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Stone (NR)

Severin Films

One of the first films to give Australia an actual cinematic identity, 1974's Stone, from director Sandy Harbutt, is a rough-and-tumble biker exploitation flick that's widely regarded as the ultimate classic of the sub-genre. It even beats out Easy Rider in many knowing film-circles. The rote plot, about an undercover cop infiltrating a savage band of cyclists to find a biker-killing psycho, is typical of late '60s B-grade stuff. But the reason this works so well, even today, is that it's total motorcycle porn, completely eroticizing every aspect of the machine, in a way the previous biker films were really never able to. The movie, starring Harbutt, Ken Shorter and Helen Morse, offers a view of the bloody world of cycle-gangs that few films dared to depict. This is the dark side of Easy Rider and the American lot, and man, is it worth the ride. Louis Fowler

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Billy the Kid (NR)

Zeitgeist Video

When first-time director Jennifer Venditti discovered 15-year-old Billy sitting alone in a high school cafeteria, she knew he was probably the most interesting person in the room. While the articulate, sensitive outsider describes himself as simply "different in the mind," Venditti avoids labeling him and lets viewers discover how compelling "different" can be. Equal parts naive, noble, awkward and wise, Billy ventures through the world like the lead in his own superhero movie, quoting lines from The Terminator, punching the air like Rocky, and hoping to rescue a "damsel." Those who've endured adolescence will recognize themselves somewhere in the film, and will applaud Billy's bravery facing the trials of first love and fitting in. It's an accomplished and refreshing first film; hopefully, Venditti is just getting started. Jill Thomas

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Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (NR)

Troma Team Video

Who'd have thought director Lloyd Kaufman's Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead would be one of the year's best? I'm almost inclined to say the movie starring Jason Yachanin, Kate Graham and Allyson Sereboff is the best this year. Taking the tenants of bad taste, bad special effects and smart, sly satire to a new level, Poultrygeist cumulates the studio's 30-plus years of cinematic independence. When fast-food chicken restaurant American Chicken Bunker is built on an ancient Tromahawk burial ground, angry spirits resurrect and possess the chickens, customers and Ron Jeremy. Much blood is spilled, and no sacred cow left unslaughtered. Oh, and it's a musical. It's the type of hilarious movie you pass around to friends and that's the mother-cluckin' truth! Louis Fowler


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