(director/writer: Martin B. Cohen; screenwriters: Abe Polsky/Michael Kars; cinematographers: László Kovács/Glen R. Smith; editor: George W. Brooks; music: William Loose; cast: Cameron Mitchell (Paul Collier), Diane Ladd (Karen), Bruce Dern (J. J.), Jack Nicholson (Bunny), Robert Dix (Miguel), Harry Dean Stanton (Rebel Rouser); Runtime: 78; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Dascha Auberbach/Martin B. Cohen/Rex Carlton; Rhino Home Video; 1970)

“Tawdry biker flick.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This tawdry biker flick was made in 1967 but sat on the shelf of Paragon International Pictures for three years before its release. It was released in 1970 because of the sudden emergence of Jack Nicholson, one of the film’s stars, after making Easy Rider. Director, coproducer and cowriter Martin B. Cohen (Bruce Dern’s manager) keeps it looking like Marlon Brandon’s 1953 The Wild One, the Mother of all grade B biker films.The other writers are Michael Kars and New York playwright Abe Polsky.

Warning: spoilers throughout.

A rowdy Los Angeles biker gang called the Rebel Rousers, sporting Confederate flags on the back of their leather jackets, arrive in the tiny town of Chloride, Arizona, for fun and games. They invade a local bar frequented by senior citizens and cause a disturbance. The local sheriff, at gunpoint, forces them out of town. Also visiting town is LA architect Paul Collier (Cameron Mitchell), who is meeting there his pregnant girlfriend Karen (Diane Ladd, the wife at the time of costar Bruce Dern). One of the gang, J. J. (Bruce Dern), recognizes Paul as a football foe from their high school days in Los Angeles and chats him up.

Karen refuses Paul’s marriage proposal and states she wants to be a single mom. They take a car ride to the beach to discuss this, but the gang spots them and administers a severe beating to Paul despite the protests of J. J.. Feeling some obligation to Paul, J.J. suggests a drag-race with Karen as the prize to the winner. J.J. knows Paul slipped away and hopes the race will stall for time so that Paul can get help.

Paul reaches a Mexican family and asks for help. Miguel (Robert Dix), a fisherman in the coastal town, realizes the sheriff is out of town escorting a prisoner, so he gathers a bunch of local farmers who bring pitchforks to the beach where Karen is held captive and is forced to be with the striped pants wearing race winner named Bunny (Jack Nicholson). They rescue Karen and the gang moves on, but without J.J. who got into a fight with Bunny.

The Rebel Rousers Poster