Pink Angels, The (1971)

Twenty minutes down. I thought, “A gay biker film that shoots it far too straight. Go figure.”

But that was before I experienced the ending.

With the release of The Psychopath in 1975, director Larry G. Brown cemented his stature as a very good (and possibly insane) egg. Powerfully unnerving, the film was a deranged socio-trash delight, touching upon most every term of endearment that exists in bizarre slasher cinema. A further exploration of Brown’s filmography was necessitated. Enter The Pink Angels.

Driving-on-the-road padding. Anti-authority cynicism. Partying scenes. Yep, The Pink Angels has everything you’d expect from a film produced at the the tail-end of the 1960s biker surge. By my watch, that’s code for BIG TIME SNOOZE. However, like fellow 1971’er Werewolves on Wheels, Angels has a catch, and it’s a hefty one: The Pink Angels are homosexuals. So instead of molesting women and knifing Fat Sheriffs, these guys have food fights. They partake of candlelit lunches in the woods. And, they would rather pull pranks involving eye make-up and hair ribbons than engage in a gang fight. This is all played for laughs, including their pilgrimage to a drag ball. I think. Strange? Sure. Funny? Not so much. Good? Wait for the ending.

Aside from a dreamy prologue, which somehow conjures vintage Robert Altman with its foggy compositions, moaning cellos, and marching band bursts, The Pink Angels is slick and monotonous. Unfortunately, that’s not what I want from Larry G. Brown. The Psychopath was a concerted blast of junky, 1970s angst, both from a technical and narrative standpoint. It was bold. It was earnest. It left a mark on your brain. By comparison, Pink is merely unexceptional. It’s an anomaly for sure, but still unexceptional. The assured yet lifeless photography. The lame Mike Nesmith-lite soundtrack. The coulda-been hilarious USA ribbing. The hot-dog-as-penis innuendos. I viewed, and I lamented.

So why even bother writing about this film?

Watch minutes 80-81. If you aren’t thrown across the room in a typhoon of disbelief, disavow your faith in the witchery of cheap ‘n’ obscure filmmaking. Then, go watch Road of Death. And be reborn.

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