William Grefe’s1967 film Wild Rebels is the intellectual equivalent of smashing someone’s kneecap with a sledgehammer, which–incidentally enough–is actually slightly less painful than sitting through this terrible movie.
Wild Rebels stars sixties pop-star Steve Alaimo as Rod Tillman, a stock car driver who can’t make it through one race without totaling his car beyond repair. After giving up stock racing and hitchhiking for a little bit, Rod finds himself inside of a bar filled with college kids, a terrible pop-rock band, and a “gang” of Neo-Nazi bikers called the Satan’s Angels (however, since the “gang” consists of only four members, it’s really more accurate to describe them as a ‘Quartet of Neo-Nazi bikers–although, since there’s nothing in the dialogue/story that suggests the Satan’s Angels subscribe to any racist Nazi doctrines, an even more accurate way to describe them would be ‘Quartet of bikers who inexplicably wear Swastikas for vaguely menacing purposes).
The Satan’s Angels “gang” consists of four distinct and utterly ridiculous members, including Jeeter (John Vella)–the de facto leader who spouts cheesy 60’s slang like a bad beatnik poet, Banjo (Willie Pastrano)–the resident kill-first-ask-questions-later guy, Linda (Bobbie Byers)–the biker chick who sleeps around with everyone and who’s into robberies and violence just ‘for the kicks’, and then there’s Fats (Jeff Gillen)–the fat guy who speaks in unintelligent grunts due to an accident involving board hitting him in the back of the head.
The Satan’s Angels attempt to recruit Rod into their gang in hopes of making him a getaway driver because robbing banks on motorcycles isn’t all that inconspicuous. However, Rod turns the gang down and leaves their hide-out only to be caught by Lieutenant Dorn (Walter R. Philbin), a man whose been watching the gang but hasn’t been able to apprehend them (because apparently ‘competence’ isn’t a pre-requisite to become a police officer).
Dorn quickly recruits Rod to go undercover and join the gang in order to bring them down, which Rod agrees to, despite there being no motivation for it (other than to progress the action of the film). Rod successfully joins the gang, and quickly becomes an accomplice to a series of inexplicably successful robberies, only for the whole terrible mess to end with a mindless shoot-out at a lighthouse.
Wild Rebels is terrible in the sense that it seems like a movie that had been shouted onto the screen rather than filmed. The acting is atrocious, the plot–much like a shotgun blast–is very loud and quickly scatters into randomness almost as soon as the movie begins, there are continuity errors so glaring that it’s impossible not to laugh at them (tires squealing on a dirt road? Banjo shooting two cops at the same time despite the fact his shotgun is aimed away from them at a 45 degree angle?)
However, the most cringe-worthy and annoying aspect of the film is the dialogue, which is so frozen in time that’s half-embarrassing half-hilarious. Some particularly embarrassing/funny gems include “Dig the cat at the bar“, “You’re so square, you look like a box“, and the utterly confusing exchange between Banjo and Rod, which goes like this: Banjo: “He’s square baby. Really square” Rod: “Look, you just keep trying to put that square peg in a round hole and everything’ll be FINE!”
Seriously, what does that mean? It looks like it’s supposed to be a comeback to Banjo’s remark that Rod is ‘really square’ (i.e. not cool, a ‘narc’), but there’s nothing insulting or witty about Rod’s rebuttal. In fact, it’s almost as if Rod is suggesting that if someone is ‘really square’ enough, it somehow becomes a good thing.
The only redeeming quality about Grefe’s film is that it makes for terrific comedy fodder if one has their friends over–in fact–the only possible way to enjoy this movie is by inviting some friends over and cracking jokes at its expense, which is both incredible easy and incredible fun. If you’ve got friends and a sense of humor, that pop Wild Rebels in and have yourself a good laugh, otherwise, avoid this movie at all costs.
Find the nearest Blockbuster near your home so you can rent this film almost immediately. Or, if you prefer that movies came to you instead, set up a Netflix account and start your ordering as soon as possible.