Movie Name: Hell’s Belles
Studio: American International Pictures
Release Date(s): April 16, 1969
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Dan (Jeremy Slate) has won a prize motorcycle during a race, but a fellow racer names Tony (Michael Walker) feels he deserves the bike. Tony steals Dan’s motorcycle but the leader of a biker gang named Tampa (Adam Roarke) “swaps” him for the bike. Dan is determined to get his motorcycle back…and suddenly finds him teamed with Cathy (Jocelyn Lane) from the gang when Tampa “swaps” her for the bike. Tampa might have picked the wrong man to mess with.
Directed by Maury Dexter, Hell’s Belles is a motorcycle action movie. It was double billed with The Wild Eye (L’occhio selvaggio).
After the release of Easy Rider, motorcycle movies proved to be a popular genre at the theaters. Easy Rider had a lot of class and style, but many motor cycle movies were grindhouse style cheap films. Hell’s Belles falls into that category, but due to the story, it doesn’t necessary appear “cheap”.
Hell’s Belles suffers from the characters. It tries to make complex characters that show moments of kindness and fairness throughout the course of the movie, but instead of making them endearing, it just makes them not very likable. Dan is wronged, but he takes it too far. Tampa is “the bad guy”, but he occasionally does the right thing for his gang. Cathy shows pity for Tampa at the end, but in her pity she seems actually weaker…she should have just gotten a ride with Dan and sent for help.
The acting is rather average. No one is awful, but also no one excels. The actors combine with the script to miss some great opportunities. William Lucking as Gippo the “slow” guy of Tampa’s group should have been a touchpoint for the audience, but he isn’t written correctly to get any emotion from his death. The relationship with him and Tampa isn’t developed enough until after he dies. Gippo in this sense is like most of the characters.
The movie doesn’t look too bad. It is obviously cheap and the “special effects moments” like the avalanche and gas station fire obviously didn’t have a lot of money put into them. The movie was smartly shot in the desert and the do some nice uses of the expanse and open land.
Hell’s Belles isn’t the best movie, but it also is a nice fit in the biker niche. It isn’t quite down-and-dirty enough to feel like a grindhouse, but it also isn’t quality enough to feel like a non-B-Movie. Hell’s Belles could have benefited from being a soft-core skin flick to give it some teeth, but the movie instead feels middling as a biker pic.