There’s an incredible scene in Stone – actually, the entire film is a series of incredible scenes from start to finish. But there’s one sequence that stood out in my mind from the day I first caught the film in 1982 as the unknown-quantity part of a double-bill with The Hills Have Eyes that was playing the Cannon cinema in my old hometown, and it remained fresh in my mind until I saw the film again thanks to the Severin DVD.
Most biker movies will have the ubiquitous scene where a convoy of bikes head down the open road, assorted biker stereotypes showing their flagrant disregard for highway regulations and basic human decency. But in Stone, this ten-a-penny scene is made fresh and authentic and awe-inspiring, as a vast swarm of bikes ridden by bikers who actually look like the real thing head out in formation – and holy shit, they have a coffin with them! As the downbeat orchestral score gives way to Billy Green’s ‘rock ‘n roll’, the seemingly endless line of motorcycles speed silently, somberly down them stretching road, through the epic Australian landscape. It’s a moment of real beauty and surprising poignancy, and the point where you realise that Stone isn’t some run-of-the-mill Hollywood Wild Angels knock-off. My jaw dropped open in amazement at this point and probably didn’t close for the rest of the film.
When the bikers reach the cemetery, we get some glorious, unforgettable dialogue from star and director Sandy Harbutt. After telling the dead biker that “whoever got you’s gonna get got too”, he explains “the reason we’re burying you standing up is so you don¹t have to take anything from The Evil One lying down.” Alan Bennett, eat your heart out.
I have no idea if bikers really are buried upright (or, indeed, sat atop their bikes as in Severin’s other motorcycle masterpiece Psychomania), but I’d like to think they are, and if anyone knows otherwise, I’ll thank you to keep that information to yourself.