Wild Angels, The (1966)

Wild Angels, The (1966)

“We wanna be free to do what we wanna do.”

A group of California Hell’s Angels, led by Heavenly Blues (Peter Fonda), wreak anti-social havoc by riding recklessly, drinking, doing drugs, and molesting innocent individuals.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Bruce Dern Films
  • Counterculture
  • Diane Ladd Films
  • Dick Miller Films
  • Gangs
  • Motorcyclists
  • Peter Fonda Films
  • Roger Corman Films

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, Roger Corman’s Wild Angels is a “despicable film that thrives on brutality, vulgarity, [and] cheap thrills”, and is not worth the talents of either Corman or scriptwriter Charles B. Griffith. As a (female) motorcyclist myself, I’m somewhat sensitive to how bikers are portrayed, and this exploitation flick simply reinforces every negative stereotype in existence. The characters here are all “intolerable and what they do is offensive”. Indeed, it’s impossible to have any sympathy whatsoever for the Angels’ anti-establishment sentiments: rather than strategically rebelling against “The Man”, they simply degenerate into vile anarchistic chaos. Meanwhile, most of “the acting is bad” (though I like Diane Ladd’s performance as Dern’s lover), and “the wild camera work only calls attention to [the] plot[‘s] deficiencies”. Be forewarned.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Diane Ladd as Gaysh

Must See?
No, though film fanatics may be curious to check it out once simply for its cult status and for its place in film history as the first of the “outlaw biker” exploitation subgenre. But expect to be annoyed.


One thought on “Wild Angels, The (1966)

  1. Total garbage that I can’t recommend for any reason whatsoever.

    I’d not seen this, but I do remember when it played at one of our local drive-ins – just like every other biker movie. Is there *any* biker movie that is worth an ff’s time? ‘Easy Rider’, maybe, and only for its place in cinema history.

    Here Corman panders to his perceived cash-paying crowd. Did he have the impulse to simultaneously make some sociological ‘statement’? About *what*? Members of the Hell’s Angels appear in this film, so we gather it was made with their complete cooperation. But do we learn anything about them? No. Do we need to? Apparently not. (And what’s to learn?) Yes, there are a few sequences which are “despicable”. But mostly the movie is just plain dumb.

    That’s the worst part: it is not interesting on any level. It was all too plainly made with the main intent of sensationalism. Translation: to make money, not at all to enlighten.

    The film reaches a moronic high in its all-too-lengthy, climactic sequence in which the Angels arrange a church service for the funeral of one of their own. (Why??? What possible reason? Oh, right…to accent the fact that they’re rebels and non-conformists. …Yawn.)

    A total waste of time.

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