After upgrading to business class, Appellate Judge Tom Becker quite enjoyed his ride to Hell.
It's going to be a killer trip.
In a dusty, deserted Texas border town, circa WW2, a Mexican peasant and his grandson are set upon by a crazed pregnant woman who takes a bite out of Grandpa's neck before being subdued by some black-clad cowboys. The cowboy leader and the mom-to-be exchange some harsh words before his minions strangle her with a chain and the deliver a still-born fetus. The dying grandfather gives the boy a magical amulet and dies, and the boy escapes.
Flash forward six or so decades, and a group of 20-somethings have gassed up the RV for a vacation. It's not all a joy ride, though: Tessa (Laura Mennell, Watchmen) recently had a miscarriage and was told she could never conceive again.
En route to a faraway campsite, they notice a smashed vehicle by the side of the road with bloody handprints on it, but don't stop because they want to make it to the campground by nightfall. They can't call the police because, as usually happens when people choose to vacation in obscure rural areas, their cell phones aren't picking up signals.
This proves to be a distinct liability later when those same cowboys from the '40s turn up—only now, they're leather-clad bikers! And they feast on blood! And they haven't changed a whit in a half dozen decades!
Could it be that they are Satan-worshipping undeaders whose leader (Miguel Ferrer, Traffic) once had a nasty falling out with famous occultist and noted symbol of all things evil and decadent Aleister Crowley and has gone on to form his own cult of depravity and is looking for women to sire his Mephostophelian off-spring? Could the lovely Tessa actually be more fertile than her doctors thought? And could these kids' last hope be in the form an ex-black ops traveling knife salesman and an old priest with a secret?
If you had to think before answering any of the above questions in the affirmative, then you probably haven't seen too many exploitation/action films, direct-to-DVD or otherwise.
Hard Ride to Hell is a silly but fun movie that offers up a fair share of thrills and an impressive amount of grue. It's not exactly challenging—though a little background knowledge on Aleister Crowley is helpful—but its Cormanesque combination of bikers, babes, and blood makes for a good time.
As the nominal heroine, Mennell turns in a sturdy performance; she screams well, and she's believable enough when she's being stolid and brave. The other 20-something actors do fine, with Katharine Isabelle (Freddy vs. Jason) giving off a self-conscious but still cute Jennifer Aniston vibe. There's suffering a-plenty here: One guy gets his life blood sucked out, another has his arm hacked off, and a third has to walk over broken glass in his socks to prove his devotion to his beloved.
Ferrer's embodiment of down-home evil keeps this together. The man has played wormy villains before—most famously in RoboCop—and it's fun seeing him play a bad guy with cojones for a change. Made up with a melted eye socket (a parting gift from Aleister) and dressed in black biker/cowboy garb, Ferrer gets to bellow, threaten, and command his legion to "feast!" whenever he decides to dispense with a secondary character.
On top of this, we get bikers vs. RV chase scenes, the mild-mannered knife salesman showing off his black op moves, and a good vs. evil showdown in a church…plus, a few topless girls who turn up as unwitting brides of Ferrer. It's kitschy and ridiculous, just fine for a Saturday viewing.
The disc offers a good transfer and audio, and nada in the way of supplements.
A silly but satisfying action fest, this one's less guilty than it should be.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Vivendi Visual Entertainment
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