EDITOR’S NOTE: This isn’t a Cannon movie, but as I finish out the month, I’m posting the pre-Golan 21st Century movies.
When Toad (Hugh Keays-Byrne, Immortan Joe!), a member of the GraveDiggers outlaw motorcycle club, watches an environmentalist get killed by a hitman and several of the members of the club get killed, Detective Stone (Ken Shorter, Dragonslayer) gets assigned to the case. The gang allows Stone to join them and as you can imagine, seeing as how this is a biker movie, he soon begins to leave behind the normal world with his high class girlfriend Amanda (Helen Morse, Picnic At Hanging Rock) and embrace the nomadic motorcycle lifestyle along with the leader of the GraveDiggers Undertaker (Sandy Harbutt, who directed and wrote this movie, which was a huge success and he never made another; he was also married to Morse at the time), Hooks (Roger Ward, Mad Max), Vanessa (Rebecca Gilling), Dr. Death (Vincent Gil, Nightrider from Mad Max!), Captain Midnight (Bindi Williams) and Septic (Dewey Hungerford).
Meanwhile, the GraveDiggers battle their rivals, The Blackhawks and their leader Birdman (Tony Allyn, The Stud). And that hitman has an idea: a mass murder of The GraveDiggers under the cover of intergang violence. Stone has to solve the case or all of the gang will be in coffins standing up, as that’s how they get buried because this gang rides for Satan.
If you couldn’t guess, I absolutely love this movie. It takes everything great about American biker movies and applies it to the wide-open country of Australia. Real life bikies and bikers were paid with beer for participation as actors and extras in this picture and four hundred of them are in the biker funeral scene. This movie seems as much a Western in theme as it is a biker film. Between that idea, the fuzzed guitars and the slow-motion scenes, there’s so much to love here.
Producer David Hannay said that the most “negative experience” he had as a filmmaker was not being able to get finance for Harbutt to make another film, stating: “Why have I failed? What is wrong with me? I have failed this person who is such an important part of my life, this person with enormous talent, this extraordinary human being, and I have failed him totally and absolutely. It really is the major low point in my life; if I really dwell on it, I get very angry. I should have made a difference. Because I should have been able to make it happen. He is far more talented than 999 of the 1000 other people I know.”
If you get the Severin blu ray, you also get Stone Forever, a doc made in 1999 and a soundtrack on CD. I mean, you should totally be buying that right now.