Craig J. Clark — May. 28th 2018
By the time the ’70s rolled around, the biker movie explosion that followed Roger Corman’s The Wild Angels had just about fizzled out. There was still time, however, to squeeze in a few outliers, like 1972’s Pink Angels, about a group of gay bikers riding to Los Angeles for a drag ball, or 1971’s Werewolves on Wheels. Co-written and directed by Michel Levesque, who directed one more feature before becoming the art director for Paul Bartel’s Cannonball! and a number of Russ Meyer films, Werewolves on Wheels is about a motorcycle gang called the Devil’s Advocates (meaning, I suppose, they’re in favor of him), which is made up of a dozen or so interchangeable hairy, bearded savages (who, let’s face it, are halfway to being werewolves before the story even begins) who decide they want to meet the big man himself and go on a field trip to the local Satanic monastery.
Turns out this is a bad idea because soon after their arrival some hooded monks surround them and offer them an unholy communion of drugged wine and bread, which the gang readily partakes of. Once they’ve all conked out, high priest One (Severn Darden, late of The President’s Analyst and Vanishing Point) invokes his master with the sacrifice of a black cat and calls the leader’s old lady Helen (D.J. Anderson) to be the Bride of Satan, which apparently involves her seductively wrapping a snake around her naked body and playing with a skull while One gestures lewdly with a phallic statue. Just in time her man Adam (Stephen Oliver) comes out of his drugged stupor, rouses a few of his fellow bikers and they interrupt the ceremony and bust some heads, but not before having their faces marked by the falling monks.
With a stark naked Helen in tow the gang hightails it out of there, but soon enough their resident mystic Tarot (Duece Berry), whose name gets pronounced every which way but the right one, realizes something is amiss with their vibes or something. This is confirmed over the next couple nights as various gang members (and their old ladies) start getting picked off one by one by vicious killers with hairy paws and a penchant for hiding in the shadows until the final reel. When they finally do show themselves it’s no surprise who they turn out to be (after all, this isn’t a film about lycanthropic unicyclists) and the remaining human members of the gang decide fire is the best weapon available to them. This provides an important lesson to all would-be werewolves: if you’re ever set on fire, “Stop, Drop and Roll” doesn’t really work if you insist on rolling over a roaring campfire while trying to put yourself out.
Their furry former compatriots dispatched, Tarot leads the surviving Devil’s Advocates back to the monastery to get their revenge, but in an incredible twist it turns out they’re the monks they were planning on attacking! Or something! I don’t know exactly, the ending is all kinds of confusing. All I know is the gang rolls on under the closing credits and maybe the rest of them have been turned into werewolves and maybe they haven’t. That’s something that may have been cleared up in the sequel had there been one. As it is, Werewolves on Wheels exists in exploitation isolation.