Angel Unchained (1970)

Genre: Biker Movie

After saving Pilot (Larry Bishop), the bike gang’s leader, during a brawl with a rival gang, fellow gang member, Angel (Don Stroud), announces his intentions to leave the gang and to head out on the road. Pilot tells him that he is indebted to Angel and if ever he needs a favour, to come back and ask.

Angel heads out across Arizona until he reaches a small town where he helps a hippie couple who are being harassed by the local rednecks. In gratitude, the couple take him back to their commune, which is a collection of small shacks out in the country.

Their life is very wholesome, with vegetarian food, farming and taking care of the babies.

Angels falls in love with Merrilee (future Cagney and Lacey star, Tyne Daly), but the commune's idyllic existence is soon ruined by the rednecks who arrive in dune buggies and proceed to harass them by driving over their crops.
Angel stabs one with a pitch fork and so the rednecks give the hippies an ultimatum of one week to go or else there will be trouble.

The commune’s leader Tremaine (Luke Askew; famous for being the stranger on the highway in Easy Rider (1969)) asks Angel if his old bike gang could come and help. Angel is reluctant to ask because the hippies wouldn’t be able to handle the lawlessness of the bike gang and tells them:

“If you bring a bike club here, you’re going to have a lot of trouble on you’re hands.”

After unsuccessfully trying to mediate with the rednecks, Angel eventually turns to his old bike gang for help.
Soon the bikers have moved into the commune and Tremaine and his fellow hippies struggle to stay patient with the antics of the bikers.
Soon it looks as though the bikers aren’t going to keep their promise of protection and instead want to leave, but first they want to take with them the resident old Indian’s ‘wammo’. This is a strong hallucinogenic drug of which he only knows the recipe.

As the bikers are about to leave, the hippie couple return. The man has been badly beaten by the rednecks and the girl has presumably been raped.

With the rednecks on their way, will the bikers change their minds and stay?

This is a good American International Pictures film. The story is an old one and has been tackled many times before in such films as The Seven Samurai (1954) and The Magnificent Seven (1960), but its fun to see it in this setting of bikers and rednecks.

The imposing Don Stroud is good as Angel. Tyne Daly is also good as Merrilee, although she doesn’t seem hippie enough to be living out in a commune. Luke Askew as the commune leader, Tremaine, is much more believable.
The bikers are all good – spitting out beer after every other swig and causing general mayhem. Bill McKinney is especially good as Shotgun. He argues with Angel over Merrilee as if she is a commodity to be bargained with. Larry Bishop, who plays the bike gang’s leader, would later write, direct and star in his own homage to biker movies, Hell Ride (2008).

This film was made with the help of bike gang, The Dirty Dozen of Arizona.

Angel Unchained has been released on DVD as a double-bill with another 1969 biker film, Cycle Savages.

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