12/4/08

B.L.O.G Presents: Savage Streets (1984)

Hello all and welcome to the premiere edition of B.L.O.G. or Beautiful Ladies of Genre if you're not into the whole brevity thing. I'm starting this section because there's nothing I like more than watching a movie with a kick ass chick in it, and if she's hot too, well, there's nothing wrong with that. So each week check back here for tales of ladies who get away, get even, and know how to get down to business.

This week's film stars a true icon of genre film. From her pea soup spewing performance as little Regan in The Exorcist  to the 2008 Thriller All is Normal, Linda Blair has rarely strayed away from genre pictures. Tonight's feature came out in 1984 right on the heel's of Blair's '83 women in prison classic Chained Heat. It once again found Linda firmly in tough girl territory as she prowled the...

Savage Streets (1984) starring Linda Blair, Robert Dryer, Johnny Venocur, Linnea Quigley, and John Vernon. Directed by Danny Steinman.

The mean streets of '80's L.A. are filled with punks, new wavers, and throngs of teenage street gangs. Take the Scars for example. Lead by Jake (Dryer) with his cronies Fargo and Red, and their nerdy pet Vince (Venocur) they prowl the streets in their 57 Bel Air Convertible looking for trouble. First they almost hit Heather (Quigley) as she wanders into traffic, but her sister Brenda (Blair) pulls the deaf girl to safety just in time. The leather jacket toughs "apologize" and try and hit on Brenda and her posse of nubile friends, but they get shut down cold. 

Later that night to prank the boys, Brenda and her pals boost the Bel Air and take it for a joyride, but Jake doesn't know how to take a joke. The next day at school The Scars show up to shakedown a guy for drug money, but they get run off by Principal Underwood (Vernon). While they hang out under the bleachers they spot Heather going into the gym alone. First Red goes and talks to her lulling her into a false sense of security, but when the other guys show up it's clear that the deaf girl is anything but secure. They drag her into a bathroom and Jake forces Vince to rape the girl.

Heather is soon discovered and taken to the hospital in critical condition. Much to Brenda's frustration the crime is barely investigated. To try and unwind from the day, Brenda and company go out to a local teen bar to hangout, and who should show up but The Scars looking for trouble again. They harass Francine, Brenda's friend who is about to get married, and she ends up stabbing Jake in the shoulder. 

Now if Jake didn't like having his car boosted, he surely didn't care for getting stabbed. Soon The Scars are on the lookout for Francine, and they finally track her down. They chase her around the city until they corner her on the top of a bridge. Jake gets a hold of the bride-to-be and hurls her off and watches as she lands far below with a sickening thud. No longer able to deal with the things the gang has been doing, Vince runs off to the hospital where he confesses everything to the comatose girl, and Brenda overhears him. That night Brenda takes matters in her own hands. Dressed in a head to toe leather outfit and armed with a deadly crossbow, Brenda hits the streets to hunt down The Scars one by one. 

Film Facts

--Scream Queen Brink Stevens also auditioned for the role of Heather which went to Quigley. They had driven to the auditions together. Dana Plato also auditioned for the role.

--Billy Idol was considered for the part of Vince the rapist. 

--The opening song "Nothing Gonna Stand In Our Way" was remade for the soundtrack to Transformers:The Motion Picture.

--For this film Linda Blair learned how to fire a gun and drive a car. Never mind that she never shot a gun at anyone in the film and is barely seen driving. 


The Bug Speaks
This movie has just about got everything that was great about the '80's. If it had only come with come jelly bracelets, an Asian print bandanna, and a pair of parachute pants, they it really would have been a complete set, but what it does come with is just about as good. The look, feel, and sound of this flick is pure cheese the way that hasn't happened since the Reagan era came to an end. Brenda's gang looks like they just finished being the multicultural extras in the Love is a Battlefield video, and Jake and his boys were stock examples of the Stray Cats meets The Clash greasers that roamed the streets of '80's cinema. 

What we're really here to talk about today is our B.L.O.G girl Miss. Blair. As Brenda the perfectly permed and pouty teen out for revenge, she played the role to the hilt. It did seem s bit confusing that she didn't try and track down her sisters rapists, but the girl needed proof. I suppose she's just not the type to go off getting revenge without the facts to back it up. So it takes until Francine meets her untimely demise and Vince confesses to really make her riled. When she gets mad, she gets really mad. The scenes where she hunts down the gang armed with a crossbow and wearing skintight leather are priceless. She kills each one with utter aplomb, and the final showdown between Brenda and Jake is appropriately harrowing (and ends with a real bang). Also it should be noted that while Miss Blair did not "show the goods" as it were as much as in some of her other films, there is a very nice bathtub scene which any fan of her assets will enjoy.

This film gets a special bonus for having future scream queen Linnea Quigley starring as Heather. She underplays the part of the deaf/mute very well, and from seeing her later roles in Sorority Babes in the Slime Bowl-o-Rama and Corpses are Forever,  one has to wonder what happened to her acting chops. Did she lose them or did they wither away from never getting a chance to be used? That being said she is very good in the small bit of screen-time she has in this film, and it was a kick to see her in it.

As far as the other actors, it's always nice to see John Vernon in anything. The veteran actor whose biggest claim to fame might be his turn as Dean Wormer in Animal House always provides a stalwart job. He had precious little screen time as the Principal here, but he was as good as ever delivering indelible lines like "Go Fuck an Iceberg!". Robert Dryer puts in a very fun over the top performance as gang leader Jake, but Johnny Venocur as the sniveling gang pet (and put upon rapist) really steals the show with his portrayal of Vince. 

Danny Steinmann who would go on to again write and direct his next feature, Friday the 13th Part V:A New Beginning, did a fine job getting solid performances and pacing the movie well. Yet there must be a special shout out to Cinematographer Stephen L. Posey for some of the more inspired shots in the film. Posey would go on  to direct some episodes of genre TV faves Deep Space Nine, Buffy, Xena, and one of my personal guilty pleasures Hercules (damn you Sorbo for being so entertaining). 

The thing about this film is that like a lot of the features I write about it's not traditionally good. It's entertaining, funny (more often that not unintentionally), and so full of camp that I'm surprised Jason Voorhees did not show up to try and cut some people in twain. To put it in a nutshell, I loved it. It was just the jolt of '80's bad coupled with vengeful chick that I wanted it to be. It won't go down in the books as a rival to Death Wish, which the description on the box implies, but it is a solid little time capsule of  concentrated stupid that soothes the soul of a cheese lover like myself. 

I'd also like to note that I picked this up in an independent record shop (Earshot there's your one and only shout out.) and paid the bargain price of $5.00 for it. It doesn't seem like much of a deal until I tell you that this was a brand new two disk special edition with three (!) audio commentaries, a second disk of interviews and bonus footage, and a book that shows off all the alternate posters and titles for the film. So if you're looking at seeing this film I would say that the total package there makes it one to consider if you can find it at the right price. 

Bug Rating

6 comments:

  1. All right, a shout-out for John Vernon! Whooooo!

    (Although he'll always be Fletcher from The Outlaw Josey Wales to me.)

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  2. Great Review ~ I will definitely be adding this to the Netflix Queue, unless of course I can find such a great deal as you did!

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  3. Oh yeah, Linda Blair was a hottie. This is a cool sleazy flick. Great review.

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  4. the sneering (homo-phobic) snobDecember 7, 2008 at 8:08 PM

    where to begin with linda blair, well how about when i sneaked in to see the exorcist in 74`, i was only 12 myself at the time and although the film scared the crap out of me i still fell madly in love with linda. When savage streets was made she was truly stunning and even now that she`s pushing 50 that cheeky little smile of hers still drives me wild with lust and desire, she`s such a cheeky little bird she`ll probably still be desirable when she`s 80!!.

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  5. Awesome movie. Awesome, awesome, awesome. 80's nostalgia and super-cheese out the whazoo. Love it. I'm actually working on a review of it myself for sometime in the near future. Great write-up.

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