31 Days Of Hell: Werewolves on Wheels (1971) - Reviewed

Werewolves on Wheels. The name alone sounds like the title of a long lost Halloween story written by Dr. Seuss. In reality, it is a story about a biker gang who offends the Church of Satan, and are cursed by the Prince of Darkness as a result. It may sound ridiculous, but from the outside it's actually pretty awesome considering its originality. Released in 1971, this film lives up its low budget namesake, but it only takes a minute to realize something doesn't add up. This film is shot and pieced together with a continuity reserved for more regarded films. Opening with a long montage of motorcycles driving through the country, it's apparent the editing and cinematography are above average for such a caliber of film. Cinematographer Isidore Mankosky only had a few credits to his name at the time of Werewolves' production. Afterwords he would go on to work on films such as Somewhere In Time, Carrie, and the horror classic The Muppet Movie. Credit also goes to Peter Parasheles for piecing this film together. He would move on to an impressive twenty year career in the television industry.

I wish I could say this movie kicks ass. The concept has all the makings of a radical horror feature. It starts off well, doing a good job of highlighting the freedom of the biker lifestyle. Another psychedelic voodoo montage deserves mentioning: fueled by a '60s rock jam, it provokes some elements of Fear and Loathing as one of female bikers beckons to the fiery calls of Satan! In fact, a good quarter of this film is made up of montages and biker shenanigans. The story is told well as the self made family of outlaws contemplate their future during moments of sobriety, wondering what kind of life can be achieved by staying true to the biker code. This authenticity was achieved by filming actual bikers. Without any formal acting or training, the bikers were filmed going about their daily lives. 

In some ways, portions of this film could be considered documentary/reality, although there is no mention of this in the credits. Where this film falters is in the last ten minutes. The story falls flat with a lackluster climax, and then the credits roll. The horror elements are minimal, and the werewolf story line gets about five minutes of screen time. It is a considerable let down for a movie that was well put together and filmed. With a great story and epic poster, Werewolves on Wheels leaves viewers wishing what could have been. Had it been a bad from the start, the ending wouldn’t have been so disappointing. With the success of shows like Sons of Anarchy and Mayans, this film would make the perfect candidate for the modern day horror remake hype train. Something better than the obviously ripped off story line in True Blood. The originality of this tale has that much potential.

--Lee L. Lind