This one is shelved in the 'cult' section of my favorite independent video rental shop, and for good reason. It's ludicrous!
Jack Nicholson is 'Poet,' a bad-ass gas-station attendant who gets fired after mouthing off at a customer and then rides off with the Hell's Angels, chasing after a piece of the macho life and a shot at making it with Shill (Sabrina Scharf), who rides bitch behind club chapter president Buddy (Adam Roarke), the king bad-ass of them all.
A confessed example of the B-movie 'exploitation' genre, 'Hell's Angels on Wheels' plays on every possible cliché: chair-smashing barroom brawls, bikers harassing carnival-goers and helpless drivers, cops harassing the bikers, heavy drinking and smoking of the evil weed by the violent Angels, etc. It's all too hilarious to be believed. The acting is adequate-Jack is great as Poet, making the most out of the stilted, silly dialogue, and Adam Roarke, a B-movie leading man if there ever was one, seems to be relishing every bit of his character's corny, macho posturing. Sabrina Schraff as Shill is a tough, sexy leading lady, though her hip outfits and perfectly coiffed bouffant don't much fit the look and style of an actual biker chick, even in 1967. As a matter of fact, the whole gang is a little too clean and well-groomed to resemble actual motorcycle outlaws, and the soundtrack consists of some of the most hilariously bad sixties-era 'muzak' you'll ever hear. Real Angels wouldn't be caught dead listening to such crappy pap.
The film is most interesting for its trivia value: Included are brief appearances by a host of actual Hell's Angels led by Sonny Barger, who to this day remains President of the infamous motorcycle gang. Apparently the Angels traded the use of their name and insignia for a cameo and a mention in the credits (though one wonders if they would have agreed to do so had they seen the film's final cut beforehand). Sabrina Schraff, the main love interest, was a former Playboy Bunny and later appeared in 'Easyrider', which, of course, also featured Jack Nicholson in his breakout role. Schraff, interestingly enough, went on to become a California state senator.
This is a silly little time capsule-a nice example of the sixties-era exploitation flick and a reasonable indicator of the widespread paranoia surrounding the motorcycle gang phenomena popularized in the early sixties. The Angels obviously enjoy being romanticized as fun-loving but fierce rebels against mainstream culture in the tradition of the frontier outlaws of the nineteenth century and the gangsters of the roaring twenties, but trust me, this movie is no history lesson.
Author: angelsunchained from United States
This has to rate as the third best biker film of the 1960s behind Easy Rider and The Wild Angels. As bad as the script is, it's clear that Jack Nicholson as Poet, an angry gas-pump jockey who joins the Hell's Angels is a star in the making.
The opening scene alone is worth seeing for any biker-film buff, as over 1,000 Hell's Angels on blazing choppers led by their leader Ralph "Sonny" Barger come rumbling down the California highway.
With a supporting cast of Adam Rourke(of Hell's Belles fame) & Easy Riders' Sabrina Scharf, along with "B" movie legend Jack Starrett as a tough-talking state trooper,the movie captures the "wild" days of the 1960s Hells Angels Motorcycle gang. The movie even has a "surprise" ending. With bikers, bikes, booze, and brawls, who could ask for anything else in a better than average "B" film?