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Peter’s Retro Reviews: Hi-Riders (1978)

Hi-Riders movie posterby Peter Nielsen

”Here come the Hi-Riders… And there goes your woman! Your Car! Your life!”

In 2014, during Spooky Flix Fest, I reviewed the sci-fi/horror movie Without Warning which is directed by Greydon Clark. While looking through his filmography for that review, I came across a title that kind of jogged a memory buried in my brain. It was the movie Hi-Riders, and the memory that popped up was the movie’s Swedish tagline, weirdly enough.

I seem to remember me drawing some sort of mini movie poster for the movie, and then putting the tagline on it… or maybe I just wrote the tagline in a kind of graffiti-like manner… Hell, I can’t remember exactly! I think I actually still have it lying around in a box somewhere in the attic.

Always partying!

Always partying!

Anyway, that memory made me want to seek this movie out again, because I remembered nothing about it, other than the fact that I’ve seen it at one point. I didn’t have high hopes of actually finding it, but lo and behold… it was released on DVD in 2010 paired with another Greydon Clark movie… The Bad Bunch (also known as Tom), and that brings us to today!

The movie opens with a dedication to Vic Rivers, the movie’s stunt coordinator, who tragically lost his life during the filming of Hi-Riders. On the DVD extras there are interviews with both the director, as well as with two of the lead actors, and they talk a little bit about this. It was a tragic accident, during a stunt that went wrong, which no one could have foreseen. After talking with family and friends, and them saying it was ok, it was decided to keep the scene in the movie.

The main characters, Mark and Lynn, are played by Darby Hinton, known from Firecracker and the old TV show Daniel Boone, for instance, and Diane Peterson. She didn’t really have much of an acting career, but instead went on to become a successful stunt woman. She has worked on movies such as Titanic, The Bachelor Party and Colors, to name a few. She’s a skilled stunt driver and did a lot of the driving in Hi-Riders.

Always racing!

Always racing!

The plot for this movie is fairly simple, and nothing spectacular happens for the first 40 – 45 minutes… Mark and Lynn arrive in town in their Firebird, basically looking to make some cash racing against other cars. They run into the Hi-Riders and have a race against Billy, who’s a sore loser and drives off without paying his debt. The next day, while getting gas for their car, Mark and Lynn spot him driving by and follow him to an old abandoned western movie-set, where they demand their money back.

The Law in town!

The Law in town!

The movie-set is also the “head quarters” for the Hi-Riders, so the young couple soon find themselves surrounded by people calling them outsiders, who’s word means jack-shit in Hi-Rider territory. None of them believe that Billy lost the race, so they do it again and he, of course, loses one more time… but there’s STILL a couple who believe Billy won! Yeah, the Hi-Riders aren’t the brightest bunch of drivers who’s ever roamed the roads! Except for their leader, T.J., who’s one of the “good guys”, so to speak! He’s played by Wm. J. Beaudine and this is the only movie he ever appeared in, as far as I know.

I stated before that nothing much happens in the first half of the movie… except for a lot of driving around, partying and getting laid! It’s not until they stop at a bar in a small town, that things kind of goes bad and the action perks up. While they’re partying away, the son of the wealthy Mr. Lewis (Stephen McNally), challenges them for a race and Billy accepts. During the race, he’s up to his usual cheating ways and everything goes horribly wrong. There’s a huge explosion which kills everyone in both cars and this is where it turns nasty.

Outside the bar with the Hi-Riders!

Outside the bar with the Hi-Riders!

Mr. Lewis is, of course, none too happy about this and orders his men to take care of the ones he deems responsible for his son’s death. And now the Hi-Riders have to run for their lives, because Mr. Lewis wants to see them dead… ALL of them!

Now, this is not the best movie I’ve ever seen, but there’s something about it… some… thing… that kind of makes it work anyway, because I was never bored watching it. The music was pretty good too, which helps a lot, I suppose. It’s also shot very well, believe it or not, and that’s all thanks to the director of photography, who was none other than Dean Cundey! I’ve mentioned before, that he and Greydon Clark worked together on a couple of movies, and this was one of them. Mr. Cundey is known from working on movies like for instance Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Big Trouble In Little China, Romancing the Stone and Halloween.

Hi-Riders also has a couple of recognizable faces in some of the smaller parts! The sheriff is played by Mel Ferrer (The Great Alligator, the TV-show Falcon Crest), and his deputy by Ralph Meeker from The Anderson Tapes and Paths of Glory. The VERY patient bartender at the small bar is played by none other than Neville Brand from Laredo and Without Warning to name a couple of titles.

And we can’t “talk” about a movie like this and not at least mention the cars, right? I’m not a “car man” per se, but I like these old-school muscle cars, and in particular the Dodge Charger! The other cars, like the Pontiac Firebird, looks good too, of course, but if I had to chose… I’d definitely take the Charger! And speaking of the cars, and racing… isn’t it fantastic, but also absolutely hilarious that in the 70’s, tires screeched on ANY surface?

And THAT, my friends, is all I have for you this week! Until next time, please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

 

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About Peter Nielsen

Peter was born in Denmark in 1968, but moved to Sweden at the age of six, (not by himself of course), and has lived there ever since. He’s married and has five children, so spare time is somewhat of a luxury. His main interests in life, apart from his family, are long walks, books and movies. Any movie! He has preferences, but he’s not particular as long as it's good or... so bad it's good... he just LOVES MOVIES!

3 comments for “Peter’s Retro Reviews: Hi-Riders (1978)

  1. May 11, 2015 at 10:07 pm

    We share similar thoughts about this film. Greydon Clark make some incredibly watchable crappy movies. I have the same DVD w/Tom (which I didn’t enjoy much).

    • May 12, 2015 at 8:01 am

      I couldn’t agree more, Fred… there’s something about them that, even though they’re “bad”, makes them highly enjoyable! 🙂

    • May 12, 2015 at 8:01 am

      Oh, and thanks for commenting! 🙂

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