Naked Angels (Roger Cormanís Cult Classics)
Directors - Bruce D. Clark
Cast - Michael Greene, Jennifer Gan
Country of Origin - USA
Discs - 1
Distributor - Shout Factory
Reviewer - Scott MacDonald
The Film (1.5/5)
I have always loved a good biker film, from 1953's The Wild One with Marlon Brando to late Sixties Biker classics like The Wild Angels (Produced by Roger Corman, Written by Peter Bogdanovich), and Dennis Hopper's 1967 contribution to the genre the counter culture biker classic Easy Rider. The genre when done right is a fun exercise in anarchic freedom, unfortunately The Naked Angels is not one of those films.
The Naked Angels is not just a bad biker film, it may be one of the worst contributions to the genre I have ever seen. The Naked Angels makes Al Adamson's Satan's Sadist, and H.G. Lewis' She-Devil's On Wheels look positively genius in comparison.
The film was the debut feature by director Bruce D. Clark who would go on to much greater success with the entertaining Fred Williamson Blaxploitation vehicle Hammer, and the Roger Corman produced Sci-Fi classic Galaxy of Terror. However, Naked Angels definitely feels like a first effort. This is a film that looks decent in spots, but the pacing just drags it down.
Naked Angels tells the story of the biker gang The Angels (I bet you're surprised), as the film begins their old leader Mother rejoins them after a stint in jail. He immediately takes over the gang, and of his old girlfriend Marlene from the current head honcho Fingers. After this little bit of plot exposition is out of the way, the gang decides to cruise across Las Vegas to pick a fight with their gangland rivals the Hotdoggers (I am not making that name up), who previously beat up Mother. The Hotdoggers are nowhere to be found, so the Angels trash their hangout, and in a lucky moment of plot exposition the lone Hotdogger to be found gives up the location of the others. They are currently hanging out in a cave in the middle of the desert. The gang decides to head out into the desert, track down the Hotdoggers, and battle it out with them for Biker supremacy.
And that is exactly what occurs over the next 84 minutes. We have footage of the Angels riding their bikes, and then stopping, and then riding some more, and then stopping, talking maybe drinking some beer. Occasionally, someone falls off a bike, or they talk about getting more gas, beer, or food, and in the films most startling twist Mother is forced to leave the gang.
This film is dull on a level I have never seen a biker film achieve. If you want Zen and the Art of 2nd Unit Motorcycle Footage, than this might be interesting to you, all others pass. The most interesting aspect of the film to me was the credits sequence. The film features future documentarian (and Wayne's World director) Penelope Spheeris in a small acting role. It also features cinematographer Dean Cundey (of films as diverse as The Thing and Back to the Future) on board doing the makeup. Overall, Naked Angels does not really have anything to recommend. There are some cool vintage shots of Las Vegas in the 60's, but the film that follows is an absolute drag.
Shout! Factory through their limited edition Shout! Select label have issued The Naked Angels in a 1:33:1 full frame transfer. This was allegedly sourced from the best possible transfer available, however, it is not in the films original 1:85:1 aspect ratio. Also, the transfer itself is not the best I've seen in the Shout! Factory Corman Classics series. There is quite a bit of print damage, nothing overly significant, mostly little scratches and nicks, but they are pretty frequent. Outside of that the transfer is quite soft, and the black levels are a little off in spots.
The audio is presented in a Dolby Digital English Mono track. The track itself is solid with dialogue clear throughout, as is the music by future Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention guitarist Jeff Simmons, and Randy Sterling (Not a future Mother). I did not detect any instances of pops, cracks or hissing on the track.
There are no extras on this release at all.
This Roger Corman produced biker film does not even stand close to his own Wild Angels from a few years before. I cannot recommend this one based on A/V or extras, and obviously not for the film itself. If you are a Corman completist, or a Biker Film collection and want this to add to your collection Recommended. All else a RENTAL at best.