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Posts Tagged ‘Aussie’

grave_diggersThe term refers to Australia films of a particular genre that were released during home-grown tax advantage days for film producers.

In looking at films during this era I ran across Stone which was made about the same time, but is not an ocker and is much different from other biker movies.  It contradicted the Hollywood biker films of the day and was more of a “thinking man’s” motorcycle club movie that dived into biker values.  The time was 1974 and the film reflected on the disillusionment that ex-servicemen felt after Australia’s earlier withdrawal from Vietnam.

The Australian motorcycle club was called the Grave Diggers.  All members of the club were returning soldiers, either from the Vietnam War or the earlier Korean conflict.  The patch of the club was a skull wearing the hat that made Australian troops famous in both World Wars, the slouch hat.  The patch was first used as an advertising icon for the film, but has since become the patch of the Vietnam Vets Motorcycle Club in Australia and supposedly is the only patch that can be worn across other motorcycle (outlaw) clubs territories without an issue.

The movie was written and directed by Sandy Harbutt, and starts out with the posse cruising by an open-air speech from a politician on environmental issues. They stop to heckle him and a member (Toad), high on illicit drugs, wanders off and climbs onto the roof of the city hall. There he becomes witness to a sniper’s fatal shot of the politician. Over the coming days, several members of the motorcycle club are killed by an unknown assailant, seemingly in an attempt to kill off anyone who might have seen the assassin. A policeman, Stone, is sent in with the intention of posing as a member of the group to try and find out who is behind the killings.  Yeah, it’s farfetched and a typical cinema story. Luckily YouTube has a trailer posted.

Using the biker community, Harbutt was able to assemble large casts of extra bikers which were used in several scenes, most notably the opening burial procession and the fighting sequences. The locations were actual biker hangouts and there are no set shots, giving the film an authentic atmosphere.  The Grave Diggers rode four-cylinder Kawasaki KZ 900’s.  Clearly high speed races around the streets of Sydney mark Stone as a different movie than the typical Harley-based choppers of Hollywood ilk (Devil’s Angels (1967); Hells Angels on Wheels (1967); Easy Rider (1969)).  Stone’s ride was a Norton Commando twin and Harbutt provided some unique angles on-board and behind the various bikes.

Stone is a great example of Australian filmmaking and a biker movie which has achieved cult film status.  If you’ve not seen the movie I suggest you grab a copy and/or see the documentary Stone Forever (1999).  The documentary provides a good background and recreates the funeral run with an estimated 30,000 motorcyclists.

Photo source courtesy of Sandy Harbutt.

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pondeadvt2002_pg6One of the cool things about the internet is discovering a taste of world knowledge while sitting on the peripheral edge.  Often when doing research for blog posts it feels like a mini-journey to me.  For every step forward, I take two to the side or three back before compiling a broad range of information.

Part of my post-election withdrawal therapy has been background research on the only Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club (HAMC) member (Robert G. McClure) to be convicted of four murders in the State of Oregon.  McClure was found guilty of execution-style killings in the small Seventh-day Adventist community of Gaston, Oregon and sentenced to four consecutive life prison terms.  More about this in a future post, but one of the side paths this took me on was across the Pacific to the Australian Crime Commission.  They deemed ‘biker gangs’ a significant criminal threat to their nation.   As a result, the Australian Government is moving forward to ban the wearing of “colors” nationwide (similar to actions taken last month in CA. with the Mongols MC arrests) and they’re introducing laws to take legal action which allows them to confiscate ‘motorcycle club’ assets, including the club brand (“patches”), motorcycles and property.  It’s an interesting tactic for governments to seize trademarked name/brands and property, but I’ll save the far reaching laws with broad definitions and the suspension of habeas corpus rant for another day.

Humble Pie Concert

Humble Pie Concert

It was during my Australian surfing I ran across this little nugget buried in a video clip.  First off, and I’m dating myself here, the musical performance is one of the greats –  Humble Pie (Steve Marriott) – and the song is called “Big Train” or maybe its “Big Train Stops at Memphis.”  The beginning of the video has a member of the HAMC (“Mother”) who shouts to the audience… “One more song and they ain’t going home at all.” Somehow you believe him!

The Australian music festival at Ponde was famous in its own right, but certainly not on the same scale as the Altamont Speedway Festival which headlined the Rolling Stones.  This video was recorded off an Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) late night TV music show called “Rock Arena” back in 1983.  The show was cancelled in 1989.  Others in the video were keyboard player Goldy McJohn, a former member of Steppenwolf, the Bass player was Jim Leverton and the drummer (unseen) was Fallon Williams.  Another one of my “favs” is Led Zeppelin’s song “Whole Lotta Love” which is said to be a direct take off of Marriott’s version of the classic song “You Need Lovin’“. Give it a listen and you’ll see what I mean…

mannum_australia1The Ponde Music Festival ran for 23 years (1979 to 2002) in Mannum, 50 miles from Adelaide Australia, and was hosted by the HAMC.  I find it curious that over the last year there has been a dramatic increase in arrests and negative publicity coming out of Australia on issues with, in Aussie words, “bikie” gangs.  I’m intrigued how “club” attitudes have migrated from supporting a public musical festival to turf wars, firebombs, shootings and combative LE exchanges?  Internet searches reveal little about the perceptions of the festival in the past which started out as a gathering for bike enthusiasts, but expanded over the years into a full-blown top talent multi-day music festival.

 

Video courtesy YouTube, Newspaper photo courtesy of Advertiser Newspapers Pty. Ltd.

All Rights Reserved © 2008 Northwest Harley Blog

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