• The Peace Killers (Scorpion Releasing) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Scorpion Releasing
    Released on: November 12th, 2019.
    Director: Douglas Schwartz
    Cast: Clint Ritchie, Jess Walton, Paul Prokop, Michael Ontkean, Lavelle Roby
    Year: 1971
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    The Peace Killers– Movie Review:

    A bad dude named Rebel (Clint Richie), or ‘Reb’ to his friends, is the leader of The Death Row Gang, a group of Confederate flag-wearing bikers who love nothing more than causing trouble. One fine day, he and his pals - Gadget (Gary Morgan), Cowboy (John Raymond Taylor), Whitey (Jon Hill) and Snatch (Nino Candido) are riding their hogs through the deserts of Arizona when they stop off at a store. Who does Reb spy? None other than Kristen (Jess Walton), his former biker mama who split the scene to run off with her brother Jeff (Michael Ontkean) to hang out at a hippie commune with its leader, Alex (Paul Prokop).

    Kristen is well aware of what’s happened to other ladies who have had the gal to split from The Death Row Gang, so she knows she’s in hot water now that she’s been discovered. Alex, however, is a bit more naïve and he figures they can have a reasonable discussion with Reb and the boys. It doesn’t work. Before you know it, the commune has been attacked and Alex is quite literally crucified no a giant metal peace sign hung between two telephone poles! Reb and his crew kidnap Kristen and run off with her, dosing her up with acid. Loyal brother Jeff decides to launch an attempt to save her on his own, unaware that a rival biker gang led by Black Widow (Lavelle Roby)!

    However, with Black Widow’s own motives made clear, Kristen may have just fallen out of the frying pan and into the fire as Jeff tries to rally Alex’s hippie followers put down their flowers and doobies and pick up arms to help him save his sister! Oh, and Jeff just might have fallen in love with a woman named Carol (Kres Mersky), so that happens too.

    A really solid slice of cinematic biker trash, The Peace Killers score pretty high on the exploitation-o-meter thanks to some scenes of strong violence and a fair bit of sex and skin. Deserving of its R-rating, the picture moves at a good clip and proves quite well cast. There are some goofier elements here, mind you – Gadget is, well, a gadgety guy and uses some James Bond-like devices a few times in the movie. That kind of sticks out as silly. But otherwise, this works quite well. The script is smart enough to make us think about the ‘does might make right?’ aspect of the movie, its characters openly (and sometimes ham-fistedly) debating the merits of fighting back even if it is against some irredeemably bad people.

    Performances are pretty strong across the board. Clint Richie is a lot of fun as scumbucket biker leader Reb. His character is a garbage human being but Richie keeps him interesting and entertaining, bringing a good amount of menace to the film. Jess Walton makes a fine damsel in distress, and a pre-Twin Peaks Michael Ontkean is pretty cool as the hero of the movie. The supporting also does a nice job here and Lavelle Roby steals pretty much every scene that she’s in.

    The Peace Killers– Blu-ray Review:

    The Peace Killers comes to Blu-ray from Scorpion Releasing on a 25GB disc in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. The opening credits look a bit rough but once we get past that stage, things shape up pretty well. The image is quite clean, showing very little print damage but retaining the expected amount of film grain. Colors are reproduced quite nicely and there’s good depth and detail here. Skin tones look fine and black levels are strong. No problems with any noise reduction or edge enhancement to note.

    The sole audio option is an English language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track. It sounds just fine. The track is balanced, dialogue sounds clear and there aren’t any problems with noticeable hiss or distortion. There’s some decent rumble when the bikes fire up and some good punch to the action scenes. Optional subtitles are offered in English only.

    The main extra on the disc is a commentary with director Douglas Schwartz, screenwriter Michael Berk and actor Gary Morgan. This is a seriously interesting talk with Berk and Schwartz (who are cousins) talking about how, as kids, they made an 8mm film on a camera gifted to them by their uncle, and actually sold a film to CBS! This, quite understandably, led to the two of them having a career in film and to the making of The Peace Killers and how they got funding for that. From there, lots of talk about what it was like on set, having to squeeze all they could out of every penny they had to work with, what works and what doesn’t about the script, casting the picture, Morgan’s character and how he came to be portrayed the way that he was in the film, some of the stunt riding featured in the picture, locations used for the shoot and lots more. It’s a very interesting talk with a lot of good information in it.

    The disc also contains a ten-minute interview with Berk and Schwartz that is also quote interesting. Schwartz talks about problems with his eyesight and how that affected things, and they talk about how they learned to bring in a project with a modest budget by being as resourceful as they could on this and later collaborations.

    Aside from that, we get bonus trailers for Angel Unchained, Cycle Savages, Youngblood and Bucktown (but no trailer for the feature itself), menus and chapter selection. This release also comes packaged with some nice reversible cover sleeve artwork.

    The Peace Killers– The Final Word:

    The Peace Killers is a top-notch biker picture, a rough and tumble mix of action, adventure and exploitation with a pretty high sleaze factor and a game cast. Scorpion’s Blu-ray release is a good one, giving the film a nice presentation and including some decent extra features as well. Recommended!

    Click on the images below for full-sized The Peace Killers Blu-ray screen caps!