We covered this movie in July of last year, referring to it as "filthy, grimy, messy and completely wonderful." It's also one of Joe Bob Briggs' Sleaziest Movies in the History of the World (keep in mind, ten our of the fourteen movies on that list came from Herschell Gordon Lewis). Now, Arrow Video has released it along with Just for the Hell of It on one blu ray, so you don't have to shell out the big bucks for the Herschell Gordon Lewis Feast Box (but you totally should).
Arrow Video has lent their typical master's touch to this release, with both movies presented in high def 1080p and filmed introductions from Lewis for both films. As the Godfather of Gore states in that intro, this is the one movie that rivals Blood Feast for box office and was his answer to the question, "Why don't you stop cutting up all those girls and kill some men?"
This time through, I watched the film with commentary by H.G. Lewis and Something Weird's Mike Vraney. This commentary track is a real joy, with Lewis quite honest about his faults as a filmmaker while giving tips for would be exploitation creations for how to film things properly. I wasn't sure how much more I could love this movie, but this release exponentially increased my ardor.
Filmed with a legitimate cast of biker riding women, this movie is years ahead of its time. Heck, it's years ahead of its time now. These women outride, outfight and dominate every man they meet with no apologies whatsoever. Even Karen, our would-be protagonist, after being forced to kill a lover by dragging him behind her hog, still stays with the Maneaters. They terrorize Florida and every human being they meet because they're outside of the scope of humanity. They're superheroes - well, supervillains - who can't be stopped.
I love that Lewis realizes that adding on a post-credits scene in 1968 was a mistake. It was often trimmed or audiences left before they saw it. The film can't end with the Maneaters in jail. They speak almost directly to the camera, promising more chaos. It's as if they're the biker gang Avengers years before anyone would think to film such a sequence.
I also love that Karen rejects the straight world and her ex-boyfriend Joe, who wants things to be the way they always were. The women in this movie reject the roles their gender has enforced upon them and instead have no issues slicing, dicing, tearing and maiming their way through their rival gang, led by Joe Boy. The fact that he's a slice of mom and pop Americana, with bleached blonde good looks and it's astounding - not to be a broken record - that the film ends with her rejecting white picket fences and a certain future.
H.G. Lewis made 33 films between 1962 and 1972. Those films would run in drive-ins for years before the adventure of the VCR and Something Weird would bring them back to viewers. Most of these movies had lower budgets than this and less time ($60,000 spent over two weeks), but they all exhibit a zeal and love for shock and showing you something different than you've ever seen before. Lewis remains affable and happy throughout the commentary, the kind of uncle you wish you had who'd done some crazy things in his past and wasn't shy about sharing them with you. The loss of both he and Mike Vraney are palpable.
Needless to say, this movie has my highest possible recommendation.