Savage Streets, 1984.
Directed by Danny Steinmann.
Starring Linda Blair, John Vernon and Sal Landi.
Brenda (played by the pixie faced Linda Blair) and Heather (80’s scream queen Linnea Quigley) are two very close sisters. Brenda keeps her young deaf sister under her watchful eye at all times, until one fateful day when a fight breaks out in the girls locker room, causing Brenda to not meet Heather on time. Heather is brutally beaten and raped by four gang members. Left for dead in the local gym, Brenda decides its time for a little rough justice.
Bad hairdos, dire fashion sense and a pumping 80’s soundtrack from John Farnham, can only mean one thing; the cult classic Savage Streets has finally arrived on a gloriously uncut DVD from those fine folks at Arrow.
I will admit this straight off the bat, I honestly had no idea what Savage Streets was until about a year ago. The concept, a female teenage vigilante hunts after the men who raped her deaf sister, certainly intrigued me, while the fact that Linda Blair played the crossbow wielding avenger only inflamed my interest further. It just positively screams cult VHS classic and it quite rightly deserves the honor of being placed on a double bill with trash classic, Death Wish 3.
This is far from an accomplished or technically impressive film; its low budget is abundantly clear right from the get go, but it is still (as far as revenge films go) one of the better features churned out in the 80s. Helped in part by the gloriously brilliant soundtrack and performance from Blair, it is one of those films that many (including myself) would class as a guilty pleasure. It’s understandable how this could have gathered a cult following and director Danny Steinmann (of Friday the 13th: Part 5 fame) does a stand-up job of maximising the talent of Linda Blair.
Admittedly after viewing Savage Streets one will look at Linda Blair and think, was that really the innocent teenager from The Exorcist? And while not overtly gory in its ways of revenge (very little blood is actually spilt on screen), the brutality of the gang’s actions is deservedly hard to watch at times. Such is the case when Heather is savagely raped, which is more gut wrenching to watch and take in then one might expect, while the murder one of Brenda’s friends (who is soon to be married and pregnant) as she is thrown off a bridge will produce a gasp or two.
The image that seems to be staying with me long after watching it (probably most shocking of all) is the full frontal nudity of lead Linda Blair. Seeing that intense stare as she smokes in a bathtub, its clear she was trying to distance herself from previous films and public perceptions.
What makes this a cult classic among anything else is its use of its instantly quotable dialogue, including classic lines such as this little exchange between Brenda and one of her victims:
Brenda: Sounds nice and kinky to me. Too bad you’re not double-jointed.
Brenda: Because if it were, you’d be able to bend over and kiss your ass goodbye!
Or my personal favorite “Go fuck an iceberg!” line delivered with a gruffness that only cult actor John Vernon could do.
This is a perfect 80s exploitation film for all those who are cult film fans, it certainly won’t win any awards but good-golly this is a ham covered, rock n’ roll, crossbow firing good time. How I had not discovered this sooner is beyond me, but it is highly recommended as perfect late night friday entertainment.
Extras wise, there is very little in the way of new material as much of this disc contains what was included on the (now out of print) Region 1 special edition. Although that is the case they are still an impressive set of extras.First off there are 3 separate audio commentaries, all of which are worth a listen particularly director Danny Steinmann’s take on the film. There are interviews with star Linda Blair, Linnea Quigley, head gang member Robert Dryer and producer John Strong, topped off with the original 3 minute promo trailer (which basically gives away the while film).
As is standard now with all Arrow Video releases fans are treated to a collectors booklet written by Kier-la Janisse, a double-sided poster, reversible art work of the VHS cover and newly commissioned artwork from The Dude Designs which holds that 80s video vibe.
All in all a well rounded package from a long forgotten cult 80s feature and one which is highly recommended for all those bad film fans out there. Nothing is going to stand in their way of owning this.
Dominic O’Brien is an aspiring writer and filmmaker; he is a cult film fanatic and continues to seek out the weirdest and strangest films committed to celluloid.
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