Shout! Factory // 1969 // 84 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis // September 15th, 2012
Hunting down their prey with a quarter-ton of hot steel between their legs!
Biker gang leader Mother (Michael Greene, To Live and Die in L.A.) has just been released from the hospital after receiving a beat down from a rival gang, taking back his leadership role and reclaiming his girlfriend, Marlene (Jennifer Gan, In Like Flint). Fingers (Richard Rust, The Student Nurses), who has taken over both roles in Mother's absence, isn't too happy about this new development, but accepts it and follows Mother's lead, once again. Mother directs them to ride to Vegas to get revenge on his attackers, but trouble on the way causes another change in leadership.
Legendary exploitation producer Roger Corman innovated the cheap biker flick with The Wild Angels in 1966 and ran with it, creating plenty of copies and ripping himself off like only he could. Technically, he didn't have very much to do with Naked Angels, serving as an uncredited executive producer, but the results are basically identical to those he had more direct involvement with. It features a few real Hell's Angels, a gorgeous lead actress in Jennifer Gan, and a couple of scuzzy looking lead actors, which is all par for the biker flick course.
Unfortunately, it's also horribly boring. As the gang rides out from LA to Vegas, it has a near exact resemblance to my own experiences with that trip; a lot of nothing for a very long time. At the very least, director Bruce Clark (Galaxy of Terror) makes sure that we only have to deal with it for 90 minutes, which in reality might get you somewhere close to Barstow, an awful place to be. Performances are dreadful, when there is a little action, it's uninteresting, and the whole production is slapdash and lame. I can't say I'm terribly surprised or disappointed, but that doesn't make me any less underwhelmed.
Naked Angels comes from Shout! Factory in its Roger Corman's Cult Classics collection. Corman fans will be enticed by the label, but don't be fooled. The standard definition 1.33:1 full frame transfer is sourced from an old VHS copy and it looks like it. First and worst, this release continues the awful tradition of full frame releases of Corman's work. I don't know whether it's Corman who doesn't care or the companies releasing the discs, but there has always been a dire lack of attention to decent editions of his films. There is plenty of dirt and damage with an overall washed-out look, but at least there aren't any dire digital artifacts, though that's hardly something to brag about. The sound isn't really any better, as it's the same dirty Dolby 1.0 mono mix that's always been there for the film. There are no extras, but given the technical status, that's no surprise.
Nobody ever accused Roger Corman of creating detailed works of cinematic greatness, but while he had little to do with the film, the producers have taken his minimal esthetic and gone a step down with it. Lacking any kind of real story, and boring, there is little to recommend in Naked Angels and, with such a poor DVD release, there's even less to recommend in a purchase.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 84 Minutes
Release Year: 1969
MPAA Rating: Rated R