The year before Easy Rider (1969) made history, Dennis Hopper appeared in the American International biker flick The Glory Stompers (1967). It is a classic piece of AIP (American International Pictures) exploitation, featuring topless women, lots of fighting, drug use, and no real plot to speak of. Maybe Hopper used it to hone his cinematic motorcycle-riding technique, or just to get stoned on set. In any case, The Glory Stompers fits right into the AIP biker movie mold, and holds its own against such greats as The Wild Angels (1966), The Born Losers (1967), and Devil’s Angels (1967). Of course none of those films featured Casey Kasem, who has a cameo as a character simply called Mouth. Kasem was one of the associate producers of The Glory Stompers, a credit he shares with future California Lieutenant Governor Mike Curb.
Chino (Dennis Hopper) is the leader of a motorcycle gang known as the Black Souls. They pull up to a party being held by the Glory Stompers, and Chino starts hitting on lead Stomper Darrell’s (Jody McRae) girlfriend Chris (Chris Noel). The Stompers kick them out, and the Black Souls are not at all happy about the situation. When they see Darrell and Chris riding off alone, they swing into action. After Darrell takes a crowbar to the head, Chino and the gang ride off with Chris, and leave him for dead. Chris was the only witness to the murder, so they feel obligated to take her with them. I love Chino’s explanation to Chris of what is happening:
”The only way out for me and my people is to either snuff you out or to sell you. There’s some high-class Mexicans across the border. Now being good people, we decided to sell you to these high-class Mexican friends of ours,” he tells her.
Hey, what’s a little white-slavery between friends, right? Besides, Chris should be thanking them for not killing her too. Meanwhile, it turns out that Darrell is not really dead after all. He gathers up a couple of other Stompers, and they head out to find the Black Souls and Chris. One thing about these AIP biker movies is that they all seem to have been shot in the same stretch of southern California desert. Director Anthony M. Lanza pads his film out considerably with lenghty scenes of the guys riding, scored to the cheesiest Mike Curb Congregation-style “rock” music ever.
Eventually the Glory Stompers meet up with the Black Souls, and the confrontation turns into a showdown between Chino and Darrell. Both get their licks in, then Chino’s “old lady” (who has been seething with jealousy all day) steps in. She throws her knife at Darrell, but hits Chino in the back of the neck, ending the brawl for good. The Glory Stompers ride off triumphant, with Chris only mildly tarnished from all the groping and pawing she suffered from the hands of the Black Souls. As for the high class Mexicans, I guess they will have to wait until next time for some fresh meat.
The Glory Stompers is exactly what you would expect from a 1967 AIP biker movie. It also had the curious distinction of being selected as part of the first annual Quentin Tarantino Film Festival, held in Austin, TX back in 1996. The newly released DVD is one of the latest in the MGM Limited Edition Collection series.
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