Rebel on the Highway: A Biker Movie for Bikers, by Bikers
A lot of hype has been circulating on social media outlets lately concerning the soon-to-be-released movie, “Rebel on the Highway.” This independent film, unlike many before it, is unique in that there are no professional actors, no overt violence or sexuality and no big movie production company dictating the direction.
“Rebel” is the dream child of Charlie Brechtel and is co-written by Charlie and his wife, Sabrina. It is co-produced by Brechtel, Frank Verbeck and Dennis Sanfilippo. The actors are real-life bikers and famed musicians. Brechtel and Sanfilippo have a deep background in the music industry. Brechtel, originally from New Orleans, has played with John Lee Hooker, Gregg Allman, Dr. John and Deacon Jones, among others. Deacon Jones is in the movie along with some other musicians, most notably Charlie Musselwhite, Guitar Mac and Lester Chambers, who plays the Blind Bluesman.
Filming has been ongoing in locations including California, Louisiana, Wisconsin and New York. The final scenes were filmed in and around Calaveras County in California, in the scenic foothills of the Sierras. This location has been a favorite of moviemakers, including the big studios, for many years. To list a few, consider “Back to the Future Part III,” “Baby Doll,” “The Big Country,” “Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry,” “Pale Rider” and “High Noon.” Television series also found the Sonora area appealing and such greats as “The Big Valley,” “Gun Smoke” and “The Wild, Wild West” were filmed here.
It’s no coincidence that the area is also home to Dennis Sanfilippo, Charlie Brechtel and director Cheryl McIntire, whose son Sean is behind the camera. Co-producer Frank Verbeck is no stranger to this area either. He has a home in Angels Camp and recently completed another biker genre movie,” Outlaws and Patriots.” In that movie, two rival motorcycle clubs unite to fight terrorists.
Director Cheryl McIntire is also an actor and makeup artist. Among her credits are roles in “Obsidian Hearts” and “Living by the Gun,” and producing and directing other films including “Deadly Crush,” “Outlaws and Patriots,” “Obsidian Hearts,” “Lockhart: Unleashing the Talisman” and “Greeley’s Field.”
So what is “Rebel on the Highway” about and who exactly is in this movie? Well, as stated before, no professional actors are cast in the movie. For the most part, the bikers play themselves. That list includes the likes of writers and photo-journalists Rogue, Felicia Morgan, motorcycle gypsy and Mayor of Fun, Bean’re, biker musician Charlie Brechtel and more. Some of the bikers are playing roles like engine builder Berry Wardlaw (Accurate Engineering), who plays the archangel Michael and Frank Verbeck, actor and director, who plays the devil. I actually have an ideal part, playing the role of the biker god in the movie. Not exactly typecasting, but I’m happy to give it my all. Blues musician Charlie Musselwhite plays my archangel Gabriel, along with my constant side-kick, Milwaukee biker Jim Mead, who plays Raphael. Famed Hammond B3 organ bluesman Deacon Jones is cast as the Voodoo King. Also, bike builder Nicky Bootz of Melbourne, FL, has a vital role as one of the Devil’s sidekicks.
The movie is a product of the creative mind of Charlie Brechtel, and he travels all over the country with his pal Big G, plagued by strange occurrences and confusing encounters with Satan. It’s a rich plot with many twists and turns, culminating in an epic race to save Charlie’s soul from the devil. It’s the age-old struggle of good versus evil, God versus Satan. Racing for Charlie’s salvation is none other than top gas fuel racer, Bandido Rockstone, on his famous Turtle Bike.
We shot the final scenes the last week of October, filming in San Andreas and Angel Camp. A call for extras went out for the Saturday race scene, filmed at The Dam Ranch, near Angel Camp. Over 100 bikers rode up Pool Station Road in the early morning hours, lining up on a single-lane path that leads to a quaint house, one of several on ranches owned by Dennis Sanfilippo. The film crews were positioned along the roadway and a drone was used for some aerial shots. It was a crazy scene, as the Devil and Rockstone raced along the narrow path at high speed with spectators lining both sides of the road. It was a race signifying the triumph of good over evil.
Other scenes included a blues jam session filmed in San Andreas, God and Raphael riding up Pool Station Road to meet with Gabriel, who was holding Charlie Brechtel and Big G at an intersection, and the Voodoo King, played by Deacon Jones, in a vital scene inside the house. It was a great experience shooting these final scenes, culminating in a Halloween party at the Hellbent MC clubhouse in Sacramento on Saturday evening. Part of the magic in casting this movie was the way things seemed to come together. Without too much forethought, some motorcycle clubs effortlessly melded into character as happened with the representative clubs representing god and the devil. The Saints MC in Milwaukee was god’s chosen club. Meanwhile, Hellbent MC in Sacramento backed up the Devil. These are real clubs and the fit was natural and perfect for the script.
I can’t tell more because I don’t want to give the plot away, but this is certainly a film that could achieve cult-classic status, just because of who is in it. There are even some cameo appearances by Easyriders editor Kim Peterson and Woody Woodruff, owner of the Buffalo Chip.
Watch for premieres of this independent film coming next summer.