If you were one of those people who were in line for the release of Grindhouse last year, ready and waiting for a fantastic display of blood, boobs and crazy shit, then Hell Ride is right up your alley. It would make sense then, that the film comes from producer Quentin Tarantino, as it is every bit a film that you would imaging Quentin would have in his personal collection. For Hell Ride, Tarantino has teamed up with Larry Bishop — a guy who looks eerily like Al Pacino with wacky facial hair, to bring us a good old fashioned Grindhouse style biker movie.
It begins with a short film called “The Rambler” which is entertaining in its ridiculousness. It profiles a hitchhiker who gets picked up by a crazy scientist. When they reach the scientist’s house, our “rambler” meets his daughter. At first she appears normal, but as they get more acquainted he finds that she is a lot more sick than she originally seems. The short is pretty awesome in the way that “the rambler” himself treats this unbelievable situation with such a deadpan tone. It is a lot of fun and a great way to get Hell Ride started, similar to the trailers featured with Grindhouse.
When the film actually starts we are introduced to Pistolero (Larry Bishop), the leader of the the Victors, a rogue gang of bikers that is all about the 3 B’s (Bikes, Boobs and Beer). The Victors are trying to stave off the resurgence of their rival gang, the Six Six Six’s and their leader Billy Wings (Vinnie Jones). Aside from the normal bad blood, they are also trying to find out the identity of Pistolero’s old flame’s son and the “treasure” that his identity could bring.
It is a film that doesn’t pack a significant amount of plot depth, I get the sneaking suspicion that it wasn’t supposed to. Director Larry Bishop’s vision seems to be to make a simple, fun and sex-filled modern day Grindhouse movie. In the lead, he is dark and creepy (and did I mention he looks like Pacino with crazy facial hair). Michael Madsen is also very lively as The Gent, Pistolero’s right hand guy. But by far the best performance comes from a death scene involving Vinnie Jones’ character. Without giving much away, he basically laughs through a very gruesome death — it had me on the floor laughing.
From 10,000 feet, this is not a good movie by any means, at least not in the traditional sense of the word. It is a very simple, cheesy flick that is what I would call a more polished, modern-day Grindhouse movie. It can be most closely equated to the way Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof was filmed. It was shot in digital, so it looks cleaner than you would expect.
In order to enjoy Hell Ride, you really have to allow yourself to be entertained. If you get into flicks like Grindhouse and other over-the-top actioners, you have the capacity to thuroughly enjoy this film. Then again, for those that want to hate it, there are plenty of things you can pick at — there are plenty of holes to be poked. But then, if you really want to hate this movie — just don’t go see it. The rest of us won’t mind at all.
Keep an eye on our Sundance 2008 Homepage for more from Park City.