Sunday, 8 July 2007

She Devils on Wheels (1968)

Herschell Gordon Lewis’s She Devils on Wheels is based on an idea that really should have made an outrageously entertaining exploitation movie. Unfortunately it just doesn’t happen. It’s the story of an all-female biker gang, The Man Eaters, and their conflicts with rival male gangs. The obvious movies to compare this one to are Roger Corman’s The Wild Angels and Russ Meyer’s Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! Corman’s and Meyer’s movies were able to transcend the limitations of low-budget film-making, but this is something that She Devils on Wheels utterly fails to do. The problem isn’t that it’s trashy. It’s supposed to be trashy, some of my favourite movies are trashy movies, but it’s also slow, it’s dull, it’s disjointed, it has no dramatic tension whatever, and it looks ridiculously amateurish. Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! is an object lesson in how to make gloriously entertaining trash, and She Devils on Wheels is an object lesson in how not to do it. It’s totally lacking in the style and imagination, and the genuine sense of the bizarre, that makes Pussycat a true classic.

She Devils on Wheels does have a few things going for it. Betty Connell, who plays the leader of The Man Eaters, has a real presence and she puts some real heart and enthusiasm into her performance. Most of the gang members were (apparently) actual female bikers, and they do at least look dangerous. The Man Eaters are girls who don’t need men to rescue them when they get into trouble, and these women manage to carry that off quite convincingly. It’s also quite fun to see the gang members recreational activities with the stud line. It’s not the fault of these amateur actresses that the movie just lacks that vital spark.
It’s an interesting curiosity piece, though, and probably worth a look as long as you don’t expect too much.

No comments: