By Richard Winters
My Rating: 2 out of 10
4-Word Review: Violent pimp kills prostitutes.
Princess (Season Hubley) is a business woman who is having some financial trouble and thus decides to go back to being a prostitute in Hollywood in an effort to support her young daughter. She becomes aware that her friend Ginger (Nina Blackwood), who is also a prostitute, has been killed after getting beaten-up by a violent pimp named Ramrod (Wings Hauser). Tom (Gary Swanson), a police detective, gets her to agree to be wired, so that she can get Ramrod to incriminate himself when she goes back to his place for a rendezvous. The sting works and Ramrod is arrested and put into police custody, but he’s able to escape and spends the rest of the night chasing after Princess and determined to exact a revenge on her while the cops remain always one-step behind and unable to apprehend him.
This was Gary Sherman’s fourth theatrical feature and third horror one. He had started out with British cult hit Raw Meat in 1972 about a group of underground cannibals living in a London subway tunnel was met with rave reviews and fans, but his subsequent horror foray Dead and Buried and Phobia, which he co-wrote only, didn’t do as well. This one is more of a sleazy thriller meant to ‘inform’ the viewer about the brutalities of street life, but is really just an excuse to be exploitive and get cheap points for nudity and violence with characters that are cliched and situations highly derivative.
My main issue was with the prostitutes themselves for instance Ginger who runs away from Ramrod and hides out in a seedy hotel only to let him into her room the minute he comes knocking at her door. Once inside he immediately kills her while asking ‘I can’t believe you were that stupid’ and I felt like saying the same thing. It’s hard to sympathize with characters when they do incredibly dumb things and the scene would’ve worked better if Ramrod was only able to get in by crashing through the window, or breaking down the door, but having her allow him in shows no common sense especially from someone that is supposedly ‘street smart’.
This then brings up the second problem that I had, which is the fact that these women have absolutely nothing to defend themselves with in case things get ugly. They should all have guns, knives, or the very least some pepper spray especially if they’re supposedly ‘street smart’, but instead if things get bad they’re virtually helpless as is the case of when one of the male customers decides to rob Princess of her money and all she can do is give him some veiled threat that her pimp would come after him, which seemed almost laughable. Another scene has her being attacked by Ramrod where she manages to get her hands on a metal pipe and she uses it to hit him twice with it and then drops it to go hide somewhere, but why not continue to hit him until he’s either dead, or comatose? She hated his guts for killing her friend, so why back-off from giving it to him when she had the chance? At the very least, if she is going to run-off, at least continue to carry pipe, so she could use it for protection when he gets back up.
The motivations of the Princess character made no sense. She’s supposedly this L.A. businesswoman living in a nice suburban house, who’s now in financial trouble for whatever reason, but why turn to prostitution? There seemed to be hundreds of other income avenues she could’ve considered before leaping into streetwalking. If it was a high end escort gig where the male clientele could be filtered and scrutinized so it would not just be any scumbag and the prices would be high enough and in a safe neutral area, so she would just have to service one a night instead of ten, then maybe. However, here she’s forced to do one after another submitting that whatever crazy kink they wanted in whatever scuzzy locale they took her to. If she was on drugs, or teen runaway with no money, it might be a little more understandable, but the film portrays her as being smart and educated and she somehow ‘chooses’ to do this, which for me made her seem completely insane and therefore not any one that I could relate to.
The film does have some great acting by Hauser, who also sings the closing song, and Gary Sherman is good as the detective as he doesn’t have the chiseled features of a Hollywood good guy, but instead is more non-descript like how most policemen look, which I liked. Sunset Boulevard, where most of it was filmed, gets captured in a cool way giving it a surreal presence where all the action takes place exclusively at night and once the sun rises all the dark characters go symbolically back into their caves. There’s even a nifty car chase, but overall it’s flat, and predictable, and only for those who enjoy sleazy B-movies.
My Rating: 2 out of 10
Released: January 22, 1982
Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes
Director: Gary Sherman
Studio: AVCO Embassy Pictures
Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Video, YouTube, Tubi