Devil's Angels is a little AIP biker flick I wouldn't really recommend to anyone- unless already big into biker/exploitation pictures, really into the 60s or die-hard of John Cassavetes- but I do admire it, sort of. It's not particularly well-made by usually TV director Daniel Haller, and what little imagination with the camera on this crowd is in bits but pretty limited. And sometimes this 'imagination' in the 60s biker movie sense means using the actual distorted POV shots as if they were through a fun-house mirror, and of course lots of tracking shots for anamorphic widescreen. But what's up on the screen is really a kind of bare-bones biker movie, with nothing but a large, riled up, un-stable gang who just want to go somewhere in 'peace'. This leads to their fun being crashing various things. It leads them soon to a town where the Skulls contend with a bunch of good-old small town boys who want them right out of town. Compromises get broken, and then it all leads up to one of the most gargantuan sized climaxes in any biker flick.
So, of course, much of the pleasure that comes out of Devil's Angels is in the purest sense of guilt. This is such a black and white world where bikers see the "man" as being completely oppressive, the townspeople fighting to keep the law and proper justice in line, and Cassavetes's Cody is almost stuck in the middle. His performance is one sometimes of nearing bemusement. This is not the usual kind of part I would think Cassavetes would do (probably though as something to fund one of his own movies as writer/director), but he fills the role well up enough in a very professional yet at the same time laid back manner. And as the one real voice of reason in keeping together his gang, the struggle really does near the tedious. We know what will happen, so there isn't much surprise. This is compensated by some funnier, more creative bits here and there, like when the bikers stop in on a beauty pageant, or some specific shots during their carnival shenanigans.
Sometimes, too, the frustration in watching a film such as this is in seeing some of the potential that is all now locked up in a time capsule going back almost 40 years. It's only real enjoyment comes out of taking much logic out of reality to showcase a broad party animals and jokesters and other vagabond types as well as the stiff-upper-lip townspeople. While the film is not without a pretty cool, satisfying ending, particularly for Cody's character, there seems to be some excess waste in the story until about an hour into the picture. It's respectable enough trash, with a couple of good performances (aside from the assured star), and obscure enough to really appease the B-movie and exploitation flick fans.
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