The Peacekillers (1971)

In Movies by Scott0 Comments

While I don’t consider myself an expert on the genre, I’ve certainly seen a lot of biker movies in my day — yet somehow I had never even heard of The Peacekillers until recently. This oddball chopper opera opens as bikers Cowboy, Gadget and another fellow — members of Death Row, an outlaw biker gang — interfere with some cops as they pursue a group of reckless dirt-bikers. Gadget, who carries a bag of tricks worthy of Felix the Cat and speaks with the vocabulary of an annoying Rush fan, flings a bomb at one of the cop cars and shows us just how little these bikers care for authority.

We cut to a little country grocery store/gas station run by Robert Cornthwaite, who played Dr. Carrington in the original version of The Thing (1951). Hippies Jeff (Michael Ontkean — Sheriff Truman from Twin Peaks) and Kristen (the adorable Jess Walton), brother and sister (like, by blood, not just in the hippie way), pull up in their VW bus to pick up some groceries for the commune. Kristen, like any good hippie chick, delivers some excellent groceries of her own by refusing to wear a bra. As Jeff and Kristen chat with Cornthwaite, those three bikers pull up outside. Jeff spots ’em and freaks out, yelling at Kristen to slip out the back way, where he’ll pick her up.

Of course, nothing can ever go smoothly and Cowboy sees Kristen, recognizing her. There’s a bit of a scuffle but Jeff and Kristen escape. The bikers make haste to their gang’s woodland hangout, where we see the members of Death Row rolling joints and hitting the Skoal. One of the bikers — the inappropriately-named Snatch — has little boobs on the gas tank of his bike and waxes rhapsodic about how awesome tits are while licking a bra.

Cowboy tells Reb, the leader of Death Row, that they found Kristen. We learn the saucy hippie chick used to be Reb’s ol’ lady but fled the gang and has been in hiding ever since. Reb wants revenge for his heartbreak and Death Row saddles up and heads out.

Kristen is terrified of being found by the bikers, and tells Jeff about another chick who left the gang, only to be caught and punished — “They raped the insides out of her,” Kristen wails. She and Jeff arrive at the commune, where the hippie leader Alex is spouting a bunch of hippie nonsense to his nude and semi-nude followers. His pontificating essentially boils down to how cool free love is and how much he’d like to get some of that while the gettin’s good. Turns out Kristen is his main squeeze, though, and she tells him about the bikers. Alex is firmly entrenched in his fruity hippie fantasyland, however, and is convinced they can reason with Reb and the others.

After torturing Robert Cornthwaite by jabbing a sharpened pencil into the palm of his hand (?), Reb gets the lowdown on where Kristen is holed up and the bikers head for the commune. On orders from Alex, the hippies don’t put up much of a fight, although one chick stands up to Gadget, who holds a pistol on her and demands that she shuck her clothes. Alex pleasantly asks “Wouldn’t it mean more to you if she were to undress because she wanted to?” “No,” Gadget whines, “I want her to undress because I want her to!” This all results in the hippie chick yanking her dress open and Jeff getting shot in the arm by Gadget.

When Alex won’t tell Reb where Kristen is hiding, Reb says “Look, dummy, you’re pissing me off.” They tie Alex to the big peace symbol in front of the commune, making a pretty heavy-handed point. Eventually, Kristen makes a break for it astride a horse and the bikers give chase for a really long time. When they finally catch Kristen, Reb tears her shirt off and grabs her boobs, saying “This one’s peace… and this one’s love!” Planning to gang-rape Kristen later that night, they stuff a tab of acid into her and haul her off to a local watering hole, where they hide the drugged and bound girl behind some bushes.

While the bikers party down, Kristen crawls out into the road, where she’s found by a rival biker gang, the Branded Banshees, led by Black Widow (played with eye-rolling fervor by Lavelle Roby, who recently appeared on The Shield). (Pardon the excessive use of screen shots here, but I really wanna get this performance across).

Black Widow bears a scar on her face thanks to Reb, so she’s happy to rescue Kristen, and they all head back to the commune and prepare for the final battle with Death Row. Alex is none too happy when his hippie followers decide they’d rather fight for their way of life than curl up like a bunch of flower-power pussies, and he wanders off sad and alone.

The hippies go into a Rambo-like montage of preparations for war, making spears, carving Punji sticks, and laying traps for the bikers. Kristen puts on a snug T-shirt (emphasizing her bralessness, as one must do before combat) and baits the trap by pretending to till the soil. As Death Row arrives, all hell breaks loose in a big sissy slap-fight with the hippies, and as things race towards the exciting climax, Alex must make a big-boy decision about his peaceful ways. And what’s up with the cop in that helmet?

The Peacekillers is a hell of a lot of fun, although I have to admit I was rooting for the bikers (but like Notorious Norbert the Narc, I “dig” those big-titted hippie “chicks”). Director Douglas Schwartz (nephew of Sherwood Schwartz, creator of The Brady Bunch) tries to deliver a little more depth than the standard biker flick, and I’m not sure yet if that’s actually a good thing or not.

I’d definitely recommend The Peacekillers, though, and I’m even gonna bring back the ol’ Greased Ape/Bourbon scale for this one — if you’re not familiar with that, it’s my alternative to giving a movie the thumbs-up/thumbs-down: the stars represent how many greased apes I’d be willing to wrestle to see a particular movie, and how much bourbon one might imbibe in order to enhance their viewing experience. Remember, a movie high in apes but low in bourbon is quality stuff — yet oddly enough, booze seems to help a high-ape movie, as well.

Apes: ***
Bourbon: *****

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