Hell Ride


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

If you think back to the original concept for Grindhouse, Rodriguez and Tarantino were going to make their films based on the premise, "What if the drive-in/grindhouse movies had been as good as the posters made them seem?" Rodriguez lived up to the premise. He made a zombie movie with all the CGI frills, all the gore, and all the action that were never actually in those films back in the day. Essentially, he made a Robert Rodriguez movie from a 1969 movie poster. Tarantino, however, did not make a modern Tarantino movie. He basically just made a perfect clone of the period films. That's OK, I guess, if you actually liked those films and wish they were still being made with modern stars. Personally, I had a hard time staying awake during Death Proof. Just about everything that was wrong with drive-in films was also wrong with QT's clone.

Which brings us to Hell Ride, another type of drive-in film: the biker flick. Writer/director Larry Bishop got Tarantino's imprimatur for this one and gave QT a producer credit ... and went about making the same mistake Tarantino made with Death Proof: he recreated a late 60s biker flick, warts and all. Was there anything you disliked about biker flicks? Bad acting? Hell Ride has it. Incoherent plot line? Check. Long stretches of nothingness while bikers ride the open road while a rock song plays? Check. Ludicrous dialogue? Check. Gratuitous macho posturing? Check. Complete absence of character development? Check.

However, Bishop did honor the Rodriguez Promise in that he delivered the nudity and gore that the period flicks never did. As I recall from nights at the triple feature drive-in, there was often a crappy biker flick mixed in with the crappy horror films and crappy softcores, and the biker epics were always disappointing in the nudity department. There wasn't much flesh, and what there was seemed to have been hit with the fugly stick. So I guess Hell Ride is actually an upgrade from the originals, at least in the flesh department, since there is nudity about every ten minutes, including copious nudity in some scenes, and the women are all reasonably attractive.

And I surely don't remember the old-time gore being as explicit as that in Hell Ride, in which victims are slaughtered in automatic weapon fire, garroted, decapitated, set on fire, and shot with harpoons which are pulled rudely out. Others get their throats slit on camera. Pretty much all of those things happen to Vinnie Jones at once, and he takes a bullet to the dick for good measure!

Apart from the intensity of the exploitation elements, you could take this flick back in time to 1968, project it at the local drive-in, and almost nobody would realize it came from the future. The editing style and tone mimic the old films perfectly. It even stars the same guys. Of course those guys are old codgers now. Auteur Larry Bishop, who appeared in several biker flicks in the 1968-74 era, is also the star of Hell Ride. I suppose he's about 60 now. (By the way, he's the son of Joey Bishop, Sinatra's crony.) Dennis Hopper is 72. David Carradine is 71. The young whippersnappers are Michael Madsen, who's about 50, and Vinnie Jones, who's only in his 40s, but is plenty grizzled enough to match the old geezers. These guys are so old that the film could be a Monty Python sketch about Hell's Grannies. If they do a sequel, they'll have to replace the bikes with those riding carts that the aged and infirm use for shopping at Wal-Mart. It'll be like the Seinfeld episode where George Costanza led the irate oldsters on a low-speed chase.

Astoundingly, Hell Ride managed to get a theatrical release. Sure it was only 82 theaters, but still ... what were they thinking? It's obviously a guilty pleasure film aimed at a tiny niche audience. Predictably, it took in only about $1200 per screen on its opening weekend. The numbers per screen rarely go much lower than that. Even Gigli, the notorious Bennifer bomb, took in $1700 per theater on its opening weekend. As you might imagine, Hell Ride disappeared from every single theater after the owners had fulfilled their contractual two-week obligation.

Critics disliked Hell Ride because it was just a bad 1968 biker flick with more gore and sex. Genre lovers and B-movie fanatics liked it for the very same reason. As a result, Hell Ride combines quite a respectable IMDb score (6.3) with a bottom-dwelling score at Rotten Tomatoes (11%). You can use that combo to do a "one of these things is not like the other" for an adult version of Sesame Street with three maligned films that came out about the same time:

  % positive reviews: IMDb rating:
Postal 9 3.7
The Love Guru 14 3.6
Hell Ride 11 5.4

If a film receives approximately 10% positive reviews, that should translate to about a 3.5 at IMDb, right?

Not in this case.

The genre lovers made an effort to see it, made an effort to vote, and really appreciated the film. They held the voting because very few other people saw it, or even know about it.


* awaiting details







2 James Berardinelli (of 4 stars)
1 Roger Ebert (of 4 stars)
11 Rotten Tomatoes  (% positive)
25 Metacritic.com (of 100)





5.4 IMDB summary (of 10)
C+ Yahoo Movies






Box Office Mojo. $213,000 in 82 theaters for exactly two weeks.






  • Full frontal nudity from Cassandra Hepburn and Julia Jones.
  • Breasts from dozens of unidentified extras.





Web www.scoopy.com

Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


Classic C- by definition. Average moviegoers find it utterly without merit. Genre fanatics like it.