Monday, January 14, 2019

Deadly Smize

Sure, slashers are fun and zombies bring endless possibility, but is there anything more satisfying than 90 minutes of a perfectly timed crazy lady Lifetime thriller?

Quick Plot: Jennifer Higgins is a successful New York photographer. Over the course of one opening montage, she loses it all, beginning with her very mind. While shooting her younger model boyfriend and seeing him flirt with another woman, Jennifer goes into a manic state, grabbing a knife and swinging wildly. 

One year later, Jennifer has moved to LA to start over. She lands a teaching position at a high school, the perfect hunting ground to find and craft her newest adonis. That comes in the form of nerdy mama's boy David, a shy senior revealed to be a modeling savant.

David is fairly easygoing about his transformation, quickly starting a relationship with fellow geek-turned-Lifetime's Next Top Model Caitlyn. Jennifer is naturally inflamed by his wandering eye, and it doesn't take long for her to craft a diabolical (and hilarious) scheme to photoshop lingerie-clad Caitlyn posing with a porn star and a baseball bat. This being 2018, releasing such not-actually-incriminating-photos to the public destroy the young woman's career.

Note that this comes after Jennifer had already murdered a popular student who made eyes at David and staged it as a suicide AND strangled a rival agent and set it up like a gang murder. Jennifer, you might say, is troubled. 

Directed by the "Stalked By" specialist Doug Campbell, Fatal Fashion (aka Deadly Runway) is pretty much everything you want from a Lifetime obsession-based thriller. Multiple homicide, weirdly modern haircuts, random attempts at high's all here, in its truly aggressive glory. 

This is the kind of movie that explains Jennifer’s insanity with a random anecdote about how her college boyfriend died in a car crash while she was taking pictures, hence, her sexual preference was arrested in time and, you know, we got Fatal Fashion. From its loose understanding of human psychology to its positively puritanical view of the modeling industry, this is a stupid good time.

High Points
I'm an easy mark for a ridiculous montage, and Fatal Fashion boasts MULTIPLE of the best type: makeover, picnic first date, and extremely unsexy lovemaking involving mostly clothed people

Low Points
I get that David is supposed to be a malleable boy, but couldn't he have even a bite sized portion of personality?

Lessons Learned
Spanish coffee is for lightweights

The best way to stay under the radar when ordering drinks for your underage boyfriend is to flag the waiter from across the room to shout for two more alcoholic beverages, even though you've just taken a single sip from your first

Sexy modeling is all about showing no emotion

Bless the grounds of Netflix for hosting Fatal Fashion. In no way will this movie make you smarter or deepen your soul, but it's a silly, over the top TV movie at its best. Pour yourself a Spanish coffee, throw on Netflix, and enjoy. 

Monday, January 7, 2019

On the Street Where You Savage

Rape revenge is a complicated, complicated subgenre. Do it wrong (and more importantly, for the wrong reasons) and you’ve created something truly detestable and aggressively alienating to 51% of the population. Do it right and it will probably be perceived by most that you’ve done it wrong. 

Savage Streets falls somewhere in the middle, but when you’ve got Linda Blair serving up fierce cross-bow vengeance, you can be forgiven for quite a bit.

Quick Plot: High school underachiever Brenda loves nothing more than her girl squad and younger sister Heather (a baby-faced Linnea Quigley!), who happens to be a sweet, virginal, and deaf. After Brenda and her friends play a fairly harmless prank on a sadistic quartet of punk bullies and their sweet Chevy, poor Heather pays for it via a brutal gang rape.

The cops are fruitless in their investigation, and the school is even worse. You don't expect much when you have John Vernon playing your principal, but even in 1984, his talkdown to Brenda ("you're a bright girl, pretty face, good figure") screams of inappropriate and useless authority figures. 

Nope, if Heather is to be avenged, it's a leather jumpsuit-clad Linda Blair to the call.

Savage Streets is a troubled, occasionally troubling film, but it's also incredibly entertaining. While her hair doesn't quite match the insane levels of Summer of Fear, Linda Blair still owns her stylish not-actually-bad bad girl character to the point that I wish we had an entire franchise wherein her Brenda roamed the streets of California and beyond, serving up elaborate booby trapped-based justice to razor blade earring-wearing punks.

There really is a fresh energy about Savage Streets, even if certain subplots fizzle out due to, apparently, the film taking so long to film that some actors left the production. Sure, Brenda's preppy triangle-haired blond rival never gets a payoff, but considering it means we get an extended fully clothed gym shower fight scene filled with random naked girls half-heartedly serving as backup fighters just to flesh out (teehee) the screen, can anyone really complain?

I would have appreciated more full-out girl gang-ness instead of Blair having to wreak her vengeance solo, but I still get to, you know, watch Linda Blair zip up a black leather jumpsuit and outsmart a terrible gang of rapist murderers. It's not Shakeaspeare, but it sure is fun.

High Points
Chekhov's Law of Bear Traps (if you introduce a bear trap in the first act, you damn well better catch someone in it by the fifth) is indeed in place, and with a weekend sale price tag of $37.99 to boot!

Low Points
That being said, denying us the actual sight gag of a rapist bully IN said bear trap is a bit unfair, especially when our villains deserve far worse

Lessons Learned
Unlike peach brandy, ice cream gives you zits

Tough men can put cigarettes out on their palms

Evil bullies believe in the power of uniform so much so that they wear the same exact clothes every working day

Hey, I'm not saying Savage Streets is a good movie by any conventional means, but it's zany in a more girl-powered Death Wish 3 kind of way, with the added bonus of Linda Blair serving up strength, style, and bear traps.