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Weird Wednesday at Alamo Drafthouse: 'The Hellcats'

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"The Hellcats" screens this Wednesday August 28th at 10 p.m. as part of the Weird Wednesday series at Alamo Drafthouse Ritz, 320 East Sixth Street in downtown Austin.

When we listed "The Greatest Biker Movies Ever Made," one film that did not make the cut was 1968's "The Hellcats." The reason for that is quite simply, really. The movie is terrible. That said, there are several reasons to attend this week's Weird Wednesday screening at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz:

  • It's only three dollars to get in.
  • Weird Wednesday programmer/host Lars Nilsen will introduce the film, and history has proven that the worse the movie, the funnier the intro.
  • For the muso, the soundtrack has its share of classic fuzztone and bongo instrumentals, plus some cool garage rock numbers.
  • If you're a fan of sleaze and grime, this movie is plenty sleazy and extremely grimy.
  • The cast includes Ross Hagen ("The Sidehackers," "The Mini-Skirt Mob"), Elvis Presley's bodyguard Del "Sonny" West as Snake, Shannon Summers as Rita a/k/a Cyclops, and several actors you may recognize from the films of Coleman Francis.

Yes, the direction by Robert F. Slatzer is inept, and the screenplay by Slatzer and Tony Huston (no relation to John) is an incoherent mess. Nonetheless, the film has gained notoriety over the years, primarily because it was featured on a memorable installment of "Mystery Science Theater 3000." Without Joel and the 'Bots to provide witty one-liners and pop culture references, however, the movie is not nearly as enjoyable.

Nilsen puts it this way:

"What an astonishingly poor excuse for a biker movie! There's not a single recognizable human trait in any of these characters. They are meat on a motorbike, and inexpensive cuts of meat at that. But, while excellent biker movies are truly magnificent things, they are so very rare, so those of us who love the roar of Harleys and the sound of fuzztone guitars must learn to embrace these outrageously awful, poorly paced, and commercially desperate biker epics. If you can handle 'Hellcats,' you can handle anything life will ever throw at you. You will become like a young god. You will become light itself. We promise."

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J.M. Dobies, Austin Classic Movies Examiner Facebook Page

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