The Pink Angels is the notoriously weird movie about a gay biker gang. Despite the many sites that claim this was a 1976 movie it was actually first released in 1971, during the biker movie craze started by Roger Corman’s Hell’s Angels flicks. This is not a gay-bashing film. Instead, it’s in the tradition of the many “anti-establishment” films from back then with the gay bikers presented in a sympathetic way and the “straights” as the heavies.
Fans of bad movies will recognize many of the faces – John Alderman, from Black Godfather, Trader Hornee and countless other bizarre films, is the leader of the Pink Angels. Tom Basham, who played the mass-murdering kiddie show host Mr Rabbey in Psychopath (reviewed previously on my Bad Movie Page) portrays one of the Angels, as does the Oliver Hardy look-alike who played the hardware store owner in that same film. Michael Pataki, whom everyone remembers as J.C. in the biker movie Sidehackers (“I was like a brother to hiiiiiiiiim!”) leads a gang of straight bikers (who coincidentally enough are referred to as Sidehackers by the Pink Angels) who clash with our heroes. Dan Haggerty, television’s Grizzly Freaking Adams, is a member of Pataki’s biker gang. To be fair, this was not the only biker flick that Haggerty appeared in.
This movie is so comparatively well-known that I considered not reviewing it, but it’s one of my favorite weirdass wonders so I went with it. Part of the fun for bad movie geeks is that this film is an example of the many, many cinematic turkeys that were cobbled together from unfinished footage from another film project and fleshed out with scenes filmed later and featuring actors who, for obvious reasons, can never interact with the characters from the earlier footage. It’s always hilarious to see the awkward editing and other game attempts the filmmakers put forth to pretend it’s all part of one and the same movie. (They Saved Hitler’s Brain and Monster A Go-Go are just two of the many hybrid turkeys pieced together in this way)
The REAL part of the movie consists of the Pink Angels riding their motorcycles from northern California to Los Angeles to participate in the Cotillion Ball, which we are told is a big drag event. Along the way they have a bizarre food fight at a diner, leer at a male hitch-hiker (who obliviously initiates some jealous cat-fighting among the Angels) get hassled by “the Man” in the form of the police, pointlessly harass some elderly women at a grocery store and have a tense encounter with Pataki and Haggerty’s gang of sidehackers.
This starts out as a tense encounter because both biker gangs want to use the same picnic spot (yes, I just typed the words “both biker gangs want to use the same picnic spot”) Violence is averted when the Pink Angels, trying to pass themselves off as straight, go back and bring along the grocery store ladies plus a few prostitutes (Were they in the “sundries” aisle?) to party with Pataki’s gang.
This joyously weird and prolonged episode contains one of my favorite lines of dialogue from this movie. While nature takes its course with the ladies and the bikers (in sex scenes so weird they would have been cut from a Russ Meyer film) one of the straight bikers pitches woo by telling his “date” to “Get ready for ten pounds of dangling fury!” Why that line did not replace “Hey, baby, what’s your sign?” as THE pickup line of the 1970′s is beyond me. (By the way, “Ten Pounds Of Dangling Fury” was my nickname in high school. I’m kidding!)
Anyway, after the straight bikers pass out after boozing it up and oinking and boinking, the Pink Angels get the ladies to safety and then put makeup all over the faces of the zonked-out bikers. They also put pink ribbons in their hair (and you haven’t lived until you’ve seen Dan Haggerty with makeup and pink hair ribbons). When Pataki and company wake up, they are infuriated and vow to find and kill the long-departed Pink Angels
The FAKE movie, or, better put, the linking footage filmed without benefit of the actual cast members, involves a wacked-out right wing general and his secretary. The general drones on and on about the threat posed to the United States by creeping communism and cultural decay like drugs, promiscuity and homosexuality. As the movie periodically returns to the general’s office we begin to realize that the Cotillion Ball is really a trap laid by the demented officer and his colleagues in order to lure a large group of homosexuals into their clutches to be killed. Typical of these splice jobs the tone and style of the filler footage is completely different from the original film, adding to the disjointed fun.
Other things to love in this film include: a) the very bizarre and very, VERY 70′s songs that are heard throughout the film, b) the bizarre visual images at the start of the film, with the Pink Angels posing and voguing around a bunch of industrial-sized piping. This footage is so damn odd it reminds you of the peculiar stock footage Ed Wood peppered throughout Glen or Glenda? c) the pontless way our “heroes” hassle just about every non-biker they encounter, especially service personnel. I guess even gay bikers are bullies and jerks in biker flicks and d) the typically abrupt way the “real” movie ends, with the “new” footage providing a hilariously slipshod ending.
At the Cotillion Ball, where our Pink Angels get dolled up in drag, Pataki and Haggerty’s bikers catch up with them and, not recognizing them in drag (?) try to pick them up. At the ball, most of the Angels toss off their wigs, revealing to a disgruntled crowd of “squares” and Pataki’s enraged bikers, that they are actually men (something you’d have to be incredibly high not to have noticed, but hey …).
What was really supposed to happen next will be forever left to our imaginations as the final piece of linking footage now takes over. The wacked-out general pretends to be interrogating one of the Pink Angels in his office, but the footage is so hilariously mismatched that viewers can easily tell the general and the Angel he is pretending to be talking to were never on the same set and, in fact, may never have even met in real life to this very day. We get a line of dialogue from the general, then we’re treated to awkwardly edited footage of one of the Angels saying a line that sort of approximates an answer, and so on and so forth.
It’s like a lot of old-time movie hosts would do when they would pretend to be interviewing characters in a movie they were showing. The host would ask a question and then a scene from the movie taken out of context would be spliced in to provide a comical reply.
Rapid cut to the exterior of a building that was CLEARLY not the one the Pink Angels and Pataki’s Punks entered. The loony general is standing outside, riding crop under his arm, looking for all the world like Graham Chapman’s buffoonish officer from old Monty Python episodes. He finishes up another speech about preventing homosexuals from corrupting America and the camera pulls away to reveal a bunch of obvious dummies and mannequins of various sizes, half wearing dresses and half wearing biker gear and ALL hanging from nooses.
Yep, we’re supposed to infer that “what happened next” was the trap of the general and his men was sprung, and the Angels and Pataki’s bikers were all hanged from tree branches. In the case of Pataki’s boys I guess because they were assumed to be gay, too, since they were escorting men in drag. Either that or the general considers dummies and mannequins to be an even bigger threat to the United States than creeping homosexuality.
But really, now, the dummies representing our hanged heroes and heavies are so lame they look like they belong in a Super Dave sketch. If you consider yourself to be a big fan of fringe cinema, The Pink Angels is a must-see movie. I’ll close on one little behind-the-scenes note: the biggest annoyance when writing this review was the way my rapidly typing fingers would sometimes place the “L” before the “E” in the word Angels, making it the Pink Angles instead. The Pink Angles would, of course, be a perfect title for a movie about a gang of gay geometrists. (I’m kidding!)
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