The second wave of fawning Tarantino imitators commences with Hell Ride, a wannabe badass biker flick that plays like a Kill Bill-Death Proof hybrid minus the genre-deconstruction angle. A vet of ‘60s-‘70s exploitation cinema, Larry Bishop writes, directs and stars in this throwback to fast, loose, hard stories about motorcycle outlaws with phallic guns in hand and nude, buxom hotties in tow, assuming the rule of a renegade named Pistolera who, along with the Gent (Michael Madsen) and Comanche (Eric Balfour), finds himself hunted by a rival gang led by oral sex-loving lunatic Billy Wings (Vinnie Jones). Bishop’s bloody, flashback-drenched narrative (replete with Ennio Morricone-ish harmonica and guitars) is about as coherent as his vacillation between skuzzy film stocks and effects—which is to say, not at all.
Yet more than the nonsensical plot or self-consciously cruddy aesthetic, what’s enervating is his unwillingness to do anything particularly novel or clever with biker film conventions. Hell Ride is an homage delivered with a wink but no analysis, meaning it’s simply a long procession of scenes involving Bishop groping breast implants, cocking firearms, and blathering on about a long-dead Cherokee babe and his own unparalleled awesomeness. Madsen and Bishop complement Bishop’s laughably über-macho performance by also doing an inordinate amount of jutting-pelvis posturing, all while they—as well as David Carradine and Dennis Hopper—indulge in mouthfuls of second-rate Tarantino verbosity.
Initiated by a suggestion from the Pulp Fiction director (an executive producer here), the film plays like Bishop’s eager-to-impress paean to his surrogate cinematic godfather, an attempt by a largely forgotten B-movie star to impress his most illustrious of fans through sycophantic mimicry. As such, aside from a few choice Madsen moments in which his loopiness seems to mock the proceedings (such as when he sits in a tree, blows across the tip of a beer bottle, and nonchalantly states, “Look, I’m an owl”), it’s a drearily slavish affair only a benefactor could love.