Saturday, January 23, 2016

Savage Dawn (1985)

Savage Dawn is a teched-up cousin to those AIP biker movies like The Savage Seven. Lance Henricksen is a Vietnam vet visiting his wartime buddy George Kennedy, who may be retired and wheelchair-bound but still considers himself the best weapons manufacturer alive. A local bar's yearly brawl to discover the toughest man in town draws a biker gang who quickly dominates the fight and then proceeds to terrorize the whole town. Henricksen is seemingly the only man capable of fighting back, but having seen too much violence he refuses to get involved. But as the gang begins terrorizing his friends, he is pushed too far, and he and Kennedy begin plotting their revenge. Savage Dawn takes a B-western invasion scenario and injects it with straight-to-video eccentricity, over-the-top action, one-liners, 80s-fashion, and a synth rock 'n roll soundtrack. What keeps the film from complete stylistic decadence is its terrific fight choreography (that isn't obliterated by close-ups and fast editing like it would today) and the great desert location photography, as well as its ensemble cast that includes Karen Black and the Fifth Chapter motorcycle club.

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