Saturday 24 February 2024

Savage Streets (1984)

There’s nothing like a sleazy 80s Linda Blair exploitation movie and Savage Streets is a very good one.

It belongs to the female revenge genre which had taken off in a big way in the 70s (not just in Hollywood but in other countries as well).

You have to remember that this movie was made in 1984 when hysteria about violent crime, youth crime and gang crime was still at its height. And that’s the background to this movie.

Brenda (Linda Blair) leads a girl gang. They’re pretty wild but they’re not evil. Brenda has a kid sister, Heather (Linnea Quigley), who’s a deaf-mute. Brenda is devoted to her sister.

Brenda’s gang has a run-in with a very nasty male gang led by Jake (Robert Dryer). Brenda and her pals steal Jake’s car and take it for a joy ride. Jake vows to get revenge for this insult.

Jake and his gang rape Heather and leave her for dead. This ignites a chain of escalating violence. It also causes tensions within Jake’s gang. Vince (Johnny Venocur) is more of a hanger-on than a fully-fledged member of the gang but he was the first to rape Heather. Now he’s feeling guilty and that worries Jake.

As an indirect result of this one of Brenda’s gang is murdered.

Brenda is now out for revenge and she’s not fooling around. The stage is set for a series of showdowns with Jake and his cronies Fargo (Sal Landi), and Red (Scott Mayer).

It’s a pretty violent movie and the climactic showdown is both violent and gripping.

The rape scene is fairly harrowing but had it not been harrowing the entire plot would have made no sense. We have to believe that it was so brutal that Brenda has been pushed right over the edge. We also have to believe that Brenda is now so highly motivated that she will have no hesitation in single-handedly taking on three big mean guys.

One thing I like is that Brenda’s campaign of revenge is reasonably plausible. She knows she would have no chance at all against three guys. Her plan, if it works, will allow her to deal with them one at a time. She has the advantage of surprise, and she has acquired some useful accessories which will even up the odds considerably. There’s none of the unrealistic nonsense of one small female beating up a whole bunch of big guys with ease. Brenda is no super-woman. She relies on out-thinking the bad guys.

There are plenty of exploitation elements. Linda Blair has a memorable bathtub nude scene. There’s a shower scene with about thirty naked women, featuring a lot of frontal nudity. There’s an epic catfight between Brenda and a blonde cheerleader who thinks Brenda is trying to steal her boyfriend. What makes this scene awesome is all the naked chicks in the background, two of whom are having their own private catfight for no reason whatsoever except that naked girl catfights add a bit more exploitation value.

There’s some memorable dialogue.

This movie had a very troubled production history but surprisingly it ended up being perfectly coherent, well-structured and well-paced.

The acting is fine. John Vernon is good in a small part as the hardbitten school principal. Linda Blair is the star and she displays her star quality. She’s nicely intense and manages to persuade us that for all her swagger Brenda has a good heart. But if someone close to her gets hurt she’ll make the perpetrator pay.

There’s a very very 80s feel to this movie which gives it plenty of nostalgia appeal today.

There is some question as to who actually directed this movie. Danny Steinmann gets the directing credit. Apparently some early scenes were directed by Tom DeSimone but depending on which source you rely on it seems that quite a bit of the movie was in fact directed by producer John Strong.

If you like your 80s exploitation fast-moving violent and sleazy Savage Streets is the movie for you. A must-see for Linda Blair fans. Highly recommended.

The Code Red Blu-Ray (which looks great) comes with a swag of extras - lots of interviews and no less than three audio commentaries.

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