50 Years Ago Today…
the exciting biker flick Angels from Hell opened. Shot by director Bruce Kessler on location in Bakersfield, California and featuring reall members of Hell’s Angels, it starred Tom Stern as Mike, a disillusioned GI just returning from Vietnam, out to combat the establishment for sending him off to war. He heads for a new town where his buddy Smiley (Ted Markland) and his other former gang members are part of a new biker club, the Madcaps. Backed by his military experience, Mike takes out the club’s leader and beds the mini-skirted Ginger (Arlene Martel), who lets the bikers hang out at her farm because “they amuse her.” Unlike the other biker chicks, Ginger “hangs loose” and doesn’t want to be any man’s old lady. She rides with Mike and the gang to Hollywood to see a former member, pretty boy Dude Marshall (Steven Rogers), who is now a movie star. Ginger gets jealous of Mike’s attention towards Dude’s bimbo girlfriend (Susan Holloway) and when Mike makes time with a go-go dancer she calls the girl’s Lesbian lover who catches them in bed. During the course of the film the Madcaps drink beer, smoke pot, make love and tangle with “the squares.”(“We don’t want them to love us—just leave us alone.”) Mike’s power as leader of the gang goes to his head as he dreams to unite all the biker gangs, after biker Speed (Stephen Oliver) is “accidentally” killed by the police. When an innocent flower child is raped and murdered by one of the drugged-out bikers (Paul Bertoya as Nutty), the police close in as Mike tries to cover it up, to the consternation of Ginger. Now out of control, an enraged Mike calls for an all-out war against the cops only to die defiantly opposing the oppression of the establishment.
Recalling the shoot in my book Drive-In Dream Girls, Arlene Martel said,
“They [Hell’s Angels] were the most courteous and polite people we encountered. Some of the townspeople on the other hand, were so rude. One day Paul Bertoya and I were eating at this restaurant. This guy comes up to Paul and says, ‘I didn’t think we let any hippie fags into this town.’ He then assaults Paul and they started fighting. Nobody did anything! I was so scared. After my frantic prodding somebody finally called the police. It was a frightening moment—let me tell you. I had not been exposed to anything quite like that before.”