Outlaw biker film

The outlaw biker film is a film genre that portrays its characters as motorcycle riding rebels. The characters are usually members of an outlaw motorcycle club.


Outlaw biker clubs formed in the late 1940s on the West Coast after the end of World War II. Their culture was first popularized in the Marlon Brando film The Wild One (1953), which tells a story based very loosely on actual events. The film's success was followed by a string of low-budget exploitation films aimed at a teenage audience such as Motorcycle Gang (1957) and The Hot Angel (1958). But the genre really took off in the mid-1960s, after the Hell's Angels motorcycle club became prominent in the media,[1] in particular, after Hunter S. Thompson's book Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (1966) was published.

Films of the 1960s

In 1965, director Russ Meyer made Motorpsycho (aka Motor Psycho), an obscure film about an evil motorcycle gang led by a disturbed Vietnam War veteran. In 1966, American International Pictures (AIP) released The Wild Angels with Peter Fonda, Bruce Dern, and Nancy Sinatra. This film, aimed at the teenage drive-in crowd, was a surprise hit and a new exploitation film subgenre was born. AIP dominated the market and quickly released a semi-sequel Devil's Angels starring actor-director John Cassavetes and The Glory Stompers with Dennis Hopper in 1967.

In 1968, AIP produced The Mini-Skirt Mob, Angels from Hell, and The Savage Seven (the film debut of actress/director Penny Marshall). The company made five more biker gang films: Hell's Belles (1969), Hell's Angels '69 (1969), Angel Unchained (1970), The Hard Ride (1971), and Chrome and Hot Leather (1971).

AIP and Fanfare Films also co-produced The Born Losers (1967). Fanfare made Hells Angels on Wheels (1967) with Jack Nicholson, Run, Angel, Run! (1969), Wild Wheels (1969), and Nam's Angels (1970).

Other small independent filmmakers went on to produce dozens of low-budget biker films until the trend dissipated in the early '70s. Crown International produced and/or distributed Wild Rebels (1967), The Hellcats (1968), The Sidehackers (1969), Wild Riders (1971), and Pink Angels (1972). Independent-International Pictures Corp. produced three films in this genre directed by Al AdamsonSatan's Sadists (1969), Hell's Bloody Devils (1970), and Angels' Wild Women (1972).

The Rebel Rousers (filmed 1967, released 1970) featured Jack Nicholson, Bruce Dern, and Harry Dean Stanton. Dern also starred as a sadistic gang leader in The Cycle Savages (1970). In 1969, Peter Fonda, Hopper, and Nicholson teamed up on the classic "hippie biker" movie, Easy Rider, the antithesis of the violent biker-gang genre.

Sonny Barger, founder of the Oakland chapter of the Hell's Angels, was a consultant on several films. He and other gang members appeared as extras in Hells Angels on Wheels and Hell's Angels '69. The Hell's Angels appeared as extras playing a gang called the Las Vegas Hotdoggers in the Roger Corman film Naked Angels (1969) starring Michael Greene.

The Born Losers

The Born Losers (1967) introduced Tom Laughlin's character Billy Jack. Unable to get his Billy Jack script produced, Laughlin wrote and directed The Born Losers to capitalize on the current biker movie trend (which finally allowed him to make Billy Jack in 1971). The story was inspired by news reports of the Hell's Angels terrorizing a California community. As a cost-saving measure, a stunt scene of a motorcycle crashing into a pond was taken from co-producer AIP's comedy The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966).

The Born Losers is also significant for its social criticism and portrayal of the biker gang as a force of pure, unredeemable evil. Here, for the first time, a lone hero stands up to, and ultimately defeats, the gang. Prior to this, the majority of the films in this genre imitated The Wild One with a sympathetic gang member (the reluctant leader or a new member) who ultimately rejects the outlaw biker lifestyle. Prime examples are the Fonda character in The Wild Angels, Jack Nicholson in Hell's Angels on Wheels (1967), and Joe Namath in C.C. and Company (1970).

Jack Starrett has the role of a tough-talking police officer. He played essentially the same character in Hells Angels on Wheels and Angels from Hell (1968). Starrett was also in Hell's Bloody Devils (1970), and directed Run, Angel, Run (1969) . In Nam's Angels (1970) the bikers are portrayed as patriotic heroes sent on a rescue mission to Vietnam.

Novelty biker films

A number of novelty films were made featuring all-female biker gangs such as The Hellcats aka Biker Babes (1967), She-Devils on Wheels (1968), The Mini-Skirt Mob (from AIP) with Sherry Jackson and Harry Dean Stanton (1968), Sisters in Leather (1969) with Pat Barrington, Angels' Wild Women (1972), Cycle Vixens (1978), and Chrome Angels (2009).

The Pink Angels (1971) is a somewhat campy film about a gang of homosexual bikers who head down the coast to attend a drag ball. Bury Me an Angel (1972) is a revenge story featuring a female biker (and female director). Angels' Wild Women (1972) centers around a group of tough female bikers who dominate men and eventually go a revenge-driven rampage. The story (and original Screaming Angels title) was changed after the producers found theaters were no longer interested in traditional biker films. Inspired by the popularity of Roger Corman's The Big Doll House (1971), a violent women in prison film with Pam Grier, new scenes were added featuring aggressive female bikers and a Pam Grier lookalike was added to the cast. The reworked and retitled film was a box office success.

In Japan, female biker films became popular starting with Alleycat Rock: Female Boss (a.k.a. Stray Cat Rock: Delinquent Girl Boss or Female Juvenile Delinquent Leader: Alleycat Rock or Wildcat Rock) (1970). This trend was part of the sukeban (delinquent girl) subgenre of Toei's "Pinky violence" style of Pink film. The series continued with Stray Cat Rock: Wild Jumbo, Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter, Stray Cat Rock: Machine Animal and Alleycat Rock: Crazy Riders '71. Another similar series of exploitation films with female bikers includes Delinquent Girl Boss: Ballad of the Yokohama Hoods (1971), Girl Boss: Queen Bee Strikes Again (a.k.a. Girl Boss Blues: Queen Bee’s Counterattack) (1971), and Girl Boss Guerilla (1972).

The 1970s to the present

In 1970, Roger Corman left AIP to form New World Pictures which released Angels Die Hard (1970), Angels Hard as They Come (1971), and Bury Me an Angel (1971).

As the trend began to lose momentum, filmmakers started to create horror hybrids such as Werewolves on Wheels (1971) and Blood Freak (1972). The British horror film Psychomania (1971) involves a biker gang that makes a pact with the devil to obtain immortality.

Black motorcycle gangs appeared in a few blaxploitation films such as The Black Angels (1970) and The Black Six (1974).

The biker gang ethos also featured strongly in the famed low budget Australian production Mad Max (1979, dir. George Miller, starring Mel Gibson), with the film spawning the real-life subculture of survival bikes.

By the late 1980s, the once shocking and controversial genre became an object of campy humor in horror-comedies such as Chopper Chicks in Zombietown (1989), I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle (1990), and Biker Zombies (2001).

Beyond the Law (1992) is based on a true story and centers on Dan Saxon (Charlie Sheen), an undercover cop who infiltrates a group of criminal outlaw bikers. Larry Ferguson wrote the screenplay after reading the article "Undercover Angel" by Lawrence Linderman in the July, 1981 issue of Playboy on an undercover agent named Dan Black.

2003 film Biker Boyz, starring Laurence Fishburne and Djimon Hounsou, depicts illegal bike racing gangs, although neither are criminals.

2004 film Torque, which features Adam Scott, Martin Henderson and Ice Cube, is about a biker who is faced by a rival gang leader for taking his bikes (which carry drugs), and is then framed for the murder of a member of a third gang.

Quentin Tarantino served as executive producer on Hell Ride (2008) starring Dennis Hopper and Michael Madsen. This is an homage to the motorcycle gang films of the past. It was written and directed by Larry Bishop, who acted in a number of biker films such as The Savage Seven (1968). Tarantino is a noted fan of the Australian biker movie, Stone (1974).[2]

Sons of Anarchy (2008-2014) is an American television drama series about a California motorcycle club. The series premiered on September 3, 2008, on cable network FX.

The documentary Biker Mania (2009) includes a compilation of theater trailers and footage that tracks the history of the genre from the 1950s to the present.

Edward Winterhalder is the subject of a feature-length documentary movie about the outlaw biker lifestyle that is being filmed in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Dubai.[3]

Cultural references and parodies

After the release of The Wild One (1953), the image of the motorcycle gang, particularly the Marlon Brando character, inspired many imitators and satires in films and television shows.



  • The girl group The Shangri-Las scored a Number #1 hit single with their motorcycle gang pop song "Leader of the Pack" (1964).
  • "Blue's Theme", an instrumental rock song that opens with the sound of a motorcycle engine, was featured on the soundtrack for The Wild Angels film. The song, written by Davie Allan and The Arrows, was a hit single in 1967.


  • The Beverly Hillbillies ("The Clampetts Go Hollywood", 1963), inspired by The Wild One, Jethro gets a motorcycle and imitates Marlon Brando's mannerisms and biker outfit.
  • The Twilight Zone ("Black Leather Jackets", 1964), a group of aliens disguised as a motorcycle gang takes up residence in a small American town.
  • The Addams Family ("The Addams Family Meets a Beatnik", 1965), a runaway rebel crashes his motorcycle in front of the Addams' house and stays with the family for a few days. Their non-judgmental acceptance of him leads to his reuniting with his estranged father.
  • The Munsters ("Hot Rod Herman", 1965), drag-race story in which Herman dons a leather biker jacket and accessories and does a comedic impression of Brando from The Wild One.
  • I Spy ("Trial by Treehouse", 1966), Kelley Robinson (Robert Culp) goes undercover as a Brando-esque leader of a motorcycle gang. Culp wears the same type of hat, sunglasses, and leather outfit and affects some of Brando's mannerisms.
  • Lost In Space ("Collision of the Planets", 1967), the Robinsons contend with a gang of unruly interplanetary space bikers led by Daniel J. Travanti.
  • Get Smart ("The Mild Ones", 1967), a genre parody featuring The Purple Knights, a literate biker gang who see themselves as modern Arthurian knights. Max and 99 must pass as new gang members to rescue a kidnapped prime minister.
  • The Monkees ("The Wild Monkees", 1967), the guys pretend to be a biker gang to impress four tough female motorcyclists. Trouble ensues when the girls' boyfriends arrive, the Black Angels biker gang.
  • The Mod Squad ("A Town Called Sincere", 2:17, 1970), Pete and Linc stumble upon a motorcycle gang terrorizing a small Mexican town.
  • The Partridge Family ("A Man Called Snake", 1971), Laurie Partridge briefly dates Snake (Rob Reiner), a gruff but surprisingly sensitive member of The Rogues biker gang. In the 1972 episode "A Penny for His Thoughts", Snake (now played by Stuart Margolin) makes a return appearance.
  • The Mod Squad ("The Thundermakers", 5:2, 1972), A youth joins a motorcycle gang that plans to pull off a robbery of his father's company.
  • Mannix ("A Way to Dusty Death", 7:2, 1973), Mannix is hired to find a missing teenager who gets mixed up with a motorcycle gang.
  • Saturday Night Live (Feb. 14, 1976), John Belushi and guest host Peter Boyle both dress up as Brando from The Wild One for a "Dueling Brandos" parody sketch.
  • Saturday Night Live (Nov. 18, 1978), guest host Carrie Fisher was featured in a beach movie parody skit ("Beach Blanket Bimbo from Outer Space") in which John Belushi played Harvey Lembeck's leather-clad Eric Von Zipper character.
  • The Rockford Files ("The Return of the Black Shadow", 1979), straightforward drama pays homage to classic '60s biker films.
  • CHiPs ("Satan's Angels", 4:7, 1980), Officer Bonnie Clark is kidnapped by a biker gang.
  • Saturday Night Live (February 20, 1982), guest host and biker film veteran Bruce Dern appears in the parody sketch "The Mild One". He plays a thoughtful, Zen-inspired leader of a biker gang who uses philosophy instead of violence to terrorize people in a diner.
  • T.J. Hooker ("Hooker's War", 1982), police officer Hooker pursues a motorcycle gang dealing in illegal guns.
  • Miami Vice ("Viking Bikers from Hell" (1987), revenge story about a violent biker gang.

See also


  1. ^ Syder, Andrew. "Ripped from Today's Headlines: The Outlaw Biker Movie Cycle". Scope. Archived from the original on 2006-08-30. Retrieved 2008-01-26.
  2. ^ http://www.takethetripagain.com/release003.html
  3. ^ "Shovelhead Road: Author Edward Winterhalder Shooting Outlaw Bikers Documentary". aimag.com. Retrieved 2016-11-05.
Black Angels

Black Angels may refer to:

Black Angels (Crumb), a 1970 composition for string quartet by George Crumb

Black Angels (album), a 1990 album by Kronos Quartet, featuring Crumb's composition

The Black Angels (band), an American rock band

The Black Angels (EP), a 2005 EP

The Black Angels, a 1926 novel by Maud Hart Lovelace

The Black Angels, a 1970 outlaw biker film

Brussels Black Angels, a Belgian Football League team

Los Ángeles Negros, a Latin pop group

Devil's Angels

Devil's Angels (also known as The Checkered Flag) is a 1967 American outlaw biker film written by Charles B. Griffith and directed by Daniel Haller. It stars John Cassavetes.

Easy Wheels

Easy Wheels is a 1989 American film written by Ivan Raimi and his brother Sam Raimi, and directed by David O'Malley. It was produced between Evil Dead II and Darkman, and released in 1989.The story is a satire of the outlaw biker film genre. It follows two biker gangs, one male and one female.

The male biker gang are the "Born Losers". They are good guys with three missions in life: Find the evil, Destroy the evil, and find a really great lite beer. Their leader, played by Paul LeMat, has visions because of a steel plate in his head. He is being studied by one of his fellow bikers from MIT.

The female biker gang are the "Women of the Wolf". Their leader, played by Eileen Davidson, was abandoned by her parents and raised by wolves. She plans to create a new generation of fearless independent women by kidnapping baby girls and taking them to the woods to be raised by wolves. Male babies are sold on the black market.

In the inevitable clash, the leader of the "Woman of the Wolf" must choose between the attraction she feels for the leader of the Born Losers, and the culmination of her allegedly feminist ideals.Mark Holton also appeared in the movie.

Hell's Angels '69

Hell's Angels '69 is a 1969 Outlaw biker film directed by Lee Madden and Conny Van Dyke. The film stars Tom Stern, Jeremy Slate, Conny Van Dyke, and Steve Sandor.

Hell Ride

Hell Ride is a 2008 American action/neo-outlaw biker film written and directed by Larry Bishop and starring Bishop, Michael Madsen, Dennis Hopper, Eric Balfour, Vinnie Jones, Leonor Varela and David Carradine. It was released under the "Quentin Tarantino Presents" banner. The film is an homage to the original outlaw biker films of the 1960s and 1970s.

Naked Angels

Naked Angels is a 1969 outlaw biker film, directed by Bruce D. Clark. Starring Michael Greene as Mother, Jennifer Gan as Marlene and Richard Rust as Fingers. Later documentary director Penelope Spheeris is a cast member in her first appearance as an actress. Actor Corey Fischer also appears in the cast.

The distributor of this film, called Favorite Films, started out in business in 1913 during the era of silent movies. They distributed 160 films in the USA. Naked Angels was the last film distributed by Favorite Films.

Northville Cemetery Massacre

Northville Cemetery Massacre is a 1976 outlaw biker film written and directed by William Dear and Thomas L. Dyke. Nick Nolte did an uncredited voice over for the film's lead actor, David Hyry.

Satan's Sadists

Satan's Sadists is a 1969 American outlaw biker film directed by Al Adamson and starring Russ Tamblyn.

Steve Sandor

Steve Sandor (born October 27, 1937 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, died April 5, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada) was an actor who made his first television appearance on Star Trek, playing Lars in the second season episode "The Gamesters of Triskelion".Before becoming an actor, Sandor grew up in the Greenfield neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Employed as a steel worker before his acting career, he also used to train sentry dogs while serving as an Air Police Officer in the U.S. Air Force.Having appeared in many television shows such as Gunsmoke, Ironside, The Streets of San Francisco, Starsky and Hutch, CHiPs, Charlie's Angels, Fantasy Island, Three's Company, The A-Team, Knight Rider, and Hardcastle and McCormick, he is perhaps best known for his role as the ill-fated biker gang leader Stanley in the 1980 cult film The Ninth Configuration, and as the voice of the heroic Darkwolf in the 1983 animated fantasy film Fire and Ice.

Sandor also had supporting roles in the 1967 western Rough Night in Jericho, the 1968 crime drama If He Hollers, Let Him Go!, the 1969 World War II classic The Bridge at Remagen, the 1969 outlaw biker film Hell's Angels '69, the 1971 western One More Train to Rob, the 1973 crime drama Bonnie's Kids, the 1973 Vietnam film The No Mercy Man, a semi-regular role on the short-lived TV series The Yellow Rose, and the title role in the 1983 science fiction film Stryker. Sandor was also part of the extensive cast of the epic 1978 TV mini-series Centennial. He was also cast in the 1988 IMAX film Alamo: The Price of Freedom as the legendary Jim Bowie.

The Black Six

The Black Six (1974) is an American blaxploitation and outlaw biker film released in 1974. The movie was written by George Theakos and directed by Matt Cimber. It starred several National Football League stars in the title roles. The plot had some similarities to The Magnificent Seven and Easy Rider. It was one of the first all-black biker films.

The Glory Stompers

The Glory Stompers is a 1967 outlaw biker film.

The Hellcats

The Hellcats, also known as Biker Babes, is a 1968 outlaw biker film starring Ross Hagen and directed by Robert F. Slatzer. It was featured on the television series Mystery Science Theater 3000.

The Mini-Skirt Mob

The Mini-Skirt Mob is a 1968 outlaw biker film about an all-female motorcycle gang. The film was directed by Maury Dexter, and stars Diane McBain, Jeremy Slate, Sherry Jackson, Patty McCormack, Harry Dean Stanton and Sandra Marshall.

The Rebel Rousers

Rebel Rousers is a 1970 American independent outlaw biker film starring Cameron Mitchell, Jack Nicholson, Diane Ladd, Bruce Dern, and Harry Dean Stanton. Filmed in 1967, but held back for release until 1970, this is one of several motorcycle gang films of the period to feature Nicholson, Dern, and Stanton.

The Savage Seven

The Savage Seven is a 1968 exploitation film (in the outlaw biker film subgenre) directed by Richard Rush. The film marks the screen acting debut of Penny Marshall. Rush says he agreed to the do the film as a sort of sequel to Hells Angels on Wheels in exchange for being able to make Haight-Ashbury film Psych-Out.

The Wild Angels

The Wild Angels is a 1966 American outlaw biker film produced and directed by Roger Corman. Made on location in Southern California, The Wild Angels was the first film to associate actor Peter Fonda with Harley-Davidson motorcycles and 1960s counterculture. It was also inspired the biker film genre that continued into the early 1970s.

The Wild Angels, released by American International Pictures (AIP), stars Fonda as the fictitious Hell's Angels San Pedro, California chapter president "Heavenly Blues" (or "Blues"), Nancy Sinatra as his girlfriend "Mike", Bruce Dern as doomed fellow outlaw "the Loser", and Dern's real-life wife Diane Ladd as the Loser's on-screen wife, "Gaysh".

Small supporting roles are played by Michael J. Pollard and Gayle Hunnicutt and, according to literature promoting the film, members of the Hell's Angels from Venice, California. Members of the Coffin Cheaters motorcycle club also appeared.

In 1967 AIP followed this film with Devil's Angels, The Glory Stompers with Dennis Hopper, and The Born Losers.

The Wild One

The Wild One is a 1953 American film directed by László Benedek and produced by Stanley Kramer. It is most noted for the character of Johnny Strabler (Marlon Brando), whose persona became a cultural icon of the 1950s. The Wild One is considered to be the original outlaw biker film, and the first to examine American outlaw motorcycle gang violence.The film's screenplay was based on Frank Rooney's short story "The Cyclists' Raid", published in the January 1951 Harper's Magazine and anthologized in The Best American Short Stories 1952. Rooney's story was inspired by sensationalistic media coverage of an American Motorcyclist Association motorcycle rally that got out of hand on the Fourth of July weekend in 1947 in Hollister, California. The overcrowding, drinking and street stunting were given national attention in the July 21, 1947, issue of Life, with a staged photograph of a wild drunken man on a motorcycle. The events, conflated with the newspaper and magazine reports, Rooney's short story, and the film The Wild One are part of the legend of the Hollister riot.

Werewolves on Wheels

Werewolves on Wheels is a 1971 American exploitation film directed by Michel Levesque and starring Stephen Oliver, D.J. Anderson, and Deuce Barry. It blends two genres: the outlaw biker film and the traditional horror film.

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