In the black, twin cam, exhaust-spewing wake of Easy Rider, the outlaw Biker film leapt from insignificant niche filmmaking to viable economic property. The relative simplicity and ease of creation in the biker genre lent itself so absolutely to ultra low budget filmmaking that a plethora of films like Al Adamson’s Satan’s Sadists and Roger Corman’s Angel Warriors were popping up at Drive In theaters in spastic fits of double feature mania, all trying to capitalize on the counterculture success of Dennis Hopper’s epic of seditious Americana. A few, more inventive souls seemed to think that they could incorporate two grindhouse staples, the biker film and the monster movie, into one unabashedly glorious concoction. Out of this dark cloud of carbon monoxide cinema comes the rise and fall of the Werewolves on Wheels.
First time director Michel Levesque, who would later achieve some varying success as Art Director on several Russ Meyer films as well as Paul Bartel’s fantastically underrated Cannonball, along with producer Paul (Easy Rider) Lewis strive to chronicle the tale of The Devil’s Advocates, an outlaw motorcycle gang. The hooligans, do well, what all cinematic cycle gangs do, they defy the rules, smoke some grass, terrorize the populace, drink cheap booze and lay even cheaper chicks, all in search of their version of the American dream. But this wild bunch is in for one hell of a surprise when they run across the path of a group of satanic Monks who take a liking to one of the girls. After a pit stop off that culminates into a bacchanalian orgy of bread, wine and naked snake dancing. The gang wakes up, tries to figure out what the hell just happened to ‘em and decides to kick the monks asses, grab back their girl, and then head out on the highway in continued pursuit of their anarchic freedom, blissfully unaware that some of them have been cursed to walk the night as werewolves.
Frankly, and as I suspect might be fact, the werewolf aspect of the film seems totally tacked on, as if, the filmmakers were laughingly pointing to the screen and chanting “see what I can do”. Strictly as a biker film, Werewolves on Wheels falls somewhere in the middle of the pack. It has a groovy rock and roll soundtrack and it adheres to all the basic ground rules of the genre. By and large the biker film for all its traveling, never really goes anywhere anyways. But as a horror film, even a tongue-in-cheek one, the pic is laughable at best. The Make-up and effects are torn right out of the old AIP teen wolf schlock fests and the supposed terror that the hairy hellions unleash on their buddies, is tantamount to some vampire-esque neck sucking. Since the gang is drunk and or stoned for the entire film, they really have very little reaction to being killed off, which actually makes the film slightly more interesting to watch, if only for the unintentionally humor.
To call the movie inept would be too harsh; in fact, the gross naiveté on display may be the most charming hallmark of the movie evoking a fond nostalgia for a type of film that even under the direst circumstances would never see production in today’s corporate cinematic mindset. So, Werewolves on Wheels may not roar its way into the lexicon of lost grindhouse classics, but it beats the hell out of watching another sad Hollywood attempt at trying to reach today’s disaffected youth through 90-minutes of gross-out humor with a poppy Emo band soundtrack.