NEW WORLD PICTURES MONTH: Angels Die Hard (1970)

The first film that New World would distribute, Angels Die Hard knows what works: bikers, sex and action. It’s directed and written by Richard Compton, who also made Macon County Line and Return to Macon County. With a tagline that shouts right in your face, “CHOPPER OUTLAWS!..riding their hot throbbing machines to a brutal climax of violence!” you know exactly what this movie has to offer.

Blair (Tom Baker, not the Time Lord) and Tim (William Smith!) share top billing, but come on. You know who I think is the star of this movie. After all, William Smith makes every movie better. There’s literally no real plot, as the film follows the biker gang — look for Dan Haggerty riding an iron horse — as they go from town to town, fighting, drinking, drugging and, well, making unsweet love to anyone they can get their hands on.

When one of The Angels named Seed gets killed — probably by the fuzz, right? — and the guys are still treated poorly despite saving a little boy from a collapsed mine, the small town and the cops still hate them and man, no biker movie ends without a rumble against the law and sheer sadness for the gang, except for She-Devils on Wheels but that movie is set in an alternate universe where female biker gangs rule the world.

The town of Whiskey Flats is an America we never will see again, a place where carnivals just randomly pop up, where people hang out in the diner and no one feels bad about being born and dying in the same dusty town. The Angels roar in as filthy animals, lawbreakers who don’t want to stay in one place and dream of the open road that extends out forever. The town’s undertaker Farragut (Alan DeWitt) ends up following them as a silent observer, not stopping any of their stomping on convention or laws or morals but watching, just watching, even when they send Seed to the great highway up above by unloading their bladders all over his coffin.

It might seem like this movie meanders all over the place and yeah, it does. But it’s meant to be seen at the drive-in, probably in the back of a car or standing next to your bike and in no way would you be sober or straight for it. Seen through the bottom of a glass or filled with pharmaceuticals, it takes on the air that it should, reminding one of when bikers didn’t ride for sociopathic real estate mogul reality show charlatans and instead were truly free. That is, if any of us could be.

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