Thursday, April 19, 2012
Northville Cemetery Massacre (1976)
Even for the exploitation sub-genre of biker movies, 1976s Northville Cemetery Massacre is an odd one.
Initially filmed around Michigan locations during 1972, it took several more years to make it into theaters. Allegedly ex-Monkee Mike Nesmith provided not only songs for use on the soundtrack, but money to help finish the post-production. The film makers hired two actual Detroit area biker clubs, The Scorpions and The Road Agents, for the film which adds a dose of realism.
It was co-written and directed by then newcomers William Dear and Thomas L. Dyke. Dear would go on to a still flourishing career including shorts for Saturday Night Live in the early 80s and directing increasingly family friendly feature films such as: Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann, Harry and the Hendersons, and Angels in the Outfield.
The bikers in Northville Cemetery Massacre play against type, even aiding an elderly couple with auto trouble in the first few minutes. But this doesn't gain them any favor with the local sheriff who promptly frames them for a rape which was committed by the cops and sets up wrong headed reprisals. Gritty, violent, and ultimately rather down beat the film delivers much for the modest budget.