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. 

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