Riders in the Storm

(Western Color)

Riders in the Storm, a “revisionist” Western that is more a pastiche of cliches than a fresh, coherent story is a B-movie in every aspect: script, direction, acting. Tale of revenge against a greedy scoundrel, who married his wife for her wealth, is video fare all the way, although its producers are giving the film a token theatrical exposure.

Oater begins with the kidnap of Maria (Crystal Owens), the rich, beautiful wife of Hamilton Monroe (Doug McClure), by Billy Van Owen (Bo Hopkins), an immoral hoodlum who earlier doubled-crossed his partner Charlie Jessup (Brett Baxter Clark) during a robbery, sending the latter to prison. Hiding, and in desperate need for cash, Van Owen demands a huge ransom of gold for Maria.

A gambler and womanizer who never loved his wife, Monroe arranges for Jessup's release from prison on the condition that he brings Maria back to him. Jessup agrees, but he says he's doing it for money–and freedom–not love; it turns out Maria was his fiancee until she “mysteriously” abandoned him for Monroe.

Picture follows the predictable pattern with Jessup recruiting three members for his mission: Sandy (Kim Dawson), a tough-talking woman, Dirty Bob (Michael Horse), an expert scout, and sharp-shooter Little Swede (J. David Watson). Once the band is formed, pic settles into a routine, overly relaxed manner with feeble attempts at humor.

It's a rather verbose Western, in which the characters spell out every emotion or idea they have, though their rough language often sounds anachronistic. There is not much action, and the few prevailing shoot-outs are poorly staged and executed.

Shot on location, lenser Massimo Zeri gives the Arizona landscapes pleasant warm colors, but he can't compensate for Biggs' plodding direction and sluggish pace. The movie offers strong parts for three women, all of whom have gorgeous hair and bodies, but they look–and move–like models.

A Filmhaus release of Coldstone Pictures production. Produced by Peter Davy. Executive producers, Robert Genova, Anatoli Savriken. Directed by Charles Biggs. Screenplay, Frank Lee, Biggs, based on Biggs and Tony Gayton's idea. Camera (color), Massimo Zeri; music, Bob Demarco, Ken Rogers; art direction and costume design, Ginny Bowen; sound (Dolby) Brent Beckett; assistant director, Lee.

Running time: 87 minutes.

Billy Van Owen……….Bo Hopkins
Sandy……………….Kim Dawson
Dirty Bob…………Michael Horse
Charlie Jessup..Brett Baxter Clark
Rita……………Morgan Brittany
Maria…………….Crystal Owens
Little Swede…….J. David Watson