After Pulp Fiction came out in 1994, theaters and video stores were flooded with legions of Quentin Tarantino knockoffs, second-rate crime dramas with self-consciously hip dialogue, flashy camera work and half-baked storytelling tricks. Very few of them were any good. Now that Tarantino has moved on to exploring different genres with Kill Bill and Death Proof, journeyman B-movie actor (and Kill Bill bit player) Larry Bishop has come along to inaugurate a new wave of crappy Tarantino imitators with Hell Ride.
Tarantino actually lends his name (as executive producer and “presenter”) to this inept piece of intentional trash, which fails even at being a good bad movie. As writer, director and star of Hell Ride, Bishop proves himself inferior to his inspiration in all respects, with his incoherent script full of nonsensical dialogue that aches to be considered clever, his randomly flashy direction and his terrible, preening lead performance.
The movie follows the bloody feud between two rival biker gangs, with Bishop playing Pistolero, leader of the theoretically heroic Victors, alongside Tarantino favorite Madsen as Pistolero’s lieutenant The Gent and bland TV pretty boy Balfour as the mysterious Comanche, who’s stuck carrying what qualifies as a twist in this moronic excuse for a story.
Bishop is clearly concerned with style above all else, specifically synthesizing the same trashy exploitation influences that Tarantino usually transforms to great success. But where Tarantino takes genre clichés and turns them into ways to illuminate character or narrative, Bishop simply throws a bunch of biker-movie tropes on the screen and sits back. The movie is filled with naked, nubile female flesh and graphic violence, along with the kind of veteran cult actors (Dennis Hopper, Kill Bill’s David Carradine) that Tarantino loves to showcase. But Bishop doesn’t provide a purpose or structure for any of these elements, so instead of a commentary on or a deconstruction of sleaze, Hell Ride turns out to just be pure, unadulterated sleaze itself.