31 Days of Horror 2016, Day 10: Werewolves on Wheels (1971)

I heard about this movie over a decade ago, back when it was still out of print. A friend of mine (y’all know John Holt), was looking for a region free edition; and thinking myself a smart Internet shopper, I found what I believed to be a great copy on ebay…which turned out to be a burned DVD bootleg. Really terrible work. Now that I’ve seen the movie I feel even worse about my heinous purchase, because Werewolves on Wheels is really good! Sorry, Holt.

Thanks to Shudder, I was able to experience a clean (but not too clean) remaster of this 1971, grindhouse, biker flick. Honestly, I expected a bunch of dudes in cheesy wolf masks, riding around on motorcycles and wreaking general gang havoc to psychedelic rock. This movie is actually a super cool occult film, primed to get suburban WASPs all riled up just in time for the satanic panic of that era. Bikers? Devil worship? Gratuitous nudity?! I’m sure this movie ruffled a few feathers, which makes me wish it’d been more mainstream. Alas, it’ll have to have be for fans of the genre only. 

Did you know that you can make a werewolf by getting bitten by the bride of the devil? According to this movie, you can. And you know, werewolf and occultist murder sort of go unnoticed when the people who are dying are total miscreants. This movie made me realize just how different things are now. These days, it would be really hard to run away from home, join and gang, die in the desert, and never be found. Not so in the seventies and latter years, and that wasn’t even that long ago. I can’t decide if I’m glad of this or not. Sure, it’s good that people aren’t dying; but there’s a majesty in being able to disappear, I think. (Please don’t take this as a warning sign, do-gooders and worry warts. I like myself too much to leave home). At any rate, it’s not so much the werewolf who’s evil in this movie, and it may not even be the occultists. After all, the bikers show up in their territory, willing eat their bread, and drink their wine; even though they’re totally strange looking and appear from the woods, donned in cloaks. The werewolf aspect of the movie is more of a curse for interrupting their magic than anything else. Lesson learned: leave the chanting dudes alone! 

So, okay…I really enjoyed this little slice of American cinema. The soundtrack was totally fitting, and it was pretty well edited for a grindhouse movie. So many of those titles are near impossible to get through because of their production quality, but not this one. 

Challenge fulfilled: Grindhouse

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