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  Glory Stompers, The Spaced Hopper
Year: 1967
Director: Anthony M. Lanza
Stars: Dennis Hopper, Jody McCrea, Chris Noel, Jock Mahoney, Robert Tessier, Tony Acone, Sandra Bettin, Ed Cook, Lindsay Crosby, Peter Fain, Casey Kasem, Paul Prokop, Al Quick, Jim Reader, Astrid Warner, Gary Wood
Genre: Drama, Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Chino (Dennis Hopper) is the leader of The Black Souls, a biker gang who are just out to have a good time, and ceaseless in their search for it. So it is today that they gatecrash an open air party held by another gang, The Glory Stompers, who are long established and led now by Darryl (Jody McCrea) whose girlfriend Chris (Chris Noel) is trying to get him to give up the life on the road and settle down. He resists her pleas for the moment, distracted by the Souls who are allowed to stay if they don't cause any trouble - but trouble is their middle name.

When the Western genre began to wind down thanks to changes in public tastes, examples from Europe were popular but for the United States where they had all began variations started to spring up, and one of those was the biker flick. Once Roger Corman's uncompromising The Wild Angels was a hit, all the low budget outfits wanted to get in on the act therefore studios like A.I.P. made them their stock in trade, and even those movies which didn't have an overt biker theme nevertheless had much of that outlaw spirit, not to mention the sundrenched Californian countryside to set their stories in. That was the case here with The Glory Stompers, which in spite of the name was more concerned with The Black Souls.

What happens is that it's really only one Stomper who we follow, as Darryl is out with Chris for a heart to heart when the Souls appear and begin to taunt them. Darryl is indignant, but one thing leads to another and soon he is lying dead in the dust, and Chino works out that he will either have to kill the only witness Chris or take her with them, and chooses the second option, promising to his captive that she'll be fine though she remains to be convinced. This is followed by a harebrained scheme to take Chris to Mexico where she can be sold to some men Chino knows there, which might get her out of the way but is hardly a well thought through solution, and she doesn't have much of a say in the matter.

But what's this? Darryl isn't dead after all! Nope, he revives remarkably fit and ready for action considering his near-death state mere minutes before, and teams up with an ex-Glory Stomper called Smiley (stuntman and former Tarzan Jock Mahoney, looking his age by this point) to track down Chino and his unlovely mob. You could, if you squinted, see this as a biker version of The Searchers, but it was more generic in its appropriations from the Western, though the essential plot was fairly similar: manly man tries to get back a woman who has been kidnapped by savages, and as it turns out they're not all bad, as Chino has a nice brother Paul (Jim Reader) who is forever untying her after she has been bound by the gang members for the umpteenth time.

Among that gang was a soon to be very familar face in the movie tough guy stakes, Robert Tessier, though here it might take a while to recognise him because he sported a mane of hair. Also there, making his movie debut, was another somewhat less tough guy of radio legend and voice of Shaggy in Scooby-Doo Casey Kasem, one of Bing Crosby's sons and a plethora of women parading through the drama, often in their underwear and covered in body paint designs. Hedonism was the order of the day here, and naturally such intense pleasure seeking comes at a price, so every time there's something approaching a drink-fuelled orgy a brawl breaks out. As for Hopper, he was approaching his wilderness years with likewise abandon, though in this case was warming up for Easy Rider (man) yet here he is a lot more aggressive, and also suspiciously absent from the action for lengthy stretches. He does get to prove himself for the grand finale when Darryl catches up with The Black Souls. The soundtrack really needed the arrival of heavy rock, mind you.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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