Saturday, 23 May 2009

Chrome and Hot Leather (1971)

American International Pictures put out a string of biker exploitation movies in the late 60s and early 70s. The best of them by far was the Roger Corman-directed The Wild Angels, but the two released on DVD by MGM as a Midnite Movies double-header - The Mini-Skirt Mob and Chrome and Hot Leather - are both fun in their own ways.

Chrome and Hot Leather isn’t as delightfully camp as The Mini-Skirt Mob but it’s still engagingly trashy. A biker gang called The Wizards become involved in an altercation with a couple of young women in a car. When one of the bikers is accidentally knocked off his bike by the car he takes revenge by smashing in their windscreen with a chain. The car plunges out of control over a cliff, taking the two women to their deaths. Unfortunately for the bikers the driver was the girlfriend of Mitch, a tough Green Berets sergeant from the local army training camp. Mitch and three of his fellow sergeants set off in search of the bikers, determined to bring them to justice.

They decide to go undercover. They apparently think that wearing incredibly dorky biker outfits with sergeant’s stripes on the back of their jackets and riding small Japanese motorcycles will make them look exactly like bikers. As you might expect, the responses they get from the bikers they encounter range from amused derision to even more amused derision. They do eventually find The Wizards. Mitch’s idea that sleeping with the girlfriend of one of the bikers would be a good way to get information turns out to be an exceptionally bad idea. The fact that she’s the girlfriend of Casey, the very biker who killed his own girlfriend, makes it an even worse idea and predictably enough he gets a particularly vicious beating for his trouble.

These Green Berets are tough though and Mitch escapes and he and his buddies then mount a well-planned full-scale military assault (well as full-scale as you can get with only four guys) on the bikers’ hideout in a remote canyon, using rocket launchers and various other equipment borrowed from the US Army.

The plot is ludicrous but amusingly original. The stunts, fight sequences and the action scenes at the climax, as well as the numerous motorcycle chases, are pretty competently executed. The acting is bad, but it’s good bad acting. Seasoned cult movie fans know that there’s a vast difference between bad bad acting (which is merely boring) and good bad acting (which is highly entertaining). William Smith as the leader of the biker gang does some memorable scenery chewing.

The DVD transfer is widescreen and looks superb. And it’s a great double feature. An absolute must for fans of biker exploitation (bikesploitation?) movies and well worth a look for any cult movie lover.

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