I have been praising the Midnite selections over at Williamsburg's Spectacle Theater for months now. Who ever is doing the programming over there obviously knows what the fuck is up, and there is usually something good going on at least once a week for fans of cult trash. Even though budget and social restrictions typically prevent me from going, there have several movies on their roster that I had never heard of but made it a point to seek out. The Death Wheelers(1973) was one of these films I knew I had to see even if I couldn't make the screening. Biker Gangs, Devil Worship and the Living Dead all rolled into one little British package. What more could a man want?
After months of having a copy, I was finally able to sit down and watch it with friends and loved ones. Movies like this I like sharing with the Girlfriend. It also helped that we had a guest and there is currently nothing available on primetime for the next couple of weeks, so the evening's entertainment totally ended up in my favor.
And it was completely worth it.
Granted, it didn't go exactly as described. There was a biker gang, The Living Dead, and they aren't the friendliest bunch. Antisocial is a bit tame of a word to describe their actions. The Devil Worship wasn't really "worship" per se. It was more of a "Deal with the Devil", or a "Deal with the Toad Demon". That's right, I said Toad Demon. In fact, in Death Wheelers toads are the reason for the season. How very odd, but I know I've seen stranger storylines in movies from the 70's.
Then we get to The Living Dead. To most people, "living dead" refers to mindless, rotting husks of humanity who sustain themselves on the brains of the living. Not so much here. To be "living dead" in the Death Wheelers pretty means having all the benefits of higher undead, like a vampire, but without many of the drawbacks (I think there is something bad with crucifixes). To become the "living dead" all one must do is want to die to live. Sounds confusing, doesn't it? Well I can't give everything away.
I had fun watching this film, although there were a couple lowpoints. Namely, the lack of gore. I'm assuming it had more to do with British censors than artistic direction, but I could have used more blood and guts. It also felt slow at parts, which could have been considered a good set-up for all the road action, which I thought was nicely filmed and proper. I was also a huge fan of the music, from the cheesy little acoustic numbers to the psych/mod/soul rock that made up most of the background even if it was pretty repetitive.
If you like Hammer Horror with a higher budget and JD/biker movies, you would probably get a kick out of the Death Wheelers. Even if you don't, but are still a horror and action fan, it's still worth at least one watch.