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Savage Abduction

a/k/a Cycle Psychos

a/k/a The Abduction of Lisa Ridelander

     "C'mon. It might be fun!"

-- Sweet Jenny's epitaph.      




Gonzoid Cinema




Thankfully, for all those involved on both sides of the screen, Romeo finally puts the psycho, and the movie, and us, out of our misery!


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Savage Abduction


As with all vintage VHS videos from our friends at Paragon Inc., we're honored with the "privilege" of sitting through at least a half-dozen previews of other films under their distribution umbrella:

First up is Boarding House -- filmed in spectacular HORROR-VISION -- "Where the rent won't kill you, but something else will." Well HORROR-VISION may be spectacular but this shot-on-video gore orgy shows little promise; lot's of nudity in this preview and I'm taking it as a bad omen ... and if that's not a damning indictment then I don't know what is. Next comes some foreign import called For Your Love Only that might be a tragic romance or Natasha Kinski fighting Nazis on the moon, followed by Orson Wells slumming it as a coven leader in yet another '70s tribute to the great cloven one, The Witching.

Next, we radically shift gears and head out to the wild west with Vera Miles and Sam Elliot for Molly and Lawless John, and then our schizophrenic previews continue as we abruptly head back into slasher land with Just Before Dawn, where the narrator encourages us to run for our lives. Why? I'm not sure, but George Kennedy is somehow involved. Need I say more? And hey! it's a preview for The One Armed Executioner, and sadly, if you've seen the trailer, you really don't need to see the whole movie. *sigh* Another illusion shattered.

And down the back stretch we come! (How many *%#@ previews are we gonna see!) Funeral Home takes place in -- well, a funeral home, which would explain all the embalming equipment and dead bodies, and then somebody's been messing around with the portal to hell again and gets a power drill in the head for their troubles in The Gates of Hell. Then our last preview shows the most promise because it stars fan favorite Strother Martin in Hotwire -- the Buford Pusser version of Repo Man from the looks of it. Seems Martin is training his latest protégé on how to steal a car, but the bumpkin they try to steal it from has something better than The Club: he's got the car log-chained to a tree! Mayhem ensues. 

Is that it? Finally, our feature presentation:

We open on a quiet street in a residential section of Hollywood, but it isn't quiet for long as a bickering couple's latest argument spills outside their mansion. And as the wife chases the husband down the driveway and calls him a really bad name, ignoring her as best he can, he drives away. Following the car down the street, the camera then stops, swings back, and settles on a white Rolls Royce parked nearby. A middle-aged gent in a hideous '70s leisure suit soon crawls out, and with his briefcase in tow, a hippie-style power-ballad cranks up as the wild-eyed stranger makes his way toward the couple's mansion. He has a key, and after he lets himself in, we first assume that maybe he and the wife are having some kind of illicit affair. This is reinforced when he quietly makes his way into the bedroom and finds the wife sitting on the bed. But she doesn't recognize him and panics, especially when he pulls a large butcher knife out of his briefcase! A struggle ensues, and every times she tries to plead with him to stop, he just shushes her, like a disobedient child. Things then turn even more sinister when he starts having some kind of flashback -- or nervous fit, which causes him to hack the poor woman to pieces. 

Sometime later, the dead woman's hen-pecked husband, Richard Ridelander (Tom Drake), a high priced attorney, receives a phone call from the police, informing him that his wife has been murdered. Returning home, he finds the police going over the crime scene; it's a blood bath in the bedroom. With all the troubles they'd been having, the attorney is worried that the police might suspect him, but several witnesses heard her scream well after he left and his alibi for that time will hold up. The detective in charge then has the unpleasant duty of informing him his wife was violated after she was murdered.

And my Internal Vile-o-Meter is starting to twitch and act up already...

As the hippie-fueled power-ballad cranks up again, and the credits finally roll, the killer returns home to his mansion with a stack of presents. Once inside, Harvey (Joe Turkel) makes his way into his super-secret psycho-degenerate clubhouse, adorned with bondage and fetish pictures and three naked mannequins. There's also a portrait of a stern looking woman that he has trouble looking at -- so I'm going to assume this is mother, and the source of all his hang-ups. He then opens the presents: a brand new batch of clothes for his mannequins, and we leave this interlude with Harvey sniffing a new pair of panties.

And my internal Vile-o-Meter inches dangerously into the red...

I assume a few days later, Ridelander is back at his office, where he receives another phone call from some mysterious party who wants to meet. Judging by the reaction, Ridelander doesn't want to but the caller is insistent until he finally agrees. Meanwhile, Harvey's done playing dress-up and is now waltzing with one of his life-sized Barbie dolls. He expresses his love for this imaginary friend, but has another fit when the mannequin won't return his sentiments. Throwing the automaton on top of his snooker table, he draws his knife and moves in for the kill. But the mannequin is saved -- for the moment -- when someone knocks on the door ... As we should have suspected, it's Ridelander. Seems Ridelander has been Harvey's family attorney for a long time and new all about the deranged son's personal hang-ups. Together, they got their Hitchcock on and plotted the perfect crime when Ridelander arranged for Harvey to kill his nagging wife. (Oh yeah, Columbo would have figured this out an hour ago.) Thinking that would be the end of it, Ridelander instead finds himself ensnared for Harvey secretly recorded the meeting where they finalized their nefarious plans. Seems the little degenerate enjoyed the act of killing too much and wants to do it again, and to do so, is willing to blackmail Ridelander into using his influence with his lower clientele to kidnap two more young women so he can act out his fantasies again. Completely hooked, Ridelander is told that Harvey will pay a handsome sum to whomever he finds willing to do the deed.

And my internal Vile-o-Meter pegs out until the needle breaks off...

Later, Ridelander meets up with Chelsea Miller, the leader of The Savage Disciples, a motorcycle club that's seen better days, at some dive. After the lawyer lays it all out, at first, Miller (Stephen Oliver -- whom we haven't seen since Werewolves on Wheels), doesn't want in because of the "sex freak's" motives, but Ridelander ups the ante, assuring him ten-grand and a fresh start, legally. Ridelander then also shows his true colors by adding that people die all the time -- auto accidents, war, contract killings for nagging wives, so life isn't all that precious. (Is it any wonder why we despise lawyers so much?) Knowing Miller is in deep trouble with the man on some drug beef, Ridelander seals the deal by threatening to withdraw his legal services, knowing no other lawyer worth his salt would touch this offender with a ten-foot pole. Quid pro quo'd into a corner, Miller finally agrees to do it; but he isn't so sure about the other Disciples, so they conspire and concoct a story that the girls are just being sold to some white-slavers down in Mexico. Now all he has to do is sell the scheme to the others.

Heading to the derelict shack that serves as the Disciples clubhouse, once inside, Miller finds Lorie (Amy Thomson) -- his old lady, strung out on something. Hurting real bad for another fix, she's easy to convince for the quick cash for another hit. But Irish and Romeo (Bill Barney and Sean Kenney) -- the only other members of this one-lung gang -- aren't very keen on the idea. Miller tries to convince them that with the bread, they can clear out, head north, and start over and bring The Savage Disciples back to the glory days. After a little more haggling, when they finally agree, Miller sends them out to snatch the unsuspecting victims. After those two roar off on their hogs, Lorie is having second thoughts. She's the extremely jealous type and warns Miller not to get any funny ideas and to focus on the money and not the muff or "They'll be delivering two dead bitches."

And my internal Vile-o-Meter is quickly losing patience with me -- and the movie...

While Romeo and Irish prowl the streets, looking for the right victims, Jenny Madison (Tanis Galik), and her best friend, Faye (Kitty Vallacher), debark off the bus from Omaha. There to spend summer vacation with Jenny's aunt and uncle in sunny Hollywood, they're paged at the depot to take a call from her aunt and find out her uncle has broken his leg. Since they're both stuck at the hospital, the girls will have to take a cab to the house. Once there, the friends start to unpack and Jenny changes  into a much more revealing outfit of tight jeans and bikini top while Faye remains in her short-skirted schoolgirl get-up. And I think we all know where this is going...

And my internal Vile-o-Meter HAS lost it's patience with me -- and the movie...

Here we also learn that Jenny's mom sent them to Hollywood to get her away from her no-good boyfriend after they did the deed. When Faye confesses that she's still a virgin, Jenny confesses that her aunt used to work for the Gestapo and thinks they need to get out and see the city on their own before the inevitable lockdown. Faye isn't sure they should, but Jenny eventually cajoles her into it, promising that they'll just go to the hospital. Ah, but how will they get there? The answer comes when Jenny sticks out her thumb -- and the first riders that cross their path are Irish and Romeo. Offered a ride, Faye pulls Jenny aside and says she's heard bad stories about bikers. But Jenny's intrigued and convinces her to go for it. Besides, she thinks Romeo is kind of cute under that gruff exterior. So the trap is set, they've taken the bait, and their fate is sealed.

And my internal Vile-o-Meter starts tapping me on the shoulder and would like to have a word with me...

Taking the girls back to the clubhouse -- not exactly on the way to the hospital -- Romeo assures the girls that they only stopped for some gas money and invites them in to meet the other Disciples. Faye wants to wait outside, but again, Jenny trusts the dreamy Romeo. Miller greets them at the door and escorts them inside, where nothing much happens -- yet, but it's starting to get dark and the girls are getting a little nervous. When they ask to be taken home, Miller proclaims the party's just getting started and tries to give them a drink. And already, Lorie is seething at all the attention he's giving them and soon boils over into a full blown fit. Miller quickly takes her into a side room and gives her a beat down. Before they kill each other, Irish heads in to break it up. Alone, Jenny begs Romeo to just let them go, but he refuses. Switching tactics, Jenny tries to distract him while Faye sneaks away. And she actually makes it outside before Irish catches her and drags her back inside, kicking and screaming. Locking the two captives in a closet, Miller leaves to meet Ridelander for the payoff.

But the snatch happened too quickly and Ridelander doesn't have the money from Harvey yet. Pissed off at this, Miller is insistent that no money means no broads ... Unable to get the money until morning, Ridelander says he'll have to hold them until the banks open the next day. Asking at least for a small advance, Miller gets it and blows it all on beer and some reefer. Returning to the house, as he and his cohorts whoop it up, still locked in the closet, the two captives console each other and decide they're mutually to blame. (Which is awfully nice of Faye!) Faye worries about the possibility of being raped, but they both agree to focus on trying to escape instead, and besides, Jenny is sure the cops are out looking for them. But they're not; the cops were called but convince the relatives that the girls are just out being girls and will eventually turn up.

When Ridelander calls in and reports, the impatient Harvey is very upset that he has to hold on until morning, and promises that the girls will pay dearly for making him wait; and until then, he takes his frustration out on his mannequins.

And that smell of burning copper and metal on metal screech is my internal Vile-o-Meter melting down...

Later, with Lorie doped up and passed out in the bedroom, Miller takes the opportunity to have some fun with his captives. Warning everyone to keep it down, he pulls them out of the closet and promises that they'll let them go if they'll just party with them for awhile. As Miller tries to force them to smoke some reefer, it becomes obvious that Romeo has fallen for Jenny -- hard, and tries to protect the girls as best he can. But noble intentions don't always bring noble results, and once they're all sufficiently stoned, Miller forces the girls to do a striptease. To help, Irish puts on some mood music and the misanthropes taunt and ogle Jenny and Faye as they clumsily disrobe.

And my internal Vile-o-Meter sparks and splutters and then goes into some violent convulsions...

Soon down to their underwear, the girls refuse to go any further. When Miller tries to force the issue, Romeo intervenes and their ensuing ruckus makes too much noise and wakes up the old shrew. With that, the party is busted and the girls are thrown back in the closet before Lorie rips them to shreds.

Come the dawn, Harvey the creep is in his hide-out, carefully and meticulously packing his knifes, hack-saws, and tools of mass destruction. Meeting Ridelander at the bank, he withdraws the large sum of money, and as they head for the Disciples lair, Harvey can barely contain himself. Disgusted by the display, Ridelander threatens Harvey that this is the one and only time, and when it's over, he never wants to see him again.

With time running out, the captives are getting desperate. After a failed attempt to signal the neighbors for help through a peephole in the wall, things get even worse as the girls are caught in the act, pulled from the closet, and smacked around. Hard ... Satisfied that they'll behave now, Miller orders Lorie to clean them up for the buyer. When she's done, Jenny begs for a glass of water and Romeo let's them go to the kitchen. But he doesn't keep a very good eye on them, allowing Jenny to sneak a knife out of the sink, and when Irish orders them back into the main room, Jenny stabs him in the shoulder. Knocking her to the side, as the hulking biker pulls the knife out, Romeo grabs Faye as she bolts for the door; and then the wounded Irish grabs Jenny, with every intention of returning the knife the same way she gave it to him -- sharp end first!

Seeing their big payoff going up in smoke, Miller steps in to stop the enraged Irish, saying that killing Jenny is too quick, and reveals the real reason behind the kidnappings: the girls are really for some sex freak who "gets off" cutting women to pieces. Very slowly. So, Miller says, he can kill her quick, or leave her to die slow. None of the bikers -- Lorie included, are pleased that this piece of information was held back, especially Romeo, but they're in it too deep now to back out. Working quickly, Lorie tends to the wounded Irish while the other two tie the girls up. Leaving them bound and gagged on the couch, they vacate the house, mount their choppers, and roll on down the road a spell and wait. Soon enough, Harvey's Rolls comes into view. Inside, Harvey tells Ridelander to hold the payment until he makes sure the girls they got are pretty enough. Leaving Ridelander with the car, he heads inside with his suitcases to check on his merchandise.

Watching all of this, Romeo is getting a little antsy and the impatient Miller wants to know why they're not getting their payoff right away. Tension mounts as Harvey heads inside and is smitten with his victims -- so smitten that he forgets to signal Ridelander to pay off the bikers. He then pulls out a knife and shows the captives a disaster bag -- the kind they use in freeway accidents, when the victims are in more than one piece.

And my internal Vile-o-Meter has been reduced to a steaming and quivering mass of goo...

Focusing on Jenny, Harvey cuts her feet loose, stands her up, and then cuts off the gag as they start to dance. (A scene eerily reminiscent of the earlier scene with the mannequin.) Asked if she loves him, Jenny is smart enough to say what he wants to hear to save her life, but, unfortunately, the psycho doesn't believe her. Brandishing the knife near her throat, Harvey promises to show her what happens when he's lied to. He lunges. She screams. He misses? And sticks his hand through a window ... Outside, Jenny's screams bring Romeo back on the fly. As the others chase after him, when Ridelander hops into the Rolls to head them off, Romeo dodges the car, but Irish is hit and crashes in a heap and the impact causes the car to spin out of control, where it proceeds to wipe Lorie out and crushes Miller into a tree. In the car, Ridelander slumps over the wheel, unconscious ... Back inside the house, Jenny is completely loose and is bandaging the whimpering Harvey's hand. When Romeo storms in, he throws Harvey to the side, grabs Jenny and heads for the door. But she stops him -- they're forgetting poor Faye. As they go to untie her, Harvey recovers that old homicidal urge and attacks Romeo. Soon rolling around on the floor and struggling over the knife, Harvey gets lucky and stabs Romeo in the guts. But Romeo manages to get back on top and then turns the knife back on Harvey, who has one more, pathetic flashback to dear old Mom before allowing Romeo to plunge the knife into his chest. The deed done, Romeo rolls off him, but his wounds are fatal, and he gives Jenny one last fleeting look before he expires.

And my internal Vile-o-Meter hiccups, burps, and officially croaks.

Outside, Ridelander recovers and checks on the others. They're all dead. When Jenny runs out of the house, screaming for help, she spots him, and not knowing that he's in on the conspiracy, calls to him for help. They meet halfway, and the hippy power ballad kicks in as they both limp toward the house, together, promising a happy ending. 

I think.

The End

I really think it's going to take my internal Vile-o-Meter quite a while to recover from this movie. Even if it does -- and I stress on the IF, it won't be speaking to me for a long, long time. Now I don't mind sleaze in my movies. Sleaze is nasty, naughty, and forgivable. Vileness, on the other hand, is whole different can of corn. The movie isn't as vile as, say, Maniac -- thee sickest and most indecorous piece of cinema this particular reviewer has ever watched, but they're both concerned with the same things: girls are bad, and somehow, the girls are asking for it -- therefore deserving it, and it's all Mom's fault. I have no patience for this kind of crap. If anything, with no nudity or gore to speak of, this movie shows amazing restraint -- but then somehow it just seems more vile and insidious for the lack of it!

If the film has one redeeming quality -- and you've gotta dig pretty deep -- it is the hippie-powered soundtrack provided by a group called The Salt Lick. Kind of an odd combination of The Moody Blues and The Loving Spoonful, which I guess would make them The Melancholy Sporks, the haunting theme to this movie will probably stick with you a lot longer than the movie itself. 

The Outlaw Biker movie might have started with Brando's The Wild One, but it really didn't find it's center until Roger Corman's The Wild Angles. Spawning a ton of imitators, the genre quickly flared out and was in a bad downward spiral by the beginning of the 1970's, as producers tried to squeeze just a little more coin out of the old formula, including the use of biker gangs as a simple plot-prop to draw a crowd -- like the Frankenstein's Monster in his later films. A menacing presence, to be sure, but they just kind of sit there and don't do a whole lot, while the plot moves around them. Savage Abduction definitely falls into that category. Coming out in 1972, it speaks volumes of the sorry state the Outlaw Biker genre was in at this time. The end was nigh, and the genre officially died two years later with Northville Cemetery Massacre

For an interesting, informative, and more in depth look at the Outlaw Biker genre, I highly recommend Jeff Dove's dissertation on the subject found right here.

Producer, director and screenwriter John Lawrence was no stranger to the genre. A few years earlier, he gave us Dennis Hopper running amok in The Glory Stompers, where Hopper played the psychotic leader of a gang who was feuding with the not-so-psychotic leader of rival club, Jody McRea (-- who finally got off the beach). He was also the money man behind both The Thing with Two Heads and The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant. Sharp eyes will recognize Sean Kenney from several episodes of Star Trek, including his role as the injured, bump-n-go Captain Pike in the classic Menagerie episode. Psycho Joe Turkel's cinematic career is all over the map as well. Looking like an odd combination of Lou Reed and Frankie Avalon, he played the black-mailing beatnik sailor that Richard Carlson killed in Tormented, was one of Steve McQueen's shipmates in The Sand Pebbles, and also created the replicants in Blade Runner.

This movie ... Oy! this movie ... I understand that it's being re-released by the Troma Classics Line. All I can say is, Don't get suckered in by the cover art or lurid title. As the old saying goes: Never trust a movie that has more than one title; an old trick to sucker paying customers back on the promise that they're seeing something different, when all they're really getting is the same stinky piece of [expletive deleted].

And at last check, Savage Abduction had at least three alternate titles.

Savage Abduction (1973) Cinemation Industries / P: John Lawrence / AP: Eugene Fisher, Carl Lawrence, Harold Shanbaum / D: John Lawrence / W: John Lawrence / C: Bill Davies / E: Dwight Rasmussen / M: The Salt Lick / S: Tanis Gallik, Kitty Vallacher, Steve Oliver, Amy Thomson, Sean Kenney, Bill Barney, Tom Drake, Joe Turkel

Originally Posted: 07/13/02 :: Rehashed: 04/20/09

Knuckled-out by Chad Plambeck: misspeller of words, butcher of all things grammatical, and king of the run on sentence. Copy and paste at your own legal risk. Questions? Comments? Shoot us an e-mail.
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