I figured out that I had a paid holiday in honor of the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. today after getting up at 6 a.m. and driving a half an hour through the snow to work. There I was informed that I was not working. I would have remembered that today was a paid holiday, but I was so tired last night that I fell asleep around 9 p.m. I got home from my pointless morning cruise and went back to sleep. When I woke up, around noon, I realized that as an American, I should celebrate not only MLK day, but also the last day of George W. Bush's presidency by drinking and watching movies.
I popped in one of the discs from my recently acquired "Drive-In Cult Classics Volume 3" boxed set. The Drive In Cult Classics series is a boon for fans of overlooked cinematic swill of the late 60s and 1970s. There are 8 movies per set and they sell new for $10 in your neighborhood dvd store. I got my copy of the Volume 3 set at Bullmoose Records in Portland, Maine for $6.95. The films look great, like they have been transferred from the best source. And when you watch a film called "The Pink Angels" about a gay biker gang, you really want it to look as crisp and sharp as possible.
I drank some Rubinoff bloody maries with my homemade mix (V8, jalapeno peppers, black pepper, horseradish, hot sauce, and whatever else I feel like throwing in), and watched this truly bizarre film. It starts with a bunch of tranny bikers walking into a pool party where they are confronted by a butler. The lead cross dresser biker says "Sorry, wrong party..." and this echoes over and over again as the screen freezes. Then, we see a crazy general being led to his mansion. We then hear the surprisingly good hippie folk song "I See America" by Mike Settle as a group of bikers meet in a field of giant concrete tubes. At this point, the movie seems like it might actually be a real counterculture art film. This is mainly because the song by Mike Settle, is actually kind of moving. I don't know who Mike Settle is, but he did most of the songs in the film, and they are pretty good.
The imagery and cinematography is good throughout, but during the first few minutes, before this film revealed what it was really all about, I thought this might be some sort of out of control art film. It doesn't shoot that high, however. The bikers, even though they look like leather tough guys, are gay. This was the early 70s, so the idea of the leather biker daddy was still seen as being a hilarious contradiction in terms. Most of the movie is comprised of scenes of people being scared of the bikers because they look scary, then being surprised that they are gay. Like, really gay. Like, fancy cross-dressing gay. In fact, they are on their way to a drag ball in LA. There is a wild food-fight in an A and W. As a hitch hiker they had picked up watches them squeal and cavort while spraying condiments on each other, he yells "Jesus Christ, they're all faggots!" and runs away.
This is definitely not a PC movie, as the bikers' gayness is played up as a gag again and again. There is a scene where they get pulled over by gung-ho cops. The cops find their dresses, high heels, etc., stashed in their bikes. There is some great dialog in this scene, like where the cop asks the lead biker to unlock his storage compartment in his bike:
Cop: "What's in there?"
Biker: "A signed 8 by 10 glossy of Robert Goulet."
The cops call them queers and one of the gang, who actually looks alot like Jack Black yells "Well this is one all American red blooded faggot you can't scare!"
Getting into the plot too heavily wouldn't make alot of sense, because the movie doesn't make alot of sense. I will say that the actors are very funny and they seem to be ad-libbing here and there. The crazy ending, which took me an entire post-viewing bloody mary to figure out, is truly bizarre. The mad General that we saw in the opening, is shown again and again, being all crazy and sitting in his flag draped office. Apparently the drag ball was a fake, set up by the general so he could kill degenerates. Hence the weird "wrong party" freeze frame in the film's opening. The film ends with the general standing next to a tree with all the gay bikers hung from it. I don't know if this was supposed to be funny, or to make a point, but all it really did for me was make me say "What the fuck?" All in all, this is a bizarre, one of a kind film that is a celebration of all things wild and free in America, like cross-dressing motorcycle gangs. A fine way to spend an MLK day off with the reassuring spicy antifreeze flavor of a Rubinoff Bloody Mary. God Bless America.