Film Review: Savage Streets (1984)

Release Date: August 31st, 1984 (West Germany)
Directed by: Danny Steinmann
Written by: Danny Steinmann, Norman Yonemoto
Music by: John D’Andrea, Michael Lloyd
Cast: Linda Blair, Linnea Quigley, Robert Dryer, John Vernon

Ginso Investment Corp., Motion Picture Marketing, 93 Minutes, 80 Minutes (cut version)

Review:

“Go fuck an iceberg!” – Principal Underwood

Savage Streets is a film that stars both Linda Blair and Linnea Quigley and it isn’t a horror film. Sure, some horrible things happen and characters are faced with dread and terror but this is more like a “women in prison” movie mixed with an urban violence film.

It’s sort of strange that it has that “women in prison” vibe, as it takes place primarily in a high school and the urban environment around it but there are too many similarities to ignore, the biggest of which is a big brawl in the gym showers. There are nude bodies and fisticuffs like the greatest of “women in prison” pictures.

The story sees this group of rough high school girls go up against this gang of male punk rock assholes. Well, one of the guys is in the gang very reluctantly and he always has reservations about all the horrible stuff the other gang members force him to do. One of which is raping a deaf girl in the school bathroom, the other is when he is present for a pregnant teen getting thrown off of a bridge just before her wedding night. Yeah, this is a hard and gritty film that is more grindhouse than Sixteen Candles.

If you are into unapologetic, hardcore, ’80s action mayhem, then this is a film for you. Linda Blair may deliver some cringe worthy lines but it’s the ’80s and almost all the dialogue in real life was cringe worthy in that decade.

This isn’t a memorable film, even for grindhouse standards. But it does hit its mark in the right way and it is a good time killer on a Sunday afternoon or on a night where you are binge watching a bunch of similar films from this era.

It’s low budget and almost feels like it was directed by an Italian horror master transplanted to Los Angeles for this shoot. The whole sequence where Linda Blair fights the punk gang in their hideout feels like something Lucio Fulci or Lamberto Bava would do.

Savage Streets is worth your time if you are into low brow, ultraviolent, ’80s pictures with a good amount of boobage.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: Other ’80s high school urban violence movies: Class of 1984Class of Nuke ‘Em High, etc.

Comic Review: Vampirella Archives, Vol. 1

Published: December 22nd, 2010
Written by: various
Art by: various

Dynamite, 390 Pages

Review:

I’ve read a few stories over the years with Vampirella in them. I have never gone back to check her out at her earliest though. Luckily, there was this archive edition of her first seven issues.

If you also haven’t read the earliest Vampirella stuff, then this book could be a bit of a disappointment. Not because it is bad but because what Vampirella was, in her original incarnation, was very different than what she would become.

The character was originally imagined as a horror story hostess, similar to Vampira or later, Elvira. She was created to set up short horror stories in an anthology collection, which is what her magazine was for its first eight issues. After that, she would go on to be a character with her own life and adventures.

While the original concept was really cool, I can see why they would change and evolve. Reading the seven issues collected here, the format starts to get derivative and actually loses its luster pretty quickly. Some of the short stories are fun but some just feel like quickly crafted knockoffs of stories you’ve seen before.

I really liked the art style in these old school Vampirella stories though. It kept that pulp feeling going strong well beyond the decades where it peaked.

This collection is definitely historically important but it isn’t a necessary read for those wanting to experience Vampirella. The second volume gets more into the Vampirella stuff most people would want to read. You know, where she is a total badass and gets her hands dirty while wearing only about four square inches of wardrobe.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: Lots of old horror and pulp magazines. I would continue on from here and keep reading further into Vampirella, as she goes on to be a leading character in her own stories, as opposed to just hosting tales.

Comic Review: Tiki Surf Witches Want Blood

Published: December 4th, 2016
Written by: Will Penny
Art by: Nik Poliwko

Sex and Monsters, 40 Pages

Review:

What a unique comic! I kind of wish there were more of these but since this also serves as a cocktail recipe book, a lot of preparation and drunk nights would probably have to happen before any other issues could be created.

If you are into Tiki culture and love Tiki drinks, this is a must own. Especially if you love comics too.

The art and the story are hokey yet fantastic and feel like an authentic work of pop culture from a bygone era. The art is incredibly Tiki-esque but also has the feel of old Tales From the Crypt comics.

Two surfer dudes fly their seaplane to Diablo Island, a supposedly cursed place, but old fisherman tales and boogeymen aren’t going to keep these two guys from surfing the most killer waves on Earth.

When they do arrive, they are greeted by talking shrunken heads. Then they find themselves surrounded by topless island women who are surprisingly hot, look like white girls and know English. They decide to party with the girls and drink their potions, which are magical Tiki drinks. They soon discover that they are to be sacrificed to some powerful island god. However, the two girls that like the surfer dudes must concoct something to appease the god’s appetite and save their new surfer boyfriends.

The story is written as a way to drop in Tiki drink recipes. Every time the surfers encounter some new and bizarre twist, there is a drink to go along with it.

This comic is a rare and uncommon find and I really wish there was more stuff like this out there. Kudos to Will Penny and Nik Poliwko, the two guys behind this cool, bizarre and spectacular experience.

Now I need to go buy some rum and get to work.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: This is pretty unique but if you’re into Tiki culture, this goes good with B. Clay Moore’s Hawaiian Dick series.

Film Review: Black Mama, White Mama (1973)

Also known as: Chains of Hate (alternate), Women In Chains (Canada), Hot, Hard and Mean (UK), Chained Women (Philippines), Frauen in Ketten (Germany)
Release Date: January 19th, 1973
Directed by: Eddie Romero
Written by: H. R. Christian
Based on: an original story by Joseph Viola, Jonathan Demme
Music by: Harry Betts
Cast: Pam Grier, Margaret Markov, Sid Haig

Four Associates Ltd., American International Pictures, 87 Minutes

Review:

“Some jive-ass revolution don’t mean shit to me!” – Lee Daniels

This film has been on my radar for years but I never had the opportunity to watch it until recently. I expected it to be a “women in prison” film but with the girls on the run and chained together while they spit racist shit back and forth at each other. However, it is a much better movie than that and to be completely honest, I was surprised about how good this movie actually is.

But really, I shouldn’t be surprised about the film’s quality, as Pam Grier has “the thing”. I can’t really define “the thing” but it’s this quality certain actors have that just makes them standout and rise above everything around them, as a beacon of absolute awesomeness, even if they are in a film that is total shit. Luckily, this film isn’t total shit, so it’s even better than just it’s great star.

Grier does have some help though because Margaret Markov, the white girl chained to her, is really damn good in her role too. You actually care about these girls and their separate agendas where in any other movie like this, you really wouldn’t give a shit and just hoped that violence or a titty were going to pop into the next shot.

Black Mama, White Mama also features Sid Haig in what is now one of my favorite roles he’s ever played. He’s basically a white cowboy criminal kingpin that wears colorful shirts, a sweet hat and rules his particular island of the Philippines with a big posse and big guns.

This starts as a standard “women in prison” movie, except that it takes place (and was shot) in the Philippines. Then there is an escape when the prison bus carrying the girls is attacked. One wants to go one way, to reach a boat with a lot of money, the other wants to go the other way, to her boyfriend and to help fight a revolution to free the island from tyranny. There are police in pursuit, a Filipino kingpin in pursuit, an American kingpin in pursuit, revolutionaries in pursuit, dogs in pursuit and a whole lot of sexy women running away from all of it.

Black Mama, White Mama is exceptional when looking at it within the context of being some throwaway, run of the mill, sexploitation, grindhouse, “women in prison” movie. It feels less grindhouse-y and more like something Cannon Films would make in the ’80s.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: Other Pam Grier movies from the era. It’s not a standard “women in prison” film and it’s not an urban action drama but any Grier film will still probably flow well with this regardless.

Film Review: Hellhole (1985)

Also known as: Hell Hole (alternate spelling)
Release Date: April 26th, 1985
Directed by: Pierre De Moro
Written by: Aaron Butler (as Vincent Mongol), Lance Dickson, Mark Evan Schwartz
Music by: Jeff Sturges
Cast: Ray Sharkey, Judy Landers, Marjoe Gortner, Edy Williams, Mary Woronov, Terry Moore, Robert Z’Dar

Arkoff International Pictures, 90 Minutes

Review:

This is a film that I didn’t even know existed until recently. Somehow it evaded me in countless pillages of mom and pop video stores throughout the ’80s and ’90s. But it does have some people I like in it, so why not check it out?

The film sees a woman murdered by some crazed madman that looks like a middle aged punk rock mobster hybrid. Kind of hard to describe him but it’s the ’80s and this isn’t even a B-movie it’s more like a D-movie. Anyway, the woman’s daughter sees the murder, is then pursued and chased until she falls about ten feet and gets amnesia. She is then locked up in an insane asylum where they do crazy experiments that turn female patients into killer zombies. Also, the man that murdered her mother is there, working as an orderly.

In a lot of ways, this is an absolutely awful movie. However, it isn’t all a waste because it’s got some great character actors in it and frankly, it’s full of so much ’80s horror cheese that it should satisfy you, if that’s your thing.

The film has Mary Woronov, who was great in Death Race 2000Eating RaoulRock ‘n’ Roll High SchoolNight of the Comet and so many other B-movies. We also get Marjoe Gortner, who I enjoyed in Starcrash and as the villain in American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt. Then you have the “Maniac Cop” himself, Robert Z’Dar in an early role before he’d star in a slew of B-pictures, usually as a psycho killer… okay, always as a psycho killer. But he’s a guy with serious gravitas, a good presence and a chin that would make Bruce Campbell’s take a month off.

I’ll be honest though, there isn’t a whole lot here, apart from the cast, that is all that great. However, I was a bit surprised with how well it played out for what it is. At its core, it is a women in prison movie with a horror twist. There are boobs, lesbian stuff and whatnot. Sadly, there isn’t as much of it as you’d expect from this type of film. But hey, we get killer women prison zombies, so things balance out.

Hellhole isn’t a complete waste of time and it is only ninety minutes. If you didn’t get your fill of Woronov being a psycho in an operating room in Night of the Comet, then this should be up your alley.

Film Review: Tonight For Sure! (1962)

Also known as: Meet Me Tonight for Sure
Release Date: October 25th, 1962 (Los Angeles)
Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Written by: Francis Ford Coppola, Jerry Shaffer
Music by: Carmine Coppola
Cast: Don Kenney, Karl Schanzer

Searchlight Productions, Premier Pictures, 69 Minutes

Review:

“The Harem Club, home of the most beautiful girls in burlesque presents: The most beautiful girls in burlesque!” – Announcer

Every director has to start somewhere and for legendary auteur Francis Ford Coppola, this was his directorial debut. There is nothing to be ashamed of about this, however. It really just sort of fits in with the nudie cuties of the time – none of which are good movies.

Yes, this is an awful film but it is basically a softcore sex picture without any sex, really. It just follows two guys around doing dumb shit and then is constantly interrupted to show a girl shaking her juggies for no real reason other than people wanted to see bare boobies on the big screen after the motion picture industry wasn’t forced to adhere to outdated government mandated morality codes. Film was now free to be art and sexploitation pictures flourished.

To be honest, Coppola didn’t show any real signs of his talent with this movie. He hadn’t fully been exposed to the tutelage he’d get from B-movie King Roger Corman. Regardless, this still helped him develop the tools and skill set that would lead to his magnum opus The Godfather, just ten years later.

The cinematography on this film was handled by Jack Hill, a man that would go on to direct several pivotal exploitation films. His directorial work includes the Pam Grier movies Coffy and Foxy Brown, as well as a personal favorite of mine, Switchblade Sisters.

Compared to other nudie cuties, this one is pretty standard. Now while I don’t enjoy it as much as Ed Wood’s Orgy of the Dead, it still fits well within this bizarre and short lived genre. Also, it was a launching pad for one of the best directors of the last half century.

For this being what it is, even with such a low rating, I can’t run it through the Cinespiria Shitometer. It works for its genre, which was a genre not known for its quality. Plus, presenting a cornucopia of fabulous titties gets you off the hook.

Film Review: …And God Created Woman (1956)

Also known as: Et Dieu… créa la femme (France)
Release Date: November 28th, 1956
Directed by: Roger Vadim
Written by: Roger Vadim, Raoul Levy
Music by: Paul Misraki
Cast: Brigitte Bardot, Curd Jurgens, Jean-Louis Trintignant

Éditions René Chateau, Kingsley International Pictures, 95 Minutes

Review:

“If I were your husband or your father I’d give you a good spanking.” – Eric Carradine

…And God Created Woman is a film that made a lot of people uncomfortable in 1956. Well, probably not the French, as they are a lot more comfortable with sex than people in North America. Regardless, it was incredibly racy for the late 1950s but it was ahead of its time. Also, it made Brigitte Bardot an international superstar.

The film was sort of a passion project for its director Roger Vadim. In fact, Bardot was his wife and this is essentially a movie created to pimp her out to the world as a sex kitten icon. While Vadim was quite older than Bardot, aspects of their relationship or at least, his understanding of it, came to the forefront within the picture through the character of the older gentleman Eric Carradine (Curd Jurgens).

The story follows Juliette (Brigitte Bardot), an eighteen year-old orphan that has a lot of sexual energy and isn’t the least bit ashamed by it. She continually flirts and has no issue lying about nude. The film is sort of a love square, as it has one more participant than a love triangle. The three suitors are the older and wealthy Carradine. Then there are the two brothers, the eldest is Antoine (Christian Marquand) and the youngest is Michel (Jean-Louis Trintignant). Carradine tries to coerce Antoine into marrying Juliette, to keep her close by. While Juliette seems to love Antoine, it is the younger Michel, who is infatuated with her, that convinces her to get married. Juliette plays all sides against each other without caring much about how it effects them. She just wants sex and fun and doesn’t have much of a moral compass.

While everyone in the film and audiences all act surprised by Juliette’s behavior, she really doesn’t seem much different than many eighteen year-old girls. Granted, this film is over sixty years old, however.

I can’t imagine what it was like in 1956, experiencing this film when there was nothing really like it before. It is certainly a trendsetter and it changed movies forever. For that, it deserves its place in history and should be regarded as significant.

However, as a motion picture, it has a myriad of problems.

To start, the pacing of the film is pretty terrible. It feels very disjointed and more like a collection of random scenes from this girl’s life. Also, it is hard to decipher what the hell is going on with the characters and their true motivations. Everything is emotional and responses to emotion without much character exposition. It’s poorly written, poorly executed and just not that interesting. No one is even that likable and the film is more or less, just a showcase of Bardot’s physical assets.

The locations are beautiful and alluring but they are displayed through basic cinematography and shots that aren’t too interesting. Some of the landscapes are lush and appealing but the straightforward and mundane style of the camerawork and the framing of scenes seems like a big missed opportunity to create something with more artistic merit.

The only thing this film has going for it, is hope that the viewer will be just as mesmerized by Bardot as the male players in the movie and her director husband. While she is attractive, she is very one-dimensional and mostly uninteresting. She did get better in time but in …And God Created Woman, she can’t command a movie as its star.

Criticism aside, it was well worth a watch to experience this historically significant picture. It just didn’t garner enough interest, in my opinion, to ever really warrant a second viewing, let alone be considered a cinematic classic.