DVD Review: Devil Riders / Cert: 18 / Director: Julian Higgins / Screenplay: Bertie Higgins, Julian Higgins, Larry Madill / Starring: Robert Thorne, Jasmine Waltz, Bertie Higgins / Release Date: Out Now
This low budget biker shocker kicks off with some nasty goings-on in a seedy motel, to a soundtrack of swamp rock, and for about five minutes it looks like it's not going to be too bad in a sleazy, Rob Zombie-ish kind of way. After that, though, the wheels come off.
The problem is the script, which starts off as mildly improbable and then becomes wildly incoherent, without ever managing to be interesting. Deciding to buy a couple of motorbikes as an antidote to their mid-life crisis, city slickers Allen (Rudometkin) and Robert (Higgins) strike a deal with Hell's Angel types Ray (Thorne) and Billy (Wisell) then, with wives Cheri (Waltz) and Susan (Hopkins) tagging along, meet up with them in the desert for a day of putting the pedal to the metal, followed by a night of whisky-drinking and pot-smoking.
Ray and Billy positively ooze menace – Ray crushes a rattlesnake under his boot for kicks, while Billy is like a cross between the baddie in Dirty Harry and the hillbillies in Deliverance – so it comes as no surprise when they molest and kidnap Cheri and Susan. From that point, though, things become downright mystifying. Promising to release their wives if they obey his orders, Ray sends Adam and Robert off on a bloody wild goose chase that involves murder and mutilation (oh, and if you're going to cut off someone's hands with an axe and shoot him dead, you might as well shoot him first and do the chippy-choppy thing second when he's stopped flailing about, don't you think?)
Why Ray wants this done is a riddle wrapped in mystery inside a whole load of bad dialogue. The screenplay trails several possible explanations – it could be he's a retiring white slaver rolling up his criminal empire with a flurry of lead handshakes, or maybe he's a warped psycho in the manner of Rutger Hauer in The Hitcher, but there are also hints that he might be some kind of satanic shaman. One thing's guaranteed: you'll soon be past caring.
Implausibilities of this nature would be forgivable if the story generated any heat, but it doesn't. Helmsman Julian Higgins co-wrote the script with his father Bertie Higgins, who also takes the role of Robert. You can't help wondering if making a horror movie with his dad had an inhibiting effect on the young director, because Devil Riders is surprisingly tame and uneventful for an 18-certificate DVD, with aeons passing between blood-lettings. It all ends with a random splurge of mysticism and a nonsense last-minute twist that will have you snorting in derision. If you see this one staring up at you from a bargain bin, hit the throttle and give it a swerve.
Special Features: None