By Richard Winters
My Rating: 2 out of 10
4-Word Review: Rape, murder and mayhem
This low budget flick is probably best known as having aired on an episode of the old ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’ TV-show. At the time the writers had not watched the movie all the way through before deciding to use it for the show and when they came upon a rape sequence half-way through it they had to edit it out and have Crow simply explain that the character was now dead. It is also famous for being directed by Goldie Hawn’s then husband Gus Trikonis. In fact Goldie auditioned for one of the parts in the film, but since she wasn’t well known at the time she got turned down.
The story centers around Vince (Ross Hagen) a motorcycle racer involved in the sport of sidehacking where a passenger rides along in a sidecar connected to the motorcycle and uses his body weight to help steer the bike around curves and turns. The psychotic J.C. (Michael Pataki) watches the sport and wants to work with Vince, but Vince becomes aware of J.C.’s volatile personality and turns him down. This angers J.C. and later when his girlfriend Paisley (Claire Polan) falsely accuses Vince of having tried to rape her J.C. flies into a rage. He and his men attack and beat up Vince and then rape and murder Vince’s girlfriend Rita (Diane McBain). Vince then spends the rest of the film trying to track down J.C. and getting his revenge.
The only diversion of this otherwise run-of-the-mill drive-in drama is the scenes involving the racing, which is better known as sidecarcross. Trikonis captures the racing in vivid style giving the viewer a good feel of the sport. Personally I thought it would be excessively dangerous for the passenger who puts himself into a very vulnerable position as he tries to steer the bike from the side and could easily fall off, or be hit by the other bikes that zoom around him. The shots of the crowd seem to show them as really being into it, but I felt that after watching it for a few minutes it would get monotonous.
With that said it is still the most interesting aspect of the film and I felt the story should have revolved around it. For instance having J.C. try and sabotage one of Vince’s races, but instead the racing scenes are shown only at the beginning before devolving into just another stale and redundant revenge drama. The dialogue is stilted, the characters bland, and the direction lifeless. Boredom quickly sets in and never goes away.
The music score is particularly horrendous. With the exception of the final fight scene when it does have a nifty psychedelic quality it is very sappy and terribly harmonized. Hearing it played over shots of Vince and Rita frolicking merrily through some open fields may be enough to make some viewers gag.
Pataki gives a good intense performance as the psycho and at times goes a bit over-the-top, but with this type of production that can only help it. The rest of the acting like everything else seems amateurish. If you want to seek this film out simply to catch the scene that was cut from the TV broadcast I would say it isn’t worth it. The sequence is not all that graphic and it is shown only as a flashback, which takes less than a minute.
My Rating: 2 out of 10
Released: May 12, 1969
Runtime: 1Hour 22Minutes
Alternate Title: Five the Hard Way
Director: Gus Trikonis
Studio: Crown International Pictures
Available: DVD (The Savage Cinema Collection)