Sunday, April 17, 2016

Hard Ride to Hell – review

Director: Penelope Buitenhuis

Release date: 2010

Contains spoilers

This is one of those films where actions are vampiric, even if the V word is never used. It hadn’t really flickered on the radar until recently but it does have Miguel Ferrer in the film – an actor who seems very much one of the go-tos when you want a little weight and hard work behind the movie but don’t have the budget for an A-lister.

The film feels like it’s trying to capture the grindhouse of yore, with a bike gang at the centre of the story. But I don’t really think it quite got there. However it isn’t a bad flick.

Tito and his grandfather
It starts in the past and a Mexican peddler (Luis Javier) and his grandson, Tito (played as a child by Esteban Palacio and as an adult by James Crescenzo) are caught in a desert storm. The grandfather touches a jade amulet and says some words, the storm drops to nothing. They are heading into a gringo town and he tells the boy to be cautious. The town seems dead, there is a wrecked old fashioned car, bullet casings (and bullet holes) and money on the floor. The old man suggests there has been black magic used.

the mother
A woman approaches them, her hair hanging over her face. Suddenly, having looked up and with something inhuman going on with her features, she leaps at the grandfather and takes a chunk out of his neck – later she says that her baby was hungry and we notice that she is heavily pregnant. She is pulled off the grandfather by a chain that is wielded by a cowboy from a group who show up. The grandfather gives Tito the amulet and the lad scurries off whilst the leader of the cowboys, Jefé (Miguel Ferrer, the Night Flier & Crossing Jordan: Revealed), opens the woman with a broken bottle to extract the infant – it is dead, she wasn’t strong enough to bring his heir to term.

Brandon Jay McLaren as Dirk
A group of young people are travelling cross-country in an RV. The driver is Danny (Brendan Penny) and with him is his wife Tessa (Laura Mennell, Sanctuary & Blood Ties) who is recovering after a miscarriage. Also with them are Danny’s brother Jason (Sebastian Gacki) and friends Dirk (Brandon Jay McLaren) and Kerry (Katharine Isabelle, also Sanctuary, Being Human US & Vampire (2011)). They stop at a campsite and, whilst there, meet travelling knife salesman Bob (Brent Stait, also Sanctuary). Only journalist Dirk notices his tattoo and realises that Bob is ex-Special Forces.

That night the friends get drunk and Dirk wanders off for a pee, gets freaked out by a snake and gets lost. He stumbles upon a group of bikers who are performing an occult ritual – from his vantage point Dirk starts to film them. The gang have women with them and each are asked whether they give themselves to the fire – each refuses bar one. The bikers then start to bite chunks out of those who refused, eating their flesh and drinking their blood. Unfortunately, worried for his safety, Danny uses a walkie talkie to contact Dirk and this gives his presence away. Running back to the campsite he leads the bikers to the RV and his friends.

given to the fire
The bikers are the cowboys from years before. Jefé was a Castilian priest who found a temple to Satan, went to England and tried to recruit occultists before being banished to the Americas by Aleister Crowley (Mackenzie Gray, Forever Knight). He has discovered the secret of immortality and the price is eating flesh and drinking blood. He is trying to usher in the apocalypse by birthing his heir – the antichrist. There isn’t much in the way of lore – they (Jefé and his men) simply cannot die and are anthropophagus. They can be killed if on holy ground.

Bob and Kerry
This wasn’t bad but you could tell it wanted to be more. Somehow there was no sympathy built for the friends, which damaged the viewer reaction, and the bikers were pretty much character bland too – all bar Jefé. The best character was probably Bob – the Special Forces travelling salesman who comes to the rescue. This tried, as I say, to capture a grindhouse feel but somehow didn’t get there. I could have imagined Robert Rodriguez taking this and making so much more out of it. Its ok, 4 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

No comments: