Throughout the middle 1960s and into the ‘70s, most of my movie-going was at outdoor drive-in theaters. For these basic reasons: It was cheaper, you usually got a triple feature (more for your money), and if you were a roaring pile of teenaged hormones like I happened to be back then, there were always back seat activities with which to pass the time if (a) you were lucky enough to have a date equally inclined toward, er, romance; or (b) if the movie(s) stunk too bad. In the case of triple features there was generally a good chance that at least one of the films on tap was a stinker (which gave helpful incentive toward the back seat thing).
In the summer of 1967, when THE GLORY STOMPERS was first released (or escaped you could rightfully make the argument) Pam and I had been married less than a year and were both only nineteen. Married, though still not adverse to a bit of back seat frolicking.
Which is the only way I can explain how I/we could have seen STOMPERS so many times yet come away remembering so little about it. (Okay, maybe it was some kind of intuitive self-protection thing --- you know, like when your brain shuts out a horrific experience so as not to forever traumatize you.) At any rate, we must have seen STOMPERS at least a half dozen times over the course of that summer and probably part of the next … always as a “fill in” to something else we had actually gone to see. It was awful the first time we saw it and only got worse with repeated viewings. But biker flicks (which Pam hated in general) were big back then so there were plenty of them available to help round out the bill as a “filler”.
Flash forward almost forty years to the other night when cable’s Turner Classic Movies ran a showing of THE GLORY STOMPERS. After I got past the shock of wondering how it could be included in anything under the heading of “Classic”, I couldn’t resist … I DVR-ed it to see how it held up. Not surprisingly, it was as bad as ever. In a sense, I guess you could say it held up good as far as matching my memory of it being so bad.Other than that, what struck me was how much I had totally forgotten about its content. There was Dennis Hopper chewing up scenery like nobody’s business (alternately in a drugged-out haze or frenzy, yet providing the only thing close to true acting found anywhere in the whole damn flick); there was terribly wooden Jody McCrea and sexless Chris Noel as the romantic “leads”; there was menacing Robert Tessier scaring the shit out of you just by being himself … and – even more shocking that STOMPERS being associated with anything termed “classic” - there was Jock Mahoney in an important supporting role! Jock Mahoney … The Range Rider, Yancy Derringer, Tarzan … one of Hollywood’s all-time greatest stuntmen, perhaps second only to Yakima Canutt … I’ve been a huge JM fan ever since I was a little kid, yet I had ABSOLUTELY NO RECOLLECTION of him being in this movie.
Yeesh! Pam and I must have steamed up those car windows far more aggressively than I remembered.
But, ultimately, it didn’t really matter. THE GLORY STOMPERS was gloriously worth missing --- even with ol’ Jock in it.
I might try it again in another forty years or so … But not any sooner.