Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Bikers, Babes and Colonel Sanders

Hell's Bloody Devils was one of those gritty motorcycle movies that was so popular with the kids of the late 1960's, right?



"Crimes, man! They commit crimes!"


Not exactly. This was actually a secret agent film where a detective goes undercover to defeat a Neo-Fascist group that was operating in California. In fact, the film was originally entitled Operation M and was partially backed by Harland Sanders in exchange for some bizarre screen time in which all action stops while Mr. Sanders shills for his Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants.



"When in Kentucky, guests of Hell's Bloody Devils eat at KFC."


However, by the time this film hit theaters, the young people weren't interested in films about secret agents and fried chicken. The filmmakers found it difficult to get someone to distribute the film, so they decided to shoot gratuitous motorcycle scenes and tack them onto the picture.



"Let's commit some crimes, man!"


They then changed the name to Hell's Bloody Devils. Mr. Sanders probably wouldn't have committed funds and food to the project if he knew all of this would happen. Promoting a family chicken restaurant in a film with filthy bikers and a 

sketchy title wasn't something he had intended. Things would get a bit worse, however. 


Some scenes were filmed at the notorious Spahn Ranch, which had previously been a successful old west shooting location for countless westerns. By 1969, it had become a filthy, derelict shanty town, populated by filthy, degenerate cult members who were followers of Charlie Manson.



Yeah, certainly nothing shady happening here...


Charlie Manson and his "family" were present during filming, but this was well before their eventual murderous crime spree. Mr. Manson allegedly tried to get involved with the production, but other than mooching fried chicken from the KFC catered craft services table or being a pest to the crew, he had little involvement with the production. Rumors of Charlie Manson rubbing elbows with Colonel Sanders were preposterous; a busy businessman like Sanders would have only been on set during his own scene. He would not have been involved in the rest of the shoot other than to arrange for KFC staff members to take the agreed upon chicken and fixings to the set each day.


Hell's Bloody Devils didn't set the box office on fire. Its effect on Kentucky Fried Chicken's sales figures was probably not very big either. Colonel Sanders wouldn't find much success in film, with his other appearance in the movie The Phynx only garnering slightly more attention. He would pass away in 1980.


To complete this strange story, here’s a picture of two legends enjoying a chat- Colonel Sanders and Joan Crawford.



"Wire hangers? To threaten the chickens with? That's just crazy."


It's unclear what they're discussing here, but in a strange twist of fate their companies would merge years after they had both passed away; PepsiCo would eventually buy Kentucky Fried Chicken.