Sunday, February 01, 2015

Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers

One of director Fred Olen Ray’s most notorious movies, probably on the basis of its title (suggested by his Camp Motion Pictures bosses) and its inclusion on MAXIM’s list of Top 20 B-Movies, HOLLYWOOD CHAINSAW HOOKERS is not as much fun as you hope.

Shot in fewer than six days on short ends and about $50,000, its thin plot loses steam less than an hour in. Since the whole thing runs only about 75 minutes, this is not as deadly a detriment as it seems, but the film never is as funny or clever as you’d like. All actresses, besides Ray’s then-wife Dawn Wildsmith, pop their tops (or more), and the watery blood looks just fake enough to give the gore scenes a properly light tone.

Co-writer T.L. Lankford (ARMED RESPONSE) gave the screenplay a noir flavor with Jay Richardson, a light leading man in a Bruce Campbell mode, essaying a seedy private eye named Jack Chandler, who is hired to find a runaway teen from Oxnard. He eventually finds her, Samantha (scream queen Linnea Quigley), stripping in a Hollywood bar, where sexy hookers Michelle Bauer and Esther Elise are picking up johns and cutting them apart with chainsaws. It’s all in service of their Aztec/Mayan/who-the-hell-knows God, who demands chainsaw sacrifices at the urging of The Master (TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE’s Gunnar Hansen).

Don’t bother keeping track of the story. HOOKERS is about moments, whether it’s Bauer’s enthusiastic nude butchering of a client (but not before covering her Elvis painting with a plastic cover to keep the gore off of it), Quigley’s famous Virgin Dance of the Double Chainsaws (which is not as sexy as it sounds), or Richardson’s constant wisecracks in the face of mortal danger. B-queens Bauer and Quigley were at the top of their fame at the time, and the late ‘80s was Ray’s best period too. Available on a Retromedia 20th Anniversary DVD with interviews, a trailer, a commentary (by Lankford and Ray, who does some of the industry’s more informative and entertaining), and other goodies, HOLLYWOOD CHAINSAW HOOKERS is worth seeing to find out what the fuss is all about, but don’t expect any kind of classic.

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