Friday, May 14, 2010

I Want to Ride My Bicycle

Not surprisingly, May is National Bike Month and even less surprisingly, that reminds me of a few good--or just entertaining--horror films.

A bicycle holiday through the French countryside sounds like a lovely idea, but the two lovely ladies at the center of Robert Fuest’s 1970 thriller have some pretty serious troubles ahead, and only part of that stems from the fact that both are wearing chafe-inducing hot pants. After a cranky are-we-there-yet squabble, the good girl Jane and flirty Cathy go their separate ways and a mysterious underwear thief pops latter’s bicycle tires. Yes, that’s literal, but let it lead your mind down a much darker path and enjoy this tense little cat-and-mouse tale unwind.

In the early 1990s, one could always count on Full Moon Entertainment to deliver something entertaining to VCRs across the country. Enter Demonic Toys, a messy--albeit enjoyable--horror featuring foul-mouthed baby dolls, hungry jack-in-the-boxes, satanic rituals, and, most relevant, rude little blond girls in gas masks on tricycles. Yes, that last part does send a significant chill upon first glance (particularly if, like me, you’re a tad uncomfortable know...little blond girls in gas masks on tricycles) and like most Full Moon films, the scares don’t quite take themselves seriously long enough to merit any lasting effect but still...rude little blond girls in gas masks on tricycles. 

3. The Shining

Is it possible to walk through an antiquated motel with ugly carpeting and long hallways and NOT find yourself bemoaning the absence of a hot cycle? It just seems like the best possible mode of transportation to help navigate a haunted mansion. Maybe not the fastest escape from drunk daddy and his ax, but at least it takes you back to childhood. 

4. 2001: A Space Odyssey

Who knew Stanley Kubrick was such a bike enthusiast? Witness his second (or chronologically first, but set in the then-future, get the idea) foray into bike horror in a more conceptional manner with 2001. The idea of tandem bicycles is already a tad unsettling--something about romantic exercise in a weirdly long vehicle just seems off to me--so hearing H.A.L. sing so coldly about “A bicycle built for two” in his dying cyber breaths lands on already chilled ears. Especially when you picture a lovely lass named Daisy riding a two-seater with a surly computer. The visual is a challenge in itself. 

5. The Wizard of Oz

Jaws. Darth Vader. The Wicked Witch of the West.
All supervillains. All equipped with incredibly iconic musical themes that speak to the very terror they instill in children, drunken sailors, Jedis, and Munchkins. Though it’s Mrs. Gulch--not the green-faced sorceress--who spends an extended time on a banana seat, children of all ages (and of all generations for 60+ years) have felt the hairs stand up on their trembling arms when those fast-paced notes blow by like a biker caught in a tornado. After all, this is a woman who wanted to kill one of cinema’s most efficient mutts!

6. The Toxic Avenger

Hey kids, tired of your mom forcing an ugly, socially unacceptable bike helmet on your sensitive adolescent head? Throw a little Troma her way and help yourself in the process with this 1984 splatter classic, wherein naughty drunk driving teens make serious sport out of running over pedestrians and cyclists. The best victim? A passing preteen (double points) whose safety gear can’t protect his noggin from the heavy skidmarks of a full-speed tire.

So a comet is nearing your planet and anything running on electricity wants to kill you. Hope you got a 10 speed! Because how else can you escape a clown-faced mack truck, determined lawnmower, and homicidal soda machine shooting out Pepsi cans as if they were bullets? The very thought makes me want to sign up for spin class in order to prepare.

Ah, the innocence of young love, perfectly captured in Higuchinsky’s surreal J-thriller by an amorous couple’s daily bike rides through the town. The makings of a lovely relationship expected to bloom into prom dances and tenuous hand-holding...if only it wasn’t for the village-wide infection that renders residents suicidal or snail-like. 

It was a dark and lonely night on the highway heading into Hobb’s End, and though he may have conquered T-Rexes and played the antichrist, even Sam Neill got skittish when a John Carpenter lookalike in washed-out denim peddles by in the wee hours of a haunted morning. 

10. Prince of Darkness

Despite an assumed short wind from years of chain smoking, I think we can safely assume John Carpenter appreciates a pleasant bike ride from time to time.  Witness this 1987 horror, the second entry in his loose Apocalypse trilogy, wherein a homeless Alice Cooper uses half a bicycle for a casual back alley impalement. 

11. Pee-Wee's Big Adventure

Not necessarily horrific, but the inclusion of sharp-fanged clowns with suspect medical degrees is enough to terrify anyone, and considering their main motive in Tim Burton's classic 1985 film is to destroy the coolest bicycle ever to grace the silver screen, I'd say they more than earn a place in this list.


  1. Aww. Those muppets really made me smile.

  2. Teehee. Muppets never fail to make me smile either :)