The Video Nasties #18 – Wrong Way (1972, Ray Williams)

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‘What a bummer.’

I was born in 1982, and if Wrong Way is any indication, I’m glad I missed out on the 1970s. The film begins with a group of sweaty bikers bemoaning the fact they’ve run out of pills and grass. ‘Bummer,’ says one of them as they wait for a different biker gang to show up and sell them some grass. They realize they’ve no beer (‘What a bummer,’ says a different guy) and two of them drive off to pick some up. Meanwhile, a pair of young girls taking a shortcut find that their car has broken down. ‘What a bummer!’ says one of the girls, in what initially appears to be the only line in the script. They decide to walk to the nearest town, and therefore change into ‘something lighter for hiking,’ despite already wearing the flimsiest little playsuits you’ve ever seen. They strip naked in the middle of the road and change, as anyone would.

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Back to the bikers.

The second biker gang arrives, soundtracked by a furious mixture of bongos and one-note fuzz guitar. One of them wears a bowler hat and a painful sunburn and sucks raw eggs. Every single one of them is grossly unattractive. I’ll tell you something, I hope we won’t be seeing any of these guys naked.

Just wait.

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‘What’s happening?’

‘Cool man, I’ve got the grass.’

‘Groovy, show it now, man.’

‘Right on. Let’s see the bread. The bread man, the bread.’

‘The grass, the grass.’

Did people really talk like that? Our lead biker takes a long toke and fantasises about winning a hand of poker, then imagines a nude cowgirl wearing a tinfoil sheriff’s badge over her left breast. She stands stock still for five uninterrupted minutes, squeezing her breasts and probably wondering what the hell she’s doing there and when she’s getting paid.

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Ah, the hopes and dreams of a biker gang! In retrospect, I wish the rest of the film had gone through the other bikers and shown their own weird pot fantasies, but instead, the girls from the start show up and the bikers rape them, over and over and over again. It’s a shocking scene, that goes on for most of the film, longer and more explicit than the equivalent scenes in Last House on the Left and I Spit on Your Grave. It’s quite extraordinary that this film was not singled out for inclusion with the Section 2 Nasties, as its forced lesbianism and scenes of naked girls being menaced with live snakes are phenomenally unpleasant to watch. Of course, the scene lacks the visceral power of the two aforementioned films, due to the lack of a good director. Ray Williams just points and shoots, with most of the nudity being supplied by those ghastly looking bikers, who run around with their limp dicks flapping in the wind below their beer bellies, slapping each other on their bare asses.

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Once or twice it almost achieved a Last House type maudlin effect of having mournful folk music play over the assault, but moments like that are, like the erections of the male cast members, fleeting.

Perhaps the most unbelievable moment in any Nasty occurs at the end of this scene. The bikers decide they’ve had their fun and drive away, and our two girls shout after them, ‘Don’t leave us here! Please come back!’ because apparently women are so helpless that they need men to take them to safety, even if those men have just gang-raped them.

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Soon our girls stumble upon a hippie commune, the members of whom, in a twist that only a film like this would dare try, decide to rape and murder our luckless leads. The film ends when the police intervene and rescue the girls in a gunfight, in a scene which is described to us over the radio but only shown in glimpses. It’s a pathetic, half-baked climax to a pathetic, half-baked movie that somehow has the gall to introduce a subplot about drug runners with 15 minutes left of the movie. As our faithful sheriff (the real one, not the naked cowgirl) says, ‘It’s been a day. Not good, but different.’

It’s hard to disagree.

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