Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Film Review: SAVAGE STREETS (1984, Danny Steinmann)

Stars: 3 of 5.
Running Time: 93 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Linda Blair, John Vernon, Linnea Quigley (RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, NIGHT OF THE DEMONS, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4), Robert Dryer (CYBORG 2, THE BORROWER).
Tag-lines: "An eye for an eye."
Best one-liner: "Welcome home... ASSHOLES!"

I generally go in to a Linda Blair flick intending to yuck it up at her lack of talent and the fact she, at 24, looks like an odd middle-aged woman with a baby's face, but, invariably, I end up feeling kind of bad about it. See ROLLER BOOGIE.

Now, SAVAGE STREETS is the kind of 80's revenge flick that certainly hits all the right notes, but doesn't hit them loudly, obnoxiously, laughably, bafflingly, or Italian-ly enough to become a bona fide trash classic. There's a lot of good stuff, though: John Vernon as the trash-talking a-hole principal ("Go fuck an iceberg!"),

Linda Blair cackling with a crossbow and swiggin' peach brandy, extreme close-ups on crotch grabs, gang gals voraciously devouring ice cream, and the exchange: "Too bad you're not double-jointed!" -"Why?" "Because if it were, you'd be able to bend over and kiss your ass goodbye!"

There's a lot of great unanswered questions, too, like: Where did Linda Blair get bear traps?; If the gangs have no problem murdering and raping and axing people, why do they show up to class?; Why do Linda and her friends yell for her DEAF sister when they can't find her?; Why are there bizarre homages paid to GREASE?; and After all of the mayhem, destruction, crossbows, explosions, murders, and whatnot do the cops show up only at THE END? Ordinarily, a top-notch flick of this genre, like SWITCHBLADE SISTERS or CLASS OF 1984, would take those questions and commence shoving them up your ass, but here, in SAVAGE STREETS, they sort of linger in the air like the rotten leftovers of ROLLER BOOGIE and EXORCIST II.

And, I'm sorry, when your director's greatest credit is FRIDAY THE 13TH V: A NEW BEGINNING (for the non die-hards, yeah, that's the Jason movie WITHOUT JASON)... well, nevermind. I have no follow-up. I guess I just wanted to get that out there. There shoulda been more John Vernon, though, so, yeah. Three stars.

-Sean Gill

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