REPOST: The Sidehackers, aka Five the Hard Way (1969)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Back when COVID-19 felt like a thing that may not last all that long, circa March 7, 2020, we talked about this movie. Then we revisited it August 4, 2020, when the film popped up as part of Mill Creek’s Savage Cinema set, which we reviewed in full. And now, this biker flick is back again as part of Mill Creek’s B-Movie Blast 50-Film pack . . . but those scamps at Mill Creek: now they’ve included the film under its alternate title of Five the Hard Way . . . and we, at first, though they included, but mistitled, the Gordon Park’s blaxploitation actioner Three the Hard Way. But this isn’t a blaxplotation picture . . . so, while there’s no Fred Williamson, we do get a Ross Hagen and Micheal Pataki fix in the bargain. But, after watching, we still don’t know what a “sidehacker” is.

What the hell is a sidehacker?

It’s racing motorcycles with sidehacks, which is a sidecar with a rail but no sidewalls or seat. As the bikes race, the passenger rides and tilts around curves. Sidehacking is also known as sidecarcross or sidecar motocross racing. The fact that it has a movie made about it doesn’t astound me. After all, I’ve watched movies about arm wrestling (Over the TopHands of Steel) and even games that don’t really exist like BASKetball and The Game from The Blood of Heroes.

Surely I can make it through a movie about side hacking, I thought. But man — what a ride. I nearly wiped out.

Ross Hagen, who was in SupercockThe Devil’s Eight and Alienator (amongst many others), plays Rommel, who is a bike mechanic who dreams of sidehacking stardom. That’s a thing, I guess.

He runs into JC (Michael Pataki!), another sidehacker who is abusive to everyone in his gang, including his girl Paisely, who promptly tries to seduce our hero. Or protagonist. Or guy we’re supposed to get behind. He turns her down, JC beats her up and blames Rommel and then the gang all descends on our man and his lady Rita (Diane McBain, Wicked Wicked).

Robert Tessler, a stuntman who formed Stunts Unlimited with Hal Needham, is in this, as is the writer of the film Tony Huston (he also would write The Hellcats) and Hoke Howell (Humanoids from the Deep).

This was directed by former Broadway dancer — and husband of Goldie Hawn — Gus Trikonis, who also brought The EvilMoonshine County ExpressNashville GirlTake This Job and Shove It and Supercock to the big screen.

It ends as all biker movies must, with the hero killed for no good reason. Ah 1969, when the kids had given up on life.

You can watch this with help from Mystery Science Theater 3000 on Amazon Prime and Tubi.

 

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