This week, the oddest DVD to appear on release lists is:
“Easy Rider: The Ride Back”
Either an imaginative effort to extend the hippie myth of the original or a flimsy attempt at exploiting an iconic, generation-defining work of counterculture cinema, “Easy Rider: The Ride Back” (due out on DVD Tuesday) is a knockoff that’s sure to get some attention based on the audacity of its concept.
Four decades after hippie bikers Wyatt “Captain America” Williams and sidekick Billy (Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper) set out on their choppers looking for America, director Dustin Rikert (“Thriftstore Cowboy”) has cobbled together a sequel-prequel of sorts that follows Wyatt’s family through various trials and ordeals from the 1940s to the present day.
Focused on the Williams family’s love for motorcycles, the loose-knit story hinges on a cache of Captain America’s belongings that his brother Virgil (Chris Engen) kept after Wyatt’s murder on the highway. Decked out in his brother’s signature leather jacket and shades, Virgil mounts his chopper decades later and decides to take “the ride back.” In the process, he runs into a clichéd procession of eccentrics, coke freaks and potheads, including a walking, talking ‘60s stereotype with the gimmicky and portentous name Wes Coast (Jeff Fahey).
There’s also a flashback to the rather convoluted tale of an old geezer, Hickcock “Wild Bill” Williams (Newell Alexander), who suffers night terrors from his experiences in WWII and is now wheelchair bound and cared for by his daughter Shane (Sheree J. Wilson), who apparently has some dubious history with Wes Coast.
Filled with implausible connections to the original “Easy Rider” and some rather mundane, meandering diversions involving Captain America’s family history, this low-budget effort is mainly relevant for underscoring the raw, rebellious spirit of originality that propelled “Easy Rider.”
“Easy Rider: The Ride Back” is rated R (for some strong sexuality, nudity, drug use, violence including a rape, and for language) and runs 95 minutes. It’s being released by Kino Lorber.
- Dennis King