She-Devils on Wheels (1968)

“You’ll have us so worked up, we’ll pick and look later.”

If a campy biker chick film appeals to your imagination, then this is the film for you. She-Devils On Wheels directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis and brought to DVD by Something Weird Video concerns an all-girl biker gang called The Man-Eaters. On a literal level, this film is about some nasty girls who ride motorbikes, but while it’s campy, and badly acted, the film, rather surprisingly, hits some deeper chords.

The Man-Eaters enjoy harassing the locals and teasing the local police. Led by Queen (Betty Connell), in her coordinating outfits (hot pink, leopard print) who regularly organizes bike races, the gang descends on a harem hut full of indolent, lazy-eyed studs. The winner of the race picks a stud for the night, the runner-up has second pick, and so on down the line. The selections are conducted under a barrage of raucous comments, and the male consorts always moan and groan when hefty Whitey (Pat Poston) makes her pick. The races are so tepid, they must just be an excuse for the hut hanky-panky. The Man-Eaters have a mascot of sorts–little Honey Pot (Nancy Lee Noble)–who rides around on her scooter with the gang. She isn’t allowed to participate in the races or the stud selection until after the initiation ceremony….

So there you have it–about 82 minutes of campy fun. But stepping away from all the campiness for a moment, the film also carries a serious underlying message. Queen and her gang understand that men have the potential to subjugate women through sexuality. Hence the strict rule that gang members do not go soft and start selecting the same man during post-race celebrations. Nancy (who really shouldn’t belong to the Man-Eaters) feels the lure of the bourgeois life through her preppy ex-beau. In the Man-Eaters’ subversion of sex roles, the women assume gangland style male behaviour, dominating and terrorizing the males in their sphere, and copying male dominance through flaunting sexual freedom. While the studs are easy to push around, the Man-Eaters run foul of tough Joe-Boy and his macho all-male gang. When Joe-Boy and his followers seek revenge, they achieve it through sexual violence. The cult classic DVD includes: commentary from the director, the original trailer, the short film Biker Beach Party and a Gallery of Exploitation Art.

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