While it contains little of the artistry and none of the nuance of Quentin Tarantino's DEATH PROOF, HELL RIDE is a similarly fun retro romp through the seedier corners of American B-movie history. Written and directed by Larry Bishop (son of Rat Packer Joey Bishop), who also stars, HELL RIDE is a tribute to the biker flicks of the late 1960s and early ‘70s. The movie follows Pistolero (Bishop) and his two captains, the Gent (Michael Madsen) and Comanche (Eric Balfour), as they booze and brawl their way across the Arizona desert, with the ultimate goal of exacting revenge on a rival gang that murdered one of their members. A healthy mix of throat slitting, coke-sniffing, and naked female oil wrestling makes HELL RIDE one of the more gratuitously sensational films of recent memory; yet if one is able to get past the almost laughably blatant tastelessness on which the movie is built, there is a fairly good time to be had. As the dapper Gent, Madsen proves once again that he could read from the phonebook and still sound like one bad dude, and tip-of-the-cap cameos from Dennis Hopper and David Carradine solidify the film's enjoyably retro/po-mo vibe. Every aspect of HELL RIDE, from the washed-out cinematography to the Link Wray-style spaghetti western surf soundtrack to the pulped-up dialogue, is hyper-stylized and blatantly self-conscious, and that is ultimately what saves the film. If there was even a trace of seriousness here the movie would be unwatchable--luckily, there isn't. Yes, it's completely offensive, and no it isn't going to win over any fans at N.O.W., but for every BRIDESHEAD REVISITED, you have to have a HELL RIDE or the whole lousy business will just crumble.
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