After World War II, motorcycle clubs began to grow in popularity throughout the United States, especially on the West Coast. Their culture was so fascinating to the outside world that Stanley Kramer decided to capitalize on it, producing the first biker flick in 1953, The Wild One, starring Marlon Brando.
Then, in the mid-1960s, the Hells Angels MC inspired a whole new litany of films, including Hells Angels on Wheels and Satan’s Sadists. With illegal activity, cool motorcycles, and hard-core characters, it’s hard not to get invested in the films of the genre. So, get ready for fights, high-speed chases, and a whole lot of crime with these biker flicks.
Hells Angels On Wheels
Starring a young Jack Nicholson and a bunch of people you’ve probably never heard of, Hells Angels on Wheels follows the story of a hot-tempered gas station attendant, Poet, who isn’t overly thrilled with his life. That is until he starts hanging out with a rough-and-tough chapter of the Hells Angels Outlaw Motorcycle Club.
Of course, things get a bit bumpy when he starts making moves on the leader’s girlfriend. That’s not a good thing in any situation, but it’s even worse when the crew you’re hanging around with is a bit flexible when it comes to the law!
Beyond The Law
The 1993 TV movie Beyond the Law stars Charlie Sheen as Dan Saxon, a cop who goes undercover in a notorious motorcycle gang. Apparently, there is intel about the group of outlaws that says they are involved in a narcotics-smuggling and arms-dealing ring.
The thing with infiltrating an MC, though, is that in order to gain their trust, Saxon must do what they say, no matter how dangerous or illegal. So, it begs the question, how far beyond the law is he willing to go to bring the criminal gang to justice?
The Wild One
Considered the original outlaw biker film, the 1953 film The Wild One made actor Marlon Brando a household name while making the idea of biker gangs kind of, well, cool! We mean, just look at Brando in the film, looking all suave with his slicked-back hair, leather jacket, and the 1950 Triumph Thunderbird motorcycle. How could people think any differently?
The film follows the story of Johnny and his motorcycle club as the drive into Carbonville for a competition. Of course, there’s a touchy Sheriff, a rival gang, and a complicated love interest. The film was critically acclaimed upon its release and is now considered a classic.
Hell Ride is a good old-fashioned movie about revenge. The Deuce and Billy Wings of the Six-Six-Six’ers biker club slay a rival club member, Cherokee Kisum. Years, later the Six-Six-Six’ers are back in town, and Cherokee’s boyfriend, Pistolero, wants to avenge her death.
Recruiting his friend Gent and Eddie Zero for help, Pistolero concocts a plan. The film was released under a “Quentin Tarantino Presents” banner and pays homage to the old 1960s and 1970s outlaw biker films.
Every Which Way But Loose
The 1978 action-comedy Every Which Way But Loose is too bizarre to make up. It stars Clint Eastwood as Philo Beddoe, a fighter and best friend to an orangutan. Everything seems to be going great for Beddoe until the country singer he is seeing, Lynn Halsey-Taylor, up and disappears without a trace.
So, he and his trusty orangutan sidekick hit the open road in search of her. Only, they wind up clashing with a gang of bikers on more than one occasion, leading up to an epic showdown. See, we told you the movie was too kooky to make up!
With the tagline “Violence is their god… and they hunt in a pack like rabid dogs!,” it’s obvious Devi’s Angels is packed full of stellar action. Following the story of the outlaw biker gang the Skulls, the film goes from fun and quirky to “all hell breaks loose” real quick.
After the Skulls are forced to lie low in a tiny town, they become entranced with local beauty queen Marianne. But, one embarrassing night for her leads to a jail sentence for the Skulls leader, Cody. Now, the MC is forced to terrorize the town and hunt like a pack of rabid dogs.
In his Hollywood debut,1980s football star Brian Bosworth stars as Joe Huff, aka John Stone. in the film Stone Cold. The film follows rough and tough Alabama cop Joe Huff as he’s reassigned to a case in Mississippi. His job is to infiltrate a motorcycle gang called “The Brotherhood.”
As it turns out, the gang is linked to many government official murders and is setting up to strike once again in an attempt to free one of their members who is on trial for murder. Now, it’s up to “John Stone” to save the district attorney.
While comedy isn’t really the first thing people typically think about when going into a biker flick, Roadside Prophets is one of the exceptions. Technically, the movie doesn’t follow a motorcycle club, but rather a Harley Davidson-riding enthusiast named Joe who goes on an unlikely adventure into the desert to spread a guy’s ashes. Oh, and he just met this guy.
On his way, Joe meets Sam, another guy riding his bike through the desert (go figure). Together, they encounter many interesting folks and begin a weird type of friendship that only two dudes traveling alone in the desert can form.
Bear with us while we explain the premise of Satan’s Sadist. For starters, this film is not for the light of heart. Following the story of the motorcycle outlaws known as “Satans,” the movie does nothing but have the viewer watch as they stalk and terrorize two people who want nothing more than to get out of the desert.
We’re not going to ruin the ending, but let’s just say it is too pretty, but the law-abiding citizens are able to hold their own against the ruthless criminal organization. Or do they?!
The 1969 film Easy Rider is wildly regarded as one, if not the, best biker flick ever made. Breaking out of the typical biker gang mold that was seen in late-’60s cinema, this film follows the story of two biker hippies as they travel cross-country in search of a place to belong in the United States.
Interestingly, the film explores the different societal landscapes that were occurring during the ’60s, including peace, love, narcotics, and the idea of a communal lifestyle. To give you a clue of the popularity surrounding this film upon its release, Easy Rider made $60 million at the box office, off a $400,000 budget!
Starring a young, leather-clad Willem Dafoe, the 1981 outlaw biker film The Loveless is equal parts of romance and violence. On their way to Daytona for a bike race, a motorcycle gang rubs some locals at a diner the wrong way. One thing leads to another, and there are slashed tires, fights, a car crash, and a romance that is way too messy for anyone’s well-being.
Amazingly, the film was shot in three weeks with a very low budget. Nonetheless, it was praised for its action sequences and script. Not a bad start for director Kathryn Bigelow’s action film debut!
Eye Of The Tiger
The 1986 action drama Eye of the Tiger is exactly the type of film any ’80s cheesy movie enthusiast has been dreaming of. The movie follows the story of convict Buck Matthews as he is released from prison and rejoins his wife and daughter in their hometown. But things are different, and the town is overrun with a violent motorcycle gang.
Being a Vietnam War veteran, Buck decides to take matters into his own hands. Calling up his old war friend, J.B. Deveraux, the two do what the cops are scared of: to rid the town of the violent outlaws.
She-Devils On Wheels
Unlike the other movies on this list, She-Devils on Wheels follows a different type of motorcycle club. This one is all-female, and they go by the name Man-Eaters. The film follows the Man-Eaters as they terrorize their small Florida town and initiate new members. They live outside the law, except for their own rule of new falling in love.
Interestingly, this film didn’t hire actors in the traditional sense. Instead, actual female motorcycle club members were asked to participate in the film. The women were part of the Iron Cross motorcycle club’s Cut-Throats Division.
Bury Me An Angel
Bury Me an Angel will go down in history as the first outlaw biker film to have a female director, Barbara Peeters. And, unlike other biker flicks, this movie centers around one girl and her friends who seek vengeance for her brother’s death.
Of course, she’s a biker who hopes on her Harley on the way out of town, but she’s not terrorizing anyone, yet. We mean, the girl is six-feet tall and hops on the back of a bike toting a shotgun. So, there’s bound to be violence at some point.
Nothing says comedy like four old men having a mid-life crisis and deciding to go a motorcycle road trip with their pals. Starring the comedic genius of John Travolta, Martin Lawrence, Tim Allen, and William H. Macy, Wild Hogs follows the four men as they plan a trip to California.
Of course, nothing goes as planned, and somehow they wind up on the bad side of Del Fuegos, a rough motorcycle club. Yea, what could possibly go wrong during that fight?!
After winning a $2,000 motorcycle at an auction, Dan decides to sell it in order to pay for a ranch where he wants to settle down. Hell’s Belles follows Dan’s journey as the bike is stolen by some thugs who are on their way to Mexico.
So, Dan takes it upon himself to use an array of strange weapons, including rocks and, weirdly enough, rattlesnakes, to take down the people who stole from him. Of course, his girlfriend, Cathy, is along for the ride. While it’s not your typical biker flick, critics seem to enjoy the fun plot!
The Hard Ride
The 1971 outlaw film The Hard Ride is pretty much that — a hard ride. The movie follows U.S. Marine Phil as he promises his dying buddy that he’ll take care of his beloved motorcycle, Baby. Well, what sounds like an easy task turns out to be anything but simple.
When Phil goes to collect the bike from his friend’s now ex-girlfriend, a rough biker gang comes into the picture. They decide right then and there that they don’t like the idea of Phil having the bike or the girl.
The Rebel Rousers
The 1970 independent outlaw biker film The Rebel Rousers is one of many from the time to feature the actors Jack Nicholson, Bruce Dern, and Harry Dean Stanton. The movie follows Paula and Karen, a couple who find themselves pregnant. Then insert the aggressive motorcycle club that comes into town, one of the members being J.J., an old high school friend.
And while the rest of the club wants to torture Karen and Paul, J.J. tries to talk them out it, offering a motorcycle race to delay the inevitable. According to critics, the ending of this film is just flat out crazy to watch.
The Born Losers
Since the 1950s, director Tom Laughlin had been trying to figure out a way to incorporate the character Billy Jack into a script. So, when biker flicks became popular in the ’60s, he decided to capitalize on the idea of a motorcycle gang. The movie The Born Losers is actually based on a true story surrounding the Hells Angels MC.
The movie follows the story of a biker gang reigning terror in a coastal California town, resulting in four girls being assaulted. But Vietnam veteran Billy Jack won’t stand for it, taking on the gang single-handily in a heroic attempt to rid the town of their criminal acts.
The Girls From Thunder Strip
The 1966 film The Girls From Thunder Strip is unlike any other biker flick you’ve heard of. For starters, the film surrounds a group of southern girls. But these gals aren’t exactly what one would call “southern belles.” Instead, they’re bootleggers who decide to take on a biker gang over moonshine.
But that’s not even the best part. There’s a federal agent sent to the same area who is tasked with taking down an illegal doings, including bootlegging! Critics enjoy the absurdity of the content while saying it has a certain charm.