Monday, May 4, 2009

The Pink Angels (1971)

What a strange movie we have here. Of course, that's the obvious description I guess. How else to describe a picture about a cross dressing, boy loving biker gang making their way up the California coast to L.A. so they can attend some sort of debutante ball, or at least that's what I thought the plot was. This is basically a remake of Easy Rider, only gay. Of course, there's nothing wrong with that.

I don't know man, but this one was pretty enjoyable. I mean, it's absolutely terrible, but it's terrible in a good way. If not for the title, we might actually think these guys are a straight biker gang, at first. Then again, there's nothing straight about those leather outfits or the fact that their bikes are equipped with sidecars. That's fine for a lady, but what else, except "little bitch", do you call the guy who rides in one? Just kidding, I would never call them that. All the non-gay characters in this movie might, but I like to think I'm a little more evolved. The movie opens with our gang picking up a hitchhiker who then runs for his life after they stop at an A&W and have a hot dog eating contest. I'm not sure what it meant when the poor fellow started running down some railroad tracks only to come face to face with a train, forcing him to run the other way. I think "train" is slang for something fairly unsavory in the opinion of that guy who apparently thought it acceptable to label the bikers a "bunch of faggots". He had it coming.

Like most road movies of the 70s, this one comes with a hippy soundtrack (songs you've never heard before) and many obstacles along the way; including a pair of armed-to-the-teeth cops, the hell's angels, and a war general who seems like he's in a completely different movie. The pink angels spend most of the movie trying to act straight so they don't get their asses kicked. They don't do a very good job of it. They stop at a bar and do everything they can to resist a cadre of hookers. Eventually, they stop to have a picnic with wine, tablecloth, candleabras, etc and the actual hell's angels swing by. Now, those guys are pretty straight we can tell since in their midst is none other than Dan Haggerty (real biker and also Grizzly Adams). Their leader, however, would have fit right in at the blue oyster (gay bar in Police Academy) and other like establishments. He was clearly not straight and probably not happy about it, which would explain his homophobia.

Basically, this picture is one damned episode after the other with each scene linked by lots of biking....and more biking on top of that. Every so often we cut to a scene of the general in his war room plotting the demise of bikers or some shit. Here is an example of how the movie flows. Pink angels biking for about ten minutes. Pink angels pulled over by Rambo cops. Cops search their bikes. Cops appalled to find brassieres, panties, and make up kits stowed away instead of the usual fire arms and narcotics. Cops call bikers "faggots". Cops drive away disgusted. Pink angels continue biking. Cut to scene of general sticking pins in a map while his voluptuous secretary looks on. Cut back to pink angels biking again. Cut to hell's angels biking, apparently in pursuit.

The main conflict of the picture is between the two kinds of angels. After the hell's angels interrupt the picnic, we think some sort of brawl is going to take place. The pink angels play straight though and offer the hells angels some booze. Pink angels playing straight is not even close to being straight. I mean, these guys wear fake beards, moustaches, and stuff like that. They lower their voices but they still can't help but prance around. One of the pink angels might even be a bit confused, and is shown making it with a hooker. Speaking of hookers, good times ensue as soon as they show up. The weirdest moment involves the lead hell's angel "banging" the lead hooker while the lead pink angel watches. The "banging" involves lots of fully clothed gyrating. The next morning, the pink angels apply make up to their passed out friends and tie ribbons in their hair which is not something hell's angels usually do. I'm not sure why you'd piss these guys off. I mean, they're pretty hardcore and shit; murder, drug running, hitting on drag queens, etc is their forte.

Then we have more biking, more shitty 70s style hippy music, more biking, some dress shopping, and a hilarious scene where two of the pink angels order room service. Lots of sexual innuendo and double entendres in this thing. They order a couple of "long, hard" drinks and the hotel sends up a naked server (female). She leaves the drinks and asks if they'd like anything else, anything they want. "no, just the drinks will be fine". We get it I think, these guys want their drinks. Also, gay.

Not sure who the audience is for this picture. Gay people, at the time, might be pretty appalled by the stereotypes on display. Also, why the need to play it straight? Today, they'd love it since it's sorta kitsch I guess. Straight people, at the time, were probably all anti-gay and shit. Today, they'd love it 'cause there's nudity and it's all pretty funny. Gay is funny. Flaming gay is incredibly funny. Not necessarily the opinion of this reviewer, more a societal observation.

Eventually, the hell's angels catch up to them but, by this point, the pink angels are dressed up in drag and, so, instead of kicking the shit out of them they proceed to hit on them. I didn't see them drinking before hitting the hotel bar, but it's pretty clear that beer goggles are in full effect. I don't think the director had any idea about what kind of picture to make, or even how to make a picture, in the first place. I mean, I found the movie to be hilarious, but it was all unintentional. I never understood the point of the general since he doesn't encounter the angels until the end. I had no idea how they even ended up at his compound? The hell's angels bring the "gals" (in full drag) there, but why? Were they working with him? I don't think so. The general interrogates one of the "girls" and is appalled when "she" takes off "her" wig and reveals "herself" to be a he. Of course, like all non-pink angels in this thing, the next word out of his mouth is "faggot". I guess that is worse than being a hell's angel in his opinion. Then the camera pans across a tree in the front of the compound and hanging from it are all the angels, hells and pink, as a somber 70s hippy song about individualism and stuff plays. Finally, the angels were able to find some common ground I think, but more likely the hells were hanged for being "faggot sympathizers". I don't know if this movie is making a statement against mccarthyism, or just right wing nuttism in general. Like I said, it's pretty weird. Weird, yet strangely enjoyable.


F-Stop said...

I can't even begin to imagine this movie. What possessed you to watch it/buy it? Where'd you hear about it?

brian said...

I have a drive-in cult classics set that comes with 8 films. This was one of them. It only cost me ten bucks.