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Neil Morrissey as Noddy, aka Nick Oddie
Michael Elphick as Inspector Cleaver
Anthony Daniels as Priest
Burt Kwouk as Chinese takeaway owner
Daniel Peacock as Buzzer
I think this may well be the silliest concept for a movie I've come across so far. Made in 1990 and starring a few reasonably well-known actors such as Neil Morrissey in his pre-'Men Behaving Badly' days, Michael Elphick, Anthony Daniels (best known for playing C3PO in the Star Wars movies), plus a short cameo appearance from Burt Kwouk (Cato from the old 'Pink Panther' films) and a brief role from Daniel Peacock of 1980s 'Comic Strip' TV series fame, I was surprised to find that I'd never seen or even heard of this film before.
The story starts with a group of Satanist bikers carrying out a demonic ritual, only to be interrupted by a rival biker gang and murdered viciously. As a result, the demon that the first group were trying to summon, decides to take up residence in a nearby circa-1970s Norton Commando motorcycle that had belonged to one of the deceased.
The haunted bike ends up at a second-hand bike dealer's, and our hero Nick Oddie, known affectionately to his pals as Noddy, can't resist this magnificent-looking piece of machinery despite it breaking his budget. He feels really chuffed with his new purchase - until, he starts to notice some increasingly disturbing quirks: it only wants to start at night, and it sometimes seems to start heading off in some direction other than where Noddy is trying to steer it. On his first night-time ride, as he cruises by a group of outlaw bikers riding in the opposite direction, the bike suddenly goes out of control and ploughs into the other bikes, knocking all the riders off. Noddy is horrified at this but doesn't dare stop, considering how angry the dismounted bikers are looking.
Things go from bad to worse after the angry bikers track Noddy down at a local pub. While he's tangling with them, we see that outside, where the dreaded Norton is parked, it comes to life and trashes their bikes. Then it goes off, riderless, to commit more havoc. We soon discover that the bike likes killing hapless pedestrians and sucking their blood into its petrol tank. Well, what's a poor Noddy to do?
This was a really odd little low-budget affair almost sort of reminiscent of a Troma film but with the quirky Britishness of something like 'Shaun of The Dead' rather than the more brash American style of Troma. It felt more like something from the 1970s than the 1990s, and had more the look and feel of a TV show than a feature film. Having never heard of it before, I'm not sure whether this was something that was ever released in cinemas or if it was a straight-to-video affair - it seems like the type of thing that might have been the latter. Apparently a lot of the actors and sets were recycled from the 1980s TV series 'Boon', a series I never got around to watching back in the day, but those who have seen the series might find the film has a familiar ring to it.
It does look very, very cheap and it may be that the cheapness was intentional - the special effects are possibly the worst I've ever seen, and it may well be that that was what the filmmakers were trying to achieve, in order to make this a send-up of the 'bad horror film' genre. The special effects pertaining to the motorbike consist of making its headlight turn red when it goes into one of its bloodthirsty frenzies, and the headlight lens breaks itself up into jagged shards that are supposed to look like teeth so that it can commit cannibalism on its victims. There's lots of shots of the bike rearing up in riderless wheelies, which is supposed to look menacing, and later it sprouts some dodgy looking sharp spikes. There are also such charming special effects as Noddy's deceased friend Buzzer, one of the victims of the evil Norton, haunting him by metamorphosing into a talking turd in Noddy's toilet. Yes, I kid you not. There is literally toilet humour in this movie.
The humour is very uneven throughout the film, but particularly funny is the scenario where Noddy decides to beg a local priest to help him by exorcising the demon. Obviously it's initially a bit hard to get the priest to take him seriously, but once the priest sees the bike display some of its evil behaviour, he's on the case. He turns out to be a really cool priest, what with riding a pretty impressive trike - yayy, biker priest - and his impressive collection of razor sharp shuriken-style 'throwing crosses'.
The soundtrack is cheesy hard rock stuff as you'd hope/expect in a cheesy biker-themed film, including a closing-title song about 'she runs on blood instead of gasoline'. It sort of reminded me at times of one of my favourite bad biker horror movies, 'Psychomania' (1973) (if you like this genre, I highly recommend that movie - it's one I can watch time and again), and I wondered if maybe the makers of this film also liked that movie and were paying a bit of homage to it.
The actors all seem to be enjoying their roles, even the bit-part ones, and it's fun seeing a young Neil Morrissey with long hair and ponytail, and the surprise appearance of 'Cato' as the surly owner of a Chinese takeaway called 'Fu King'.
I also loved that they used a Norton Commando as the villain - back in 1990, the year this film was made, I had a boyfriend with the selfsame model, of 1972 vintage, and I/we loved it. What a great bike that was, although it leaked oil like a sieve. We got so much respect everywhere we went - one time while filling up in a petrol station, a middle-aged man walked by with his daughter of about 5 and said to her 'Now, that's a REAL bike, none of that Japanese rubbish!' Well, I like Japanese bikes as well, but there's nothing like a vintage Norton. Thankfully, ours was happy enough to run on petrol and it never killed passers-by and drank their blood (at least, not that we knew of...)
Definitely one to bring out late at night, maybe post-pub, and just pack up all sense of credibility for a while. Not great or a classic, but a bit of good mindless fun.
Also on Ciao as thereddragon.