Werewolves on Wheels
It’s time once again to “Get the motors running” for another Biker Movie extravaganza!
Werewolves on Wheels clearly captured the the end of the Hippie era perfectly – After the infamous Altamont Speedway concert featured in Gimme Shelter, things were getting dark, and two years later, with the court case of The Manson Family highlighting the mood through 1970, there were those who were going down some Occult-inspired paths. The Late 60’s and Early 70’s were a time, after all, of the original era of The Church of Satan and many other groups while the Exploitation film crews were doing their best to offer such cinematic freak outs such as The Devil’s Rain (Helped by the CoS leader himself, Anton LaVey) and this 1971-released classic.
Meet The Devil’s Advocates, a dirty biker group who travels with 13 Riders plus a couple of friends at the back up. Led by Adam, played by Stephen Oliver (Motor Psycho), they travel through the California desert looking for trouble, causing havoc in some shabby coffee shops and gas stations, pop pills, and drink. Adam’s “ol’ lady” Helen (DJ Anderson) is looking good, but is seeking some advice, which is the time to call in the group’s pretentious Mystic, Tarot (Deuce Berry, who really goes by the name of Gene Shane) for some card reading. Little do they know that with all of the talk about being stuck by lighting and other misfortune will all hint at a very interesting adventure ahead.
Tarot, egged on by Adam, decides to lead the gang to a secret temple where they encounter a group of monks who feed them bread and wine. After going to sleep on the stuff, Helen is brought inside the temple where she discovers that they are all one through getting into a wild dance for the monks with a snake and skull. Overseeing all of this is One himself (Severn Darden), but during the ceremony, the gang finally wake up, stop the show, and try to destroy the temple.
While going through Auto Graveyards and even stopping by a very old-fashioned gas station, giving it’s owner (Leonard Rogel) a very hard time, they notice that their members are disappearing one by one, and Adam and Tarot have a man to man discussion that climaxes into a fight. Of course, you know where this is going – after confronting the fact that members have been turning into werewolves, the point where the viewer actually sees something resembling the title in a final fight scene, they decide to go back to the place where it all started. They find out that “they are all one,” and will become the new group of monks, looking like that they applied a load of dirt on their faces (If they thought it would look like stubble on the screen…well, I guess maybe while viewing it drunk or with a print that has been played through a couple of bad projectors.).
Werewolves on Wheels is a unique film, complete with a very basic but effective theme that draws the viewer in a hypnotic spell, and along with the great performances by the stars, there are some cameos including one by Barry McGuire, who had a hit with “Eve of Destruction” with this being part of his last days involved with any kind of Hippie scene. It captures the feeling of the Occultist side of the Post-Hippie era in California very well and it’s low budget and tight schedule made sure that they made use of everything they could stop by and get, including of course the one werewolf costume the budget will allow. Director Michel Levesque came up with a bizarre Road Trip that has become a “Cult Classic” through the years after a very under-performing original run Distributed through Fanfare, and is a great film to end the original Biker Film scene with along with the British Occult Horror classic Psychomania.
The Dark Sky release is the most definitive video presentation, although a VHS on Unicorn Video included a very trivial Comedy scene with a couple of the bikers in the Auto Graveyard in acting out some used car commercial, but maybe that scene was judged not essential to keep when it came time to store the film. Still, we do get to see all of Helen’s Snake and Skull Dance, and that’s worth keeping every frame alive.