• Road Of Death

    Released by: Something Weird Video

    Released on: N/A

    Director: Rene Martinez Jr.

    Cast: Jack Birch, Carol Connors, Joe Banana

    Year: 1973

    The Movie:

    For some of us, mysterious Florida based filmmaker Rene Martinez Jr. will always hold a special spot in our hearts. He did, after all, direct that cinematic gift that keeps on giving, The Guy From Harlem, in 1976 and his name is also attached to 1979’s The Six Thousand Dollar Nigger starring the mighty Wildman Steve. These films are at least somewhat coherent, however, especially when they’re compared to Rene’s inaugural offering, Road Of Death.

    Direct your eyes, for a moment, to the image above this text if you haven’t already gazed upon it in wild eyed wonderment. Note the text… ‘It had to be told sooner or later… we’re telling it NOW!’ and the image of a biker riding his chopper out of a giant skull, two ladies appearing to be in some sort of sexual ecstasy on either side with that tantalizing warning on the left noting that this film is indeed for adults only. This movie looks awesome, right? How can you go wrong with something like this? If it’s even half as amazing as that image, which is legit and replicates the art found on both the one sheet and the press book for the movie, then it’s got to be pretty great.

    But it’s not. No, it’s not great. It’s not great at all. When the movie begins, we meet some bikers. One of the bikers is getting ready to fight the current leader of the bikers so that he can take control of the gang. They fight, and it sucks. Later, we meet up with The Joe Banana Band, a gang of skuzzy rock and rollers who wear matching shirts on stage and play in front of a gigantic Chiquita Banana prop. We’re treated to not one but two of their tracks, which will be replayed on the soundtrack over and over again throughout the movie.

    With the rock n roll out of the way, we segue into the main ‘plot’ of the movie wherein two members of the band, lead singer Joe Banana (played, apparently, by Joe Banana) and guitar player Frank (played by Jack Birch, Thora’s dad!) hang out in a house together with their girlfriends. Joe is banging Dena (Lea Vivot), who may or may not be European, and Frank is banging Lisa (played by Deep Throat star Carol Connors), who may or may not have fallen asleep in the tanning machine and bleached her eyebrows blonde. These two couples have sex in front of one another and sleep in the same bed together, and then they decide to go out for a picnic. After a remarkably long sandwich making sequence, they head out into the wilderness where they’re spotted by those bikers we met earlier. One of them watches the chicks as the couple make out and paw one another and says to the others ‘Let’s get us some of that turkey ass, man!’ at which point they do just that. Sort of. First they drive around in the sand on their bikes a lot. But eventually they get there, attack the dudes, and one biker carves his name into Lisa’s ass. Joe might be done for, but no, not Frank, he gets up and the bikers split – but one of them has dropped his wallet in the chaos and so Frank knows exactly who he is and where he lives. He decides to go visit his cousin who runs a gun shop, where he’s hooked up with a .44 Magnum and a bullet proof vest. Now armed to the teeth, Frank decides that it’s payback time and heads out give those bikers a taste of their own medicine!

    It’s bizarre how hypnotic this movie is considering how little actually happens in the first half. You’ll probably be bored by the movie’s initial forty-five minutes, where the bikers sort of fight and hang out with chicks and stuff – once Jack Birch and Joe Banana are on the scene though, watch out, all bets are off. Birch’s screen presence is so bizarre that, coupled with Carol Connors ‘girl from outer space look’ and stoned out over tanned acting chops, the movie quickly becomes something entirely unique. More than just a blatant though poorly timed rip off of the popular biker movie craze that was sweeping drive-in’s around the country, this movie somehow manages to take would be rock stars and will be porn stars and turn them into victims of something horrible.

    No one deserves to have a biker’s name carved into their ass (this was made a year after Last House On The Left which features a similar and far more effective scene) so when Frank rips off his shirt and wants revenge, we’re right there with him. Sure it might take him some time to get around to it, but he’s got to make sure he’s properly equipped to take on this horde of fiends.


    Taken from a beaten and battered 35mm print, Road Of Death doesn’t really look great here but it’s watchable enough in spite of the rampant color shifts that occur frequently throughout the movie with fairly hallucinogenic results. Detail is mediocre, colors are faded and print damage is constant – but nobody interested in a movie like this is going to let that stop them from watching it.

    The English language Dolby Digital Mono audio is about on par with the video quality, it’s rough but it’ll do. For the most part the dialogue is fairly clean and hey, those Joe Banana Thing tracks come through well enough to get your foot tapping.

    You wouldn’t think there’d be any extras here but once the movie ends, let the DVD-R play and you’ll find a few fun bonus trailers tossed on to fill up the disc.

    The Final Word:

    It’s hard to put into words the allure that a film so freakishly fucking horrible as Road Of Death can have but the film really is hypnotic in its nearly indescribable awfulness. Something Weird’s DVD-R doesn’t look or sound all that great given the countless source related issues, but the constant color shifts and bizarrely patterned print damage just sort of add to the film’s hallucinatory qualities.