A rousing bit of cinematic anarchy that goes from car vs. cars to car vs. helicopter to finally car vs. (spoiler!) locomotive (or is that "crazy train?"), Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry (which might've been more appropriately titled Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry and a Dude Named Deke) stars Peter Fonda and Adam Roarke as two NASCAR wannabes who rob a supermarket (run by an uncredited Roddy McDowall) to finance their would-be leap into big-time auto racing; they end up running into Fonda's one-night stand (Susan George), who threatens to narc on them if she can't tag along, and soon they're tearing through California in a souped-up Chevy Impala and later a sweet '69 Dodge Charger with the pigs in hot pursuit. It's freaky, man! A love letter to "muscle cars" and livin' la vida loca, Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry is little more than just one big extended chase scene with some groovy characters and hip dialogue -- and that'll do just fine.
"So easy to kill, so hard to love." A grindhouse classic directed by genre master Jack Hill (Foxy Brown) and a personal favorite of Quentin Tarantino (who provides commentary with Hill on the DVD), Switchblade Sisters chronicles the tragic downward spiral of the Dagger Debs, a violent gang whose members are teenage girls. The Debs have to deal with various rival gangs throughout the course of the film, though Hill is more interested in the internal strife that threatens to tear them apart, most of it spurned by the arrival of a new member, Maggie, whom gang leader Lace initially takes a liking to -- which doesn't sit too well with the treacherous Iago figure of the group, Patch. Like pretty much every other movie Jack Hill ever delivered, Switchblade Sisters is crazy sexy cool, a fast and furious flick that has obviously influenced Tarantino, most notably in Kill Bill. The film was originally going to be title The Jezebels, which Maggie eventually renames the Debs, though Hill felt that not enough people would know what a "Jezebel" actually is.
A made-for-Showtime movie that many people have admittedly watched only because they wanted to see Anne Heche naked (which is as good a reason as any), Girls in Prison is just as campy, crass and tasteless as its title implies -- and just as unabashedly entertaining. The plot has something to do with the "new girl" coming to the big house, an up-and-coming songbird who supposedly greased a big-shot record producer and who promptly runs afoul of some of the nastier ladies behind bars, but really, who cares? There are steamy shower scenes (a lot of them), lesbian trysts, cafeteria fights, vengeful stabbings, brutal guards, a clueless warden, you name it! For the record, Heche looks great in her birthday suit, and so does Ione Skye, who leaves Diane Court of Say Anything far behind her in her role as a tough-as-nails lifer. Directed with adolescent glee by John McNaughton, who later expanded on the girl-on-girl action with Wild Things.
This Japanese martial arts classic (whose title translates more literally into Clash, Killer Fist!) stars the inimitable (and seemingly invincible) Sonny Chiba as a foot- and fist-for-hire who ends up taking on the Yakuza as they plot to kidnap the daughter of a recently deceased oil tycoon -- but not before he busts a guy out of death row whilst disguised as a Buddhist monk, amongst other exploits. Chiba's amoral character sometimes makes it hard to root for him, but his prowess is truly a sight to see -- the action scenes are astonishing and often leave you wondering how everyone managed to not get killed while making this movie, including the people off-camera. Followed by two sequels, Return of the Street Fighter and The Street Fighter's Last Revenge, and a spin-off, Sister Street Fighter, which, in some ways, is even better. And for all the True Romance fans out there, this is indeed the film that Clarence (Christian Slater) is watching in the run-down Detroit movie theater when he meets the love of his life, Alabama (Patricia Arquette).
Director Arthur Muhammad's 2009 throw-back (and kick-back, and punch-back, and stab-back) to old-school '70s vigilante dramas was originally titled Sweet Justice, an equally grindhouse-ish title but one that didn't bring its ass-kicking lady stars to the forefront. Like a lot of grindhouse films both new and old, Black Angels has serious social issues on its mind and expresses its beliefs in the most outrageous and exploitative ways possible -- the film is (or at least wants to be) a wake-up call to deadbeat parents, as four women working as child support case workers by day serve as undercover collectors by night, tracking down irresponsible moms and dads and making them pay up by any means necessary. Yeah, it's as ridiculous as it sounds (and maybe even more so), but its, well, heart is in the right place, ending up as a sort of crude, violent After School Special for grownups. Made for about $35,000 -- and a lot of love, which carries it to the finish line.