: Roger Corman / Maury Dexter
Starring: Peter Fonda, Nancy Sinatra, Bruce Dern, Diane Ladd / Jeremy Slate, Adam Roarke, Jocelyn Lane
A combination of the high ragweed pollen count in Iowa and a flashback interview with Roger Corman on NPR coupled with poetically perfect product positioning in Best Buy resulted in the Roger Corman/Maury Dexter double feature, The Wild Angels and Hell's Belles, making its way into my DVD collection over the weekend. Easy Rider fans should definitely consider The Wild Angels a must include piece of counterculture movie history, with Peter Fonda starring as the president of a Hells Angels chapter bent on a life of self-destructive hedonism. Inspired by stories from the Venice Beach Hells Angels who played some of the bikers, this movie predates the more famous Easy Rider with the gritty story playing out like a Greek tragedy for Fonda's character, as his world crumbles around him even as he tries to do the right thing. The soundtrack features some amazing 1960's fuzzed-out guitar tracks that set the tone for an edgy ride across Southern California. The Wild Angels even managed to be the only American showing at the 1966 Venice Film Festival. Hell's Belles, despite the movie poster tagline, "The Bikes were Fast! She was Faster!" is a classic western with motorcycles standing in for the horses. After a cowboy (played by Jeremy Slate) wins a new bike in a motocross it's subsequently stolen from him and the adventure begins. The acting was remarkably better than I expected and overall I found the story in Hell's Belles to be a much quicker pace than The Wild Angels, even if the story is more formulaic. Sadly, this DVD double feature doesn't warrant a director commentary or any of the other features we've come to expect from more recent releases. This combo is currently exclusively available in stores at Best Buy.