‘Hell Ride’ Blu-ray Review
Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez have brought the ‘Grindhouse’ back into the full swing here in the 2000’s. This is showing of double feature films at the theater. ‘Grindhouse’ was popular for the different genres of film such as horror, kung fu, and sexploitation to mention a few back in the 1970’s. In 2008, we get the release of director Larry Bishop’s ‘Hell Ride’ on DVD and Blu-ray. The film falls under the ‘Quentin Tarantino Presents’ umbrella of films as he is the Executive Producer on these films. With the help of Tarantino, Bishop wrote, directed, and stared in this ode to 1960’s biker films.
The story of ‘Hell Ride’ begins with the grizzly murder of Cherokee Kisum (Julia Jones) back on July 4, 1976. Not only does the woman get her throat slashed, but she also gets gasoline poured on her and then started on fire. We fast forward 30 years later with leader Pistolero (Larry Bishop) of the gang, Victors cruising the Southwestern roads on their bikes. The Victors are made of Pistolero, The Gent (Michael Madsen), and Comanche (Eric Balfour). They have revenge on their mind as Pistolero wants to avenge Cherokee’s death.
The Victors also have to worry about the Six-Six-Six gang, whom their leader is Billy Wings (Vinnie Jones). Wings is a not so nice guy and some of the things he has done to his victims. Also add in Eddie Zero (Dennis Hopper) who is here to pay homage to his old days as a biker rider in films like ‘Easy Rider’. We also get an appearance from The Deuce (David Carradine) in this film. This all adds tons of twists and turns in this film between characters you think are the villains and the ones we think are the heroes. Also each one of Pistolero’s biker members will be put to a test of their allegiance to the Victors.
This film has a lot of sex, female frontal nudity, nymphomaniacs, and brutal and gruesome death scenes. Bishop takes these themes way too far and over the top which isn’t what I was expecting here with ‘Hell Ride’. While the nudity is a nice diversion to the story, it takes away from what could have been a descent story. Bishop’s intentions to make a film about bare breasts and booty is the central focus. Things get worse when even Michael Madsen looks a bit bored with his role and is lacking that spunk that he brings in his roles. This is one of the faults with the film where the story is lacking; a star studded cast also fails on a few levels.
The print is presented in 1080p/AVC-1 with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. After viewing both the DVD and Blu-ray versions of ‘Hell Ride’, I will have to give the nod to the Blu-ray version. I found colors to be a bit more vibrant than the DVD, but there was still that softer color pallete which almost looks like a film filter. Like all Weinstein films, yellows and reds were more prevalent in the print. It appears that in many of their films they like to use this yellow tint filter. Details are very good and the film does still retain that dirty ‘Grindhouse’ look and feel to give that grungy feeling of the 70’s.
The audio is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix. I found the TrueHD to help out the presentation on Blu-ray over the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. The surrounds were much more active and the rears had much clearer sound effects from the guns, motorcycles, and soundtrack. Dialogue also benefited a bit over the DD5.1 mix as the voices were much louder and clearer through the center channel. With the upgrade to Dolby TrueHD and 1080p, it helped make this a better visual and audio experience over the DVD.
‘Hell Ride’ offers a plethora of special features and the audio commentary with Kevan and Bishop is rather interesting even though the film is lacking in the story department. The only special feature in high definition is the Red Band trailer.
- Audio commentary with cinematographer Scott Kevan and writer/director/star Larry Bishop
- The Making of ‘Hell Ride
- The Babes of ‘Hell Ride
- The Guys of ‘Hell Ride
- The Choppers of ‘Hell Ride
- Michael Madsen’s Video Diaries
- Red Band Theatrical Trailer
Even with the better audio and visual quality of the Blu-ray over the DVD, I recommend ‘Hell Ride’ as a popcorn rental on a Saturday afternoon if you are looking to kill time. The film is the best of ‘Tarantino’ actors mixed in with a lack of story while the ‘Grindhouse’ feel takes its place. It is one of those films that will get mixed reactions. I am a little baffled as to how this film fits under the ‘Dimension Extreme’ umbrella since usually it is a branding for Weinstein/Genius horror films. Please Larry Bishop, stay away from directing and screenwriting because both of these just don’t work out for you.
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