12/9/06

209 The Hellcats

(1967, Drama-Bikers, color)

Filmed in Zapruder-Vision.

Rating: ***

In a nutshell:

A war hero goes undercover with a gang of bikers to find his brother’s killer.

Summary:

Ross proves his manliness with an act of extreme stupidity.We begin with a funeral procession, where a group of slovenly bikers carry the coffin of their leader to a gravesite, then lay switchblades, brass knuckles, leather jackets, and other stereotypical biker accoutrements over his casket instead of flowers. All except the last woman, who drapes her bra over the top. This, we learn, is Sheila, the new “main mamma” of the gang. Cops and gangsters watch from opposite sides of the cemetery.

In the next scene, a handsome young cop goes on a picnic with his fiancĂ©, a statuesque blonde named Linda. One of the gangster’s henchmen, a psychotic-faced fellow (played by the director, oddly enough), shoots the cop in the head while he’s heading back to the car for cigarettes. This sets up his brother Monte’s grand entrance, in which he’s escorted to the scene in a grateful politician’s private jet. Why? Who knows?

Monte and Linda decide to go undercover with the biker gang (the eponymous Hellcats) though it’s unclear how they found out that the bikers were involved. They ride to the Hellcat’s clubhouse and endure a hazing that involves a lot of incomprehensible biker jargon, getting sprayed with beer, and knocking down the gang’s Donny Osmond-ish second banana. Satisfied, Sheila accepts them into the gang and they throw a wild sex, beer, and drug party that goes on almost interminably, ending only when someone drops too much acid and has a bad trip. One of the gangster’s other henchmen shows up in the middle of the party and tells Sheila to pick up a shipment of drugs, before making a pass at her.

The next day they all go out for a picnic, dislodging a libidinous painter and a mostly naked model that were there first. This leads to another really long party that not only includes sex, booze, and drugs, but also a shrieking psychedelic trumpeter, an off-screen motorcycle race, an effeminate chain fight, and a contest to see who can get pulled between two three-wheelers for the longest period of time.

As a prize for emerging victorious from this contest, Monte takes Sheila to bed (actually just a bare wire mattress frame with a quilt thrown over it) where he tries to get information from her about … something or other. Like the rest of the film’s plot, we’re not quite sure. She doesn’t tell him anything.

The effort is not totally wasted, though. Sheila feels bad for seducing Linda’s supposed boyfriend, I guess, so she invites her along on the drug run to make up for it. They head down to Mexico in the dead of night to pick up an illicit shipment from a pair of greasy dealers and their whiny pet addict. On the way back, the cops chase them for some unknown reason, and then the one carrying the drugs in her headlight crashes and dies.

Sheila sends the most incompetent member of the gang to retrieve the drugs, and heads over the gangster’s house. Linda follows her, and Monte follows them both. The gangster correctly realizes that the cops will find the stash and easily catch the stupid biker sent to get it back, so he prepares to leave the country by stumbling around the office and having his girlfriend murdered. Some unclear stuff happens involving the gangster coming on to Linda, while having Sheila and Monte tied up in easy reach of power tools and an electrical outlet. Predictably, they escape, though Monte and Linda get recaptured within seconds. The gangster takes them out to a waiting garbage boat and prepares to take them out to sea, while the bikers all come to the rescue. In the end Monte beats up the guy who killed his brother, though we’re not really sure how or if he knows this is the right guy.

Introduction:

Tom flashes back to previous episodes.Joel and the ‘Bots have colds and are really sniffly and grouchy. Even Magic Voice sounds bad.

Host Segment One:

Joel and the ‘Bots cure themselves by filling Tom’s head with medication and turning him into a humidifier. Joel notes from the label that the medication “may cause flashbacks.” In the invention exchange, Joel shows off the sign language translator, where you speak into a tube to have your words signed by a hand at the end. The Mads don’t have a new invention, just their Hobby Hogs from Episode 207.

Host Segment Two:

Tom writes in his diary about the “William Shatner hand” sketch from Episode 106.

Host Segment Three:

Crow records a diary entry about the “Funny or not funny while floating” sketch from Episode 201.

Host Segment Four:

Joel writes a letter to a friend about the “Binocular scope, etc.” sketch from Episode 203.

Host Segment Five:

Gypsy tries unsuccessfully to write in her journal, though mostly she seems to be talking to Richard Basehart. Joel, Tom, and Crow each admit that they keep journals too, and they all have a big group hug. Touched, TV’s Frank cries out “Why can’t we know love the way they know love!” He and Dr. Forrester share a tender embrace and push the button together.

Stinger:

The psychedelic trumpeter yells something unintelligible.

Thoughts:

'A-flurbity glas t'loobital!' he cries.Where did they get that trumpet player? He sounds like a cross between a Muppet chicken and the swallow sound effect from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The bikers in this movie are all wiry, wild-eyed types, and though they’re very convincing as strung-out drug addicts, but they’re just not believable as tough bikers. As far as the plot goes, Monte and Linda want to avenge the cop’s death. While this is clear enough, the movie never quite gets around to it, content to fill time with drug orgies, cross country motorcycling, and off-key folk rock. At the end, I guess the cop has been avenged, and Monte and Linda seem satisfied, but no one mentions anything about it.

Rather than do new sketches for this episode, the writers decided to recycle some of their favorite old ones. The Amazing Colossal Episode guide says that they had to be out of town for part of this episode’s production time, and wanted to do something easy. They chose well, because I liked all of these recycled sketches, too, though they seem incongruous with this episode. The opening and closing sketches are rough and underdeveloped, and I was disappointed to find that Gypsy’s stupid again in this episode.

The jokes during the movie segment seem to fly pretty well. In a shot of the gangster’s scantily clad girlfriend, Tom notes she’s so skinny that, “her back looks like a Klingon’s forehead.” Whenever someone’s hurt, the other bikers crowd around and pour booze on the injured person, so Joel notes that they “learned CPR from Anhauser Busch.” Despite the extreme ugliness of the film, Joel and the ‘Bots made it light-hearted enough that I didn’t mind watching it.