“It’s A Revolution Mother”: Mondo-rific countercultural late 60s documentary footage of bikers, hippies and peaceniks

By on November 8, 2016

It’s a Revolution Mother — originally released in late 1969 as Biker Babylon — is another mondo-style documentary (a “Documentary of Love”) which in addition to introducing us to a group of outlaw bikers also features footage from an anti-Vietnam War March on Washington and an appearance by comedian and activist Dick Gregory, cut together with footage from yet another late 60s outdoor rock festival. Another fine example of no-budget drive-in sleaze is now streaming as part of our Something Weird collection on Night Flight Plus!

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The man behind Biker Babylon was filmmaker Harry E. Kerwin, another South Florida-based film director who — along with fellow Floridian filmmakers like Barry Mahon, William Grefé, and K. Gordon Murray — was another pioneer of exploitation film.

Kerwin primarily worked in Florida, where he had already shot his mostly sexploitation-type skin flicks, including Strange Rampage, Girls Come Too, and My Third Wife George (1968).

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Girls Come Too — which was also released as How I Became A Nudist — came about after the Supreme Court ruling that allowed full-frontal female nudity to be shown.

Kerwin didn’t have enough footage to complete the film and so he edited in footage from a film by fellow filmmaker Irving Klaw, an earlier-made and much tamer nudie flick called Nature’s Sweethearts (Klaw was probably best known for directing Teaserama).

The resulting film featured the well-endowed Playboy magazine pictorial starlet Morganna.

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For Biker Babylon, Kerwin seems to have originally intended to shoot footage of a biker gang (er, “motorcycle club”) who were based out of New Jersey, but perhaps he decided there wasn’t enough of a story there.

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Kerwin then turned the rest of the film into a Mondo-style documentary by adding politically-tinged footage from other aspects of the hippie counterculture, including a huge Washington D.C. peace march which took place in November ’69, and a post-Woodstock rock festival, adding lots of fully-clothed hippies frolicking in the mud (apparently he couldn’t get the rights to feature the bands or their music, so he featured the music of the Aliens, who may or may not have been one of the bands featured onstage).

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The footage of the bikers is the most engaging part of the film, since Kerwin’s camera simply captures them speaking their minds and talking about how they’ve been hassled by cops, misunderstood by the straight society and how they really only want to express their “love” for each other.

They also piss in beer cans, get into fist-fights with citizens who seem to be minding their own business and also have a grope-out session with a biker chick who gets cooking oil smeared all over her naked body (it’s barely NSFW, depending on where you work, of course).

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There’s some talk of a weekend freakout being planned where they discuss taking speed and LSD, and a wild beach party where a man gets whipped with chains.

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The footage of the protest march in DC — where we’re treated to an appearance by cultural icon Dick Gregory — also features an “anti-government, anti-establishment, anti-Vietnam War, pro-rebellion rant,” apparently written by Tom Casey, another filmmaker (he directed Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things in 1971), which is delivered by an uncredited deadpan narrator who sounds like he’s auditioning to be Jack Webb’s replacement in TV’s “Dragnet.”

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After making this film, Florida is where he would also later direct the drive-in sleaze he’s probably better known for, including Sweet Bird of Aquarius (1970), the hillbilly horrorfest God’s Bloody Acre (1975), the sleazy Tomcats (1976) — it was also released as aka Getting Even, Deadbeat, and Avenged — and Barracuda (1977), his last film.

Kerwin worked in many different areas of the independent film business — he also did the makeup effects for Love Goddesses of Blood Island, and Sting of Death, wrote the screenplay for Playgirl Killer and worked as a production manager and producer on numerous other films.

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Kerwin’s brother William “Bill” Kerwin also starred in many of his films too (and is known for his starring turns in Blood Feast and Two Thousand Maniacs).

Check out It’s a Revolution Mother — aka Biker Babylon — and the rest of our exploitation films from Something Weird over on our Night Flight Plus channel!

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.