Oct 7, 2011

Savage Streets

Considered by few to be a masterpiece in exploitation, Savage Streets is first and foremost a vehicle for Linda Blair to "professionally" bare her breasts. Even though this scene only stretches about a minute long with a slow and calculated pan across a bathtub, it is painfully obvious that her impunity paired with attitude was the second mark to meet. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if production of Savage Streets was funded simply from the premise of Linda Blair in leather wielding a crossbow, cleavage absolute. Caught on the rebound by director Danny Steinmann, who would later direct the runt of the Friday the 13th series (A New Beginning), Savage Streets pumps up the vigilante formula with effervescent colors, leg-warmers, and a typical 'tude to tease and flaunt a harsh and particular sexuality on the winners ground. Opening with a contrast of the Satins and the Scars, even adhering to a Venn diagram of sorts in comparing and contrasting the extremities of pack formations, in this case suburban violence - Vince is first introduced duping his parents into believing he's pursuing honest intentions, only then trading his would-be letterman jacket for a leather jacket. These actions justify a means, the obligatory summation of "do you know where your children go at night?". This (presently) pointless question is soon answered as we witness Vince jump into the back of a Bel-Air convertible, rendezvousing with his gang, The Scars. These boisterous boys are heeded only by their ignorance for at first they seem as if they could fit the archetype of being generally rowdy, even playful. But the light soon parts and their darker intentions are shown in a serious of shakedowns which include ripping off the shirt of a buxom blonde in front of her boyfriend. It was a shame Steinmann didn't seize the opportunity or the advantage while he had it. God knows how much good would have came out of a single tear streaming down her cheeks as her breasts are groped by strange men. More-so, a simple look of dismay did not emphasize what could have been an above excellent (as well as arousing) scene. Note of interest - why not rape the beautiful aforementioned blonde rather than the timid, handicapped sister? Then again, power is the play and the Scars have more than enough sexual curiosities to work out.

With the Satins at the core of the story, we are indebted to enjoy the company of Brenda, Francine, and Heather, Brenda's deaf sister. The several hilarious and tragic (maintaining hilarity) confrontations between the sexes can have ample blame rerouted back to the Satins. It is them who strike first by stealing the convertible of the Scars while busy attempting to collect a nigh mentioned sum of money from the local jocks on account of "blow". Never mind the scene in which The Scars almost hit Heather with a car. Why the imperfect vessel of chastity is trotting around decrepit city streets at night with a gang of collected loose inhibitions is beyond me. It would appear that the Scars terrorize while the Satins tease, giving both sides a gender-specific lethality - men control and abuse while women seduce and destroy. That's not to bring the role of Heather into this mix though. That's not to say I don't believe in inklings of innocence. The fact of the matter is, Heather is cattle. Created by a Norman Yonemoto, Heather's character is a senseless shell serving a strict purpose for rape. She exists solely to be violated, thrusting our cast of women into a level of aggression and panic. As comes the revenge, so must the inciting incident. Soon enough will the Scars repay a small slight against their street credibility by raping a deaf/mute girl and as per aged rape-revenge talents, will force the runt of the group to savage their forcefully seized property.

An interesting aspect of The Scars is their general homoerotic behavior, frequently at play. You'll see the leader of the Scars, Jake, grab the crotches of his kinsfolk as well as tugging the pants down off Vince in a heated fury. Gearing Vince's libido towards a potential victim, sure, but the spark in Jake's eyes as well as his lecherous stare either suggest that the character in which Robert Dryer portrayed fostered homosexual condolences or Robert Dryer himself found himself an on-set muse. Do I even need to mention the locking of lips as a form of taunting, of which was allegedly improvised, so stated Danny Steinmann in an interview? I like to consider Dryer's part of improvisation to concede towards a form of theatrical subconscious submission. The frothing hyper-sexuality of the Satins intermittently clash with the flamboyantly feral Scars, as well. To bring about, again, the questioning of the Scars motivations - I find it interesting to note the choice of victim on Jake's part. The Scars definitely succeeded in hand-selecting the mousiest and most timid girl of all, somewhat resembling a creature from The Secret of Nimh. If Savage Streets were to be acknowledged for anything other than a brief spurt of crossbow vigilantism or Linda Blair's dirty pillows it would be for a neon-bathed battle of the sexes in which the body count outweighs the potential requirement for a viewing. I found the city of Savage Streets to boast clever flickers and splotches of light, fruitful characters whose moral scale has been past compromised, and enough hearty violence to spread evenly across 93 minutes. However, I cannot place a crown on a film unworthy of exploitation royalty, especially one whose smoldering legacy refuses to burn out after left to the elements. Babes, bolts, and badgering - Savage Streets is a silly relic of simpler times. I won't cut the ribbon of approval yet but I wholeheartedly agree its investments into revenge have more benevolence than that of the wavering vigilante pool that is modern cinema.


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