Big Bad Mama II

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“Non-threatening mayhem and a healthy dose of gratuitous skin.”

A Roger Corman production. Those four words cover much turf, both good and bad; this inclines toward the latter, simply because it takes an interesting premise, and goes next to nowhere with it. It’s less a sequel to, than a remake of the 1974 film, also starring Dickinson, which is generally believed to be superior. However, that isn’t on heavy cable rotation this month, so you’re stuck with the follow-up. Dickinson plays Wilma McClatchie, evicted from her home by uncaring businessman Morgan Crawford, and whose husband is killed in the process. She and her daughters Billie-Jean and Polly take up a life outside the law, but when Crawford makes a run for governor, their crimes take on a political perspective, as they aim to sabotage his campaign.

However, this is far too flimsy a production to support any social subtext, and while there’s certainly plenty of ammunition expended, the action scenes have almost no impact at all [though there’s an amazingly enthusiastic bit of blood squibbing at the end that is memorable]. Brisebois and McCullough, playing her daughters, are there largely to add skin to the production, though have a certain naive charm – incidentally, I suspect Dickinson’s nude scenes were body doubled, unlike the original film. Given she was in her mid-50’s by the time this was made, it’s understandable. She still has undeniable presence and that’s what keeps the film ticking; Culp has fun with his role as a journalist, hot on the family’s trail.

There’s a fairly useless subplot in which they kidnap Morgan’s son (Jeff Yagher) and turn him to a life of crime – I’m sure the presence of the nubile daughters was in no way an encouragement. Naturally, however, it all ends in a massive gunbattle, but given the generally fluffy nature of proceedings, it’s not much of a spoiler to say that Big Bad Mama III remains a possibility. [Hell, the ending of the original pretty much ruled out a sequel, logically speaking] How old is Angie Dickinson these days?

Dir: Jim Wynorski
Stars: Angie Dickinson, Danielle Brisebois, Julie McCullough, Robert Culp

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