Noawadays, thanks to Netflix, many of these classic (and not so classic) movies are actually still available for your viewing pleasure. Most of the poser flicks included words Wild, Angels, or Hell in the title but after weeks of diligent watching, extensive scientific research and a lot of really cheap, watered down beer I have provided my Top 10 list of must see biker movies. The criteria are based on three factors: first the actual availability to view the movie; secondly, the socio/political impact on motorcycle culture; and finally, how much I personally liked the movie. What makes me a movie critic? Well, everybody is a critic! I intentionally did NOT include The Wild One, Easy Rider, On Any Given Sunday, Worlds Fastest Indian, et al., because they are obvious choices.
In typical Letterman Top Ten countdown fashion let the games begin.
Classic line from
The Wild One (1953):
“What’re you rebelling against, Johnny?
Johnny (Marlon Brando)
10. 1971 Werewolves on Wheels
What happens when motorcycle gang, “The Devil’s Advocates” meet up with a cult of satanic monks who promptly turn them into werewolves? No scripts, bad acting and lousy cinematography are the highlights of this thriller. To be watched fully inebriated.
9. 1968 She Devils on Wheels
The Man-Eaters, an all-female motorcycle gang terrorize a local community with the new prospect Honeypot, racing each other for first pick of their male groupie “stud line” and throwing raucous orgies. Really no redeeming qualities but a cult classic must see and again, twelve-pack suggested.
8. 1967 Born Losers
This first film of the Billy Jack series bombed at the box office, as a vicious motorcycle gang intimidates the residents into silence (The Wild One, anyone?). Shot in Seal Beach, California the Irisher Pub is a prominent location shot. When supposed Indian half-breed/Vietnam vet Billy Jack rescues a young woman from the bikers’ violence, he finds himself in trouble with the town’s racist police and the gang. The Mod/Hippie bikers in black turtlenecks wear buttons with slogans: Support Sloppiness and LSD.
7. Biker Triple Mania!; Rebel Rousers; The Wild Ride; Biker Babylon;and Johnny Legend Presents: Biker Mania! (on two DVDs)
Biker Mania is basically a collection of impossible to find (but on Netflix) biker movie trailers and is truly worth the watch because really the trailer is all you will ever want to see. The bonus material includes back-story on Johnny Legend, which I suggest watching first. Biker Triple Mania is another Johnny Legend presentation. This double feature includes all-star cast Jack Nicholson, Bruce Dern, Harry Dean Stanton, Diane Ladd, and Cameron Mitchell in Rebel Rousers and The Wild Ride (1960). Both flicks perpetuate stereotypes that bikers are drunken rapists and that all Mexicans wear ponchos. The Biker Babylon documentary on the other hand includes some amazing footage from the ’60s and ’70s.
6. 1970 C.C. and Company
Filmed the year after Broadway Joe Namath’s legendary Super bowl victory. A totally hot Ann Margaret plays Namath’s love interest and the motocross and nightclub sequences are extremely entertaining. Although the music is atrocious and cameo appearance of Mitch Ryder playing the hit song “C.C. Rider” is kinda creepy, this is on the must see list for Joe’s zebra-painted chopper alone. NOT available on Netflix but I had to see this and picked it up on eBay for 5 bucks.
5. 1968 Girl on a Motorcycle
Besides the fact that Marianne Faithful is regularly naked while slipping into and out of her leather cat suit (the European title was Naked Under Leather), this interesting British film actually addresses why we love to ride and is devoid of the entire stereotypical Hollywood biker fights and drunk fests. Well worth watching Ms. Faithful ride through the European countryside on a killer 1967 Harley Shovelhead. Kick back, light up the hookah and if you remember the sixties, enjoy the trip…did I mention Marianne gets naked in this film?
Girl: “What do you do?”
Girl: “What do you mean?”
Dafoe: “I mean like zero baby”
4. 1982 The Loveless
Willem Dafoe in his feature-film debut includes an actual script, interesting cinematography, classic Harleys and Corvettes. Yes, there is a lot of bad acting punctuated by Salem and Lucky Strike cigarettes and really bad biker clichés while Dafoe channel’s Brando and James Dean.
3. 1992 Roadside Prophets
An entertaining script and some excellent cinematography this is a tale of factory worker named Joe (X front man John Doe) who hits the road on his Harley to scatter the ashes of a coworker. Joined by wannabe biker Sam (Adam Horovitz of The Beastie Boys), Joe journeys from Los Angeles to Nevada looking for Eldorado. Along the way meeting wild characters played by the likes of David Carradine, John Cusack, Timothy Leary, and Arlo Guthrie, along with cameos by Flea and Don Cheadle. Great music, reasonable acting combine for a Netflix biker must see.
2. 2005 Dust to Glory
This action packed documentary chronicles the infamously treacherous Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 off-road race across Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. In order to capture the race’s true power and the majestic beauty of the desert, 55 cameras and four helicopters were used during filming. Join famous racing names such as Robby Gordon, Mario Andretti, Jimmy Vasser, and Mike “Mouse” McCoy for an unforgettable look at one of racing’s most thrilling events.
Drum roll please.
My Number One Netflix Biker Flick is...
1. The Long Way Round
Another documentary, The Long Way Round is one of the most compelling motorcycle adventure documentaries I’ve seen. It’s actually a TV series featuring film actor Ewan Macgregor and friend Charly Boorman. This 25 part 5 DVD series documents a 19,000 mile journey through Europe, Asia, and Alaska to New York and is exciting, comedic and compelling and thoroughly entertaining.
Honorable Mention 2004 Motorycycle Diaries:
This true story is based on diaries of revolutionary Che Guevara. In 1952 as 23-year-old medical student Guevara motorcycled 8,000 kilometers on an old 1939 500cc single cylinder Norton 500 across South America with his friend Alberto Granada. Hilarious riding scenes good acting and beautiful cinematography. “The Mighty One,” AKA, the Norton 500 unfortunately dies 1/3 into the film.
41 years after Easy Rider captured the collective unconscious of American motorcycling culture we all have favorite films. What are the worst biker movie rentals? Rent Biker Zombies From Detroit or you can watch full-length movies Hells Bloody Devils or Angels Wild Women on YouTube if you really need a good dose of bad biker flix.
The very last lines from
Harley-Davidson and THE MARLBORO MAN (1991)
Mickey Rourke: “Where ya headin’?”
Hot Girl: “Nowhere special.”
Rourke: “C’mon, I’ll take ya there.”
The two ride off into the sunset...