Tag Archives: These Are the Damned

Fright Club: Motorcycle Mayhem

Is it ever too cold to ride? My God, yes – it is way too cold to ride. So instead, we invited our friend Jamie Ray from the Fave Five from Fans podcast to join us as we talk through our favorite chopper-themed horror flicks. Some of these are pretty bad – but so fun! – so prepare for a bumpy ride!

5. Deathmaster (1972)

Oh, there were so many terrible films that could have taken this final slot. Would it be Blood Freak? Chopper Chicks in Zombietown? Werewolves on Wheels?

So many choices!

Deathmaster gets the nod because it combines all the required elements – Satanism, hippies, and motorcycles – but it cranks it up a notch. This subgenre owes its very existence to Charles Manson, who braided those three elements together in the minds of Americans. But Deathmaster takes that one step further by creating a specifically Manson-like character—the charismatic guru Khorda – and making him a vampire.

Why is he a vampire? Maybe because they cast Robert Quarry (Count Yorga), who already had the teeth. Who knows, it comes off as utter nonsense, but it makes for a little fun variety.

4. These Are the Damned (1963)

Black leather, black leather, smash smash smash

Black leather, black leather, crash crash crash

Black leather, black leather, kill kill kill

I got that feelin’ – black leather rock

That, in a nutshell, is how dumb this movie is. And yet, like the ludicrous theme song, it’s just weird enough to stay in your head.

Oliver Reed is at his youngest, sultriest, Oliver Reediest as the street tough who chases his sister and her older American boyfriend right into some kind of underground lair where radioactive children are kept.

Suddenly you’re in what appears to be an entirely different movie. It’s like somebody sewed A Clockwork Orange and Village of the Damned together, buried them under rock, and them lobotomized the final version.

Which is kind of appealing, isn’t it?

3. Psychomania (The Death Wheelers) (1973)

More adorably sketchy Brit motorbikers in this one. Some mods wreak havoc on their bikes (because apparently drivers in England have no idea how much more vulnerable a bike is than a truck). But they crave more!

More danger! More excitement!

So they decide that if they kill themselves they can will themselves back to life and become hip zombie bikers.

The film’s appeal has a strange longevity. It’s never scary for even a moment, and it’s often outright ludicrous – if not adorable – but it does have a style and a couple of performances you can admire.

2. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

Yes, Janet. Life’s pretty cheap to that type.

Whether it’s the Transylvanians traveling dto Time Warp with the doctor and his domestics, or the arrival (and quick removal) of Eddie, motorcycles play a significant role in this treasure of a film.

It was 1975, after all, and no self-respecting edgy, dangerous film could possibly convince the world of its anti-establishment bonafides if no one rode a motorcycle. It turns out, it’s the ones who aren’t riders you need to watch out for.

1. Race with the Devil (1975)

At some point somebody decided they were tired of seeing the motorcycle riders always turning out to be Satanic hippies. Nope, not this time.

The film re-teams Peter Fonda and Warren Oates – so great together in 1971’s The Hired Hand. They’re buddies taking a top-of-the-line RV out for a spin across Texas, along with their lovely wives. They stop to camp in the middle of nowhere, the guys take their bikes out for a stretch, and next thing you know, they’re being followed by Satanists and who knows which of these backwoods locals can be trusted?

The film generates real tension in much the same way Spielberg had done four years earlier with Duel. That tension, supported by solid, gritty performances, give this one surprising punch.