Vice Squad (Anchor Bay, 1982) D: Gary Sherman, w/ Season Hubley, Wings Hauser. Rating: NNNN; DVD package: NNN
Reform School Girls (Anchor Bay, 1986) D: Tom DeSimone, w/ Wendy O. Williams, Pat Ast. Rating: NNN; DVD package: NNN
Trash doesn't get better than Vice Squad.
The story runs dusk to dawn. While streetwalker Princess (Season Hubley) is out turning kinky tricks, a vice cop (Gary Swanson) is hard on the trail of psycho pimp Ramrod (Wings Hauser), who's killing his way to Princess, whom the cops blackmailed into framing him. It's a recipe for non-stop sex and violence.
Barring a little clumsy action, everything here works beautifully. Director Gary Sherman goes for sleaze and realism in his rundown motels and clubs filled with hookers, pimps, leathermen and junkies. At the same time, he gives it a stylish urgency through smart use of unusual camera moves.
Hauser's Ramrod is one of the screen's great villains, full of energy, sadistic joy and mindless self-confidence. Hubley's got the acting chops to deliver Princess as both hardboiled and human. Swanson buries his tough-guy cop under a layer of workaday boredom.
According to Sherman, in a highly informative commentary, everything in the movie actually happened, and he prepared the film by riding with vice cops for 13 weeks.
The cherry on the sundae is the screaming-mad theme song. "Bang bang, shoot 'em up, talkin' 'bout crime. Somebody just bought it in the Neon Slime." It begs for a cover version.
Reform School Girls' theme, So Young, So Bad... So What, likewise cries out for revival, but the movie is no Vice Squad, even if both are on Anchor Bay's Cult Classics label, which is shaping up to be a good source for obscure trash.
The problem with making a spoof of an already over-the-top genre is that if you do it right you just have a better genre flick, wrong and it's boring. RSG does it wrong. There isn't nearly enough sex and sadism.
On the upside, there's ample nudity, some amusing black humour, notably the kitten-stomping, and the mandatory plot: abused prisoners fight back. There's also Pat Ast's demented camp acting as evil matron Edna, and magnetic punk singer Wendy O. Williams as the tough girl. Williams did her own stunts, according to director Tom DeSimone's alternately informative and embarrassed commentary.
It's an okay time-waster, but if you want to taste the true spirit of women-in-cages flicks, I recommend Jesus Franco's Ilsa The Wicked Warden. By recommend, I mean avoid like the plague.
EXTRAS Both movies: director commentary, galleries. Widescreen.