Last night I caught the world premiere of the Quentin Tarantino produced thriller, HELL RIDE, which was one of the most crowded screenings thus far at the Sundance Film Festival. Fans were in high spirits and paying over $60 just to get in and catch a glimpse of the legendary director. When the film finally came to an end the theater erupted into applause infuriating me beyond belief… it sickens me that people will like a movie JUST because Tarantino’s name is on it. I swear to God that if there was a movie called “Quentin Tarantino presents… Watch Grass Grow,” and the entire film was just footage of grass flowing in the wind with spaghetti western music behind it, people would applaud it. It’s too bad I have to be the one to stand up and say something… HELL RIDE is an atrocity, and is guaranteed to make my worst films of 2008 list.
In the film written and directed by Larry Bishop, Bishop plays bad-ass biker Pistolero, (named after the original title for Robert Rodriguez’s “Desperado”) who along with his brother The Gent (Michael Madsen) and Comanche (Eric Balfour), hit the road to avenge the death of Pistolero’s old lady Cherokee Kisum (Julia Jones), by the 666ers a rival motorcycle gang lead by Billy Wings (Vinnie Jones).
HELL RIDE is terrible – it’s so bad it’s beyond comprehension. At the top of the list of reasons why is the screenplay, which is a jumbled mess of nothing. For an entire hour and half bikers talk, bikers talk more, bikers point guns at each other, bikers have sex, bikers then talk some more and then we get to watch one of the most anticlimactic finales in a long time. I’d say it’s safe to say that about 30% of the movie features Bishop either flirting with a girl or having sex with a girl or even talking about having sex with a girl; the other 70% of the film is pretty much chatter. In HELL RIDE all of the characters talk in circles repeating the same dialogue over and over again. There are even a few sequences that are JAMMED with silly puns, such as hilarious references to the number 6 and a five-minute conversation about “fire”. Think of every single pun you can possibly imagine and then picture that in reference to sex and imagine watching this. I understand that Larry Bishop’s film was produced by Quentin Tarantino, but that doesn’t mean you have to BE HIM. Instead of trying to find his own voice Bishop comes off like one of the worst Tarantino imitators in the history of the universe.
Furthermore there is zero character development and new characters are introduced for no apparent reason. I didn’t care about a single person in this film and couldn’t even tell who was good and who was bad, if it even mattered. There are no payoffs, and the finale is extremely weak. The plot twists revolving around the characters made no sense because we couldn’t tell who was in which gang and who was supposed to be loyal to whom – it was a god-awful mess.
Sure the film was loaded with super hot chicks, but the only reason they were there were to try and make HELL RIDE “hip and cool,” which it’s not. And the best part about all of the hotties was that most of the film consisted of 60-year-olds getting hot tail.
In terms of quality, the film looked horrendous, like it was shot on HD and they attempted to clean it up in post. Many scenes were too bright and the color appeared to be off as every character looked red. Sure the score was badass (like that was a big surprise) and some of the editing was quite polished – but you all know what they say about polishing a turd?
Adding more fuel to the fire (no pun intended, sorry Larry), there’s a scene where Balfour opens a safety deposit box, he makes a face and we never find out what’s in it. This was Bishop’s homage to PULP FICTION and more proof that he was trying to emulate a legend. So what exactly was in the box? My hope is that it’s the only print of the film and it’ll be buried again so it hopefully never again sees the light of day.
I don’t care if HELL RIDE is referential or an homage to classic ‘70s flicks, and I don’t care who the f-ck produced it, a bad movie is a bad movie. I like to be entertained when I go to a cinema, and if I wanted to watch a bunch of old people having a mid-life crisis I’d go see THE BUCKET LIST, which is the last on my list of films to see this year. HELL RIDE is one of the most incoherent, boring, useless films I have ever seen and I pray to God that you guys never subject yourself to it.
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