Because of the deep chord these films struck with audiences, they were wildly successful at the box office. EASY RIDER was made for $400,000 ($2.5 million today) and it made $60 million in global returns (or $388 million today). By comparison, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014) was made for $170 million and grossed $768 million world wide. For every dollar spent, EASY RIDER returned approximately $155.00, where as GUARDIANS returned only approximately $4.50 per dollar spent. Somebody get Kevin Feige in off of that ledge.
Partnering with veteran TV and indy movie actor Ross Hagen (who co-wrote and produced), neophyte director Nagy decided that the movie he wanted to do to launch his career would be a completely odd blend of both RIDER and BUNCH, with some awkward comedy thrown in for good measure.
Speaking of the opening credits, they have got to be the most bizarre and annoying credits I have ever witnessed. Clearly made by people who were experiencing the fruitful bounty that Timothy Leary endorsed, they show in slow motion and freeze frames a guard intimidating and stabbing a black prisoner who is pleading for his life. This is done with no music, but instead uses heavy reverb causing the screaming dialogue to slowly echo across your speakers. This goes on for an agonizing full 2 minutes! If that doesn't seem like a long time. Take a stopwatch to the closest angry infant you can find and start the countdown. Cash money says you will never make it to 120 seconds.
This movie is slower than a southern drawl on a hot day, but for some reason it manages to lure you in with it's drug-addled, somewhat charming ineptitude. The music, all of which I'm sure are stolen tracks, is an utterly bizarre hodge-podge of styles. During the orgy scene (yes, Kelly Thordsen is involved in an orgy), in addition to the disorienting hand-held camera and rapidly edited close-ups, we get a shrill, cheery ukulele number on the soundtrack! I can only think that the music was a temp track that never got a finished score. Matter of fact, the whole film looks like it could have been a work-print that was rushed out the door.
Ivan Nagy followed this up with another crime comedy titled BAD CHARLESTON CHARLIE (1973), a roaring '20s period piece reteaming Hagen and Thordsen and the odd 1975 thriller DEADLY HERO before moving into TV land. He is known to horror fans for his 1993 slasher film SKINNER starring Ted Raimi, but really he is mostly remembered for being Heidi Fleiss' boyfriend.
As it stands, this redneck hippy movie may not be the best way to spend 90 minutes of your life, but there's something about it that will keep you watching if you are in a forgiving state of mind.