Monday, June 3, 2013

The Peace Killers (1971)



A clash between hog-riding outlaws and peacenik longhairs is the subject of the mildly provocative drama/thriller The Peace Killers. Unfortunately, because the movie’s abundant violence is so mean-spirited and sleazy, it’s difficult to argue that The Peace Killers is about anything real, despite the way the storyline approaches issues pertaining to moral relativism. The movie begins with commune members Jeff (Michael Ontkean) and Kristen (Jess Walton), who are siblings, pulling their hippy-dippy VW van into the wrong place at the wrong time—Jeff and Kristen encounter members of a biker gang with which Kristen was once associated. It turns out that in her wilder days, Kristen was the squeeze of the gang’s leader, psychotic cyclist Reb (Clint Ritchie). Jeff and Kristen escape the bikers, but when Reb learns that his ex-mama has resurfaced, he vows to capture her for humiliating payback. Eventually, Reb terrorizes the entire commune, so the movie hangs on the question of whether Kristen’s guru/love interest, Alex (Paul Prokop), will abandon his pacifist principles and use force to protect her. The Peace Killers does a decent job of capturing the era’s lingo, as when Alex lays down his touchy-feely Philosophy 101 raps. “Speech is such a poor means of communication,” he blathers at one point. “Words distort so much.” The movie’s verbal verve also manifests in Reb’s nasty screeds: “I’m gonna find that little whore, and when I do I’m gonna give her a special midnight ride—I’m gonna ram into her and tear her wide open.” Ouch. Even though The Peace Killers drags a bit, the lurid scenes have considerable lowbrow potency thanks to plentiful nudity and violence; after all, The Peace Killers is first and foremost an exploitation flick. Leading man Ontkean is fine, displaying the same gentle sincerity that distinguished his work on the TV series The Rookies (which hit the airwaves a year after The Peace Killers was released), while darkly pretty Walton makes an alluring if somewhat vapid leading lady. (One hopes she didn’t have to do many takes of the movie’s unsavory gang-rape scene.) As for the rest of the cast, each actor delivers a one-note performance as needed.

The Peace Killers: FUNKY

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