12/9/06

207 The Wild Rebels

(1967, Drama-Bikers, color)

For kicks, baby. For kicks.

Rating: **

In a nutshell:

An ex-racecar driver goes undercover to catch a gang of nazi bikers.

Summary:

Blessed are the pit crew, for they shall be filled with the gasoline of holiness.In the opening of The Wild Rebels, stock car driver Rod’s car bursts into flames. Frustrated, he jumps onto the hood of another car and sells off the rest of his earthly possessions in an impromptu auction to a bunch of confused mechanics.

He takes to drifting and ends up in a college bar where a gang of drunken nazi bikers recognizes him as a former racer. They consist of the verbose Jeter, the excitable Banjo, the promiscuous Linda, and the unintelligible Fats. They haltingly ask him back to their “chateau.” Rod inexplicably accepts and leaves just before they start a fight. The chateau turns out to be a backwoods garbage house adorned with swastikas. They ask him to be the getaway driver for their pointless, violent crime spree.

In his only display of common sense in the entire film, Rod refuses and wanders into the woods. The cops immediately question him, and then ask him to go undercover to get evidence so that they can arrest the gang. Never mind that the bikers have just severely beaten several college kids at the bar in front of dozens of witnesses.

Rod stupidly agrees and, with the help of the cops, blows up another car to regain the bikers’ trust. They welcome him into their fold and steal a bunch of guns for a robbery they’re planning. You’d think they could be arrested for stealing guns, but no, apparently you can’t get arrested for anything short of bank robbery in this state.

Rod signals the cops by singing a folk song while getting it on with Linda, and then gets in a fight with Banjo. Ultimately, he disappoints them all by refusing to murder Banjo when he wins. Even Banjo seems disappointed.

The next day they lose pursuit by driving down the railroad tracks. The cops who are supposed to be following them somehow miss them even though the tracks are clearly visible from the highway. They rob the bank with a syringe, and kill some cops that Rod has called over to stop them.

Recognizing him as a traitor, the bikers force Rod to drive them out of town to a lighthouse, where they hole up while the cops surround them. After a bloody battle claims the lives of Banjo, Fats, and about three dozen cops, Rod grabs Fats’ gun and gets in a fight with Jeter. When his bullets are exhausted, Rod awaits Jeter’s final shot, but Linda has a sudden change of heart and kills Jeter. Linda is arrested, presumably to spend the rest of her life in jail.

Introduction:

They don't think on, Soul Brother.Gypsy’s sad, so Joel shuts down the ship’s higher functions to allow her intelligence to shine through.

Host Segment One:

The Mad Scientists invent Hobby Hogs, which are motorcycle hobbyhorses. Joel invents the Star Trek-esque 3D pizza, which is regular pizza on several trays of varying heights. Quoth Crow, “It feels like I’m really here.”

Host Segment Two:

Joel talks about the famous writers of the Algonquin round table as if they were all nazi bikers.

Host Segment Three:

Joel and the ‘Bots sing about Wild Rebels Cereal and pour milk from an oilcan.

Host Segment Four:

Joel sings a sappy folk song to Gypsy. Tom and Crow beat him up when he’s finished. Quoth Gypsy, “I’m in it for the kicks.”

Host Segment Five:

Tom and Crow are depressed by the movie. Quoth Crow, “This movie was like spending the weekend with your dentist.” Joel convinces them that the movie was so stupid that it was funny, and they all have a party. This confuses Dr. Forrester and TV’s Frank. Dr. Forrester puts Frank down for the night.

Thoughts:

They accost ex-racecar drivers in college bars for the kicks.Joel convincing the ‘Bots that the movie is fun because it’s so stupid is actually the reason we watch bad movies in the first place, and the reason that MST3K is so popular. Making fun of bad movies always brings a smile to my face.

Hobby Hogs are a pretty cool idea. I’d get some for my kids if I found them in a toy store. 3D pizza seems pretty pointless, though. All of the host segments are pretty good in this episode. It’s almost always funny when Joel goes off on one of his little revisionist history lessons, and the Wild Rebels Cereal sketch comes off very well. Gypsy is portrayed as intelligent for the first time in this episode. It’s a welcome change.

Looking back through English theatrical history, people could get away with staging a really dirty play during the height of the oppressive Puritan regime, as long as they tacked a moral onto the end. The hedonistic biker movies of the sixties and seventies remind me of this artistic philosophy. It’s okay to show a lot of drugs and sex and alcohol and pointless violence as long as everyone dies in the end. That way, we’ll all know that crime does not pay, and feel good about all the ugliness we just saw. Discerning viewers (being an MST3K fan makes you a discerning viewer) will recognize that the movie is just an amoral celebration of alcohol, sex, and violence.

Still, Joel’s point about the movie being so stupid that it’s funny holds true, and the SOL crew helps the movie along. Rod’s noble pose on the car while he auctions his stuff off leads to racetrack beatitudes. His non sequitur folk song leads to an instant chorus of Jerry Lewis impressions. During a long, uneventful shot of the railroad tracks, Joel puts his ear to the track and says, “I hear a big, stupid ending.” It’s a big, stupid, ugly film, but it’s lighthearted enough to make it a decent episode.