“Riders in the Storm,” a “revisionist” Western that is more a pastiche of cliches than a fresh, coherent story, stands as a B movie in every aspect, especially script, direction and acting. Tale of revenge against a greedy scoundrel who married his wife for her wealth is video fare, although its producers are giving the film token theatrical exposure.
Oater begins with the kidnap of Maria (Crystal Owens), the rich, beautiful wife of Hamilton Monroe (Doug McClure). Kidnapper Billy Van Owen (Bo Hopkins) is an immoral hoodlum who earlier double-crossed his partner Charlie Jessup (Brett Baxter Clark) during a robbery, sending the latter to prison. Hiding, and in desperate need of cash, Van Owen demands a huge ransom of gold for Maria.
A gambler and womanizer who never loved his wife, Monroe arranges for Jessup’s release from prison on the condition that he bring Maria back. Jessup agrees, but he says he’s doing it for money — and freedom — not love; it turns out Maria was his fiancee until she “mysteriously” abandoned him for Monroe.
Pic follows a predictable pattern, with Jessup recruiting three members for his mission: Sandy (Kim Dawson), a tough-talking woman; Dirty Bob (Michael Horse), an expert scout; and sharpshooter Little Swede (J. David Watson).
Once the band is formed, pic settles into a routine, overly relaxed manner with feeble attempts at humor.
It’s rather verbose, with the characters spelling out their every emotion or idea, though their rough language often sounds anachronistic. There is not much action, and the few shootouts are poorly staged and executed.
Shooting on location, lenser Massimo Zeri gives the Arizona landscapes pleasant warm colors, but he can’t compensate for Charles Biggs’ direction and pace. The movie offers strong parts for three women, all of whom have gorgeous hair and bodies, but they look — and move — like models.