In the ’60s it seemed like everyone was getting in on the act. Most of the films were low-budget quickies. But even filmmakers like Russ Meyer touched on the genre. Meyer made Motorpsycho! in 1965. It was made just before Meyer’s classic Faster Pussycat Kill, Kill! and followed Alex Rocco (Moe Green from The Godfather) and Haji as they teamed up to chase down an evil motorcycle gang who raped Rocco’s wife and murdered Haji’s husband.
Peter Fonda first got associated with the motorcycle genre in Roger Corman’s cult classic The Wild Angels. Fonda would later make the classic movie Easy Rider. Corman had Peter Bogdanovich re-write the script from a Charles B. Griffith script and Fonda and Bruce Dern filled out the lead roles. Fonda and Dern are looking for Dern’s stolen bike. They get into a ton of trouble before Dern gets hurt and ends up in the hospital. Fonda goes after Dern and then things get worse. Nancy Sinatra and Diane Ladd co-starred.
Tom Laughlin’s popular character Billy Jack first appeared in The Born Losers which pitted Billy Jack against a gang of outlaw bikers. Tom Laughlin would go on to make three more Billy Jack movies. Even the godfather of gore Herschell Gordon Lewis got into the act with She-Devils on Wheels in 1968.
The genre was almost dead by the time Australian filmmaker George Miller made Mad Max in 1979. In a near dystopian future, gangs have taken over the highways. Mel Gibson (Mad Max) has killed off a member of a vicious motorcycle gang and incurs their wraith. The film slowly build to it’s violent conclusion and sets up several classic sequels.
Today the outlaw biker genre is non-existent with the exception of a few odd homage films like Hell Ride by Larry Bishop and the Sons of Anarchy TV show.