“Shitty city bang gang.”
The back-story behind how this was made is, in some ways, more interesting than the film itself. The star and co-writer was working as a stripper, and came up with the idea, almost as a coping mechanism to handle some of the creeps with whom she had to interact. Funding came from a customer at one of the clubs. But, unfortunately, it turned out that the money he was “investing” was actually being embezzled, leading to a two-year crawl through post-production – it still hasn’t received an official release in its American home. Made in 1997, it looks like a fossil from an earlier, much scuzzier era, with both its grimy New York locations and feel harking back to the work of Abel Ferrara.
Allison (Twiss) heads from Steubenville, Ohio to the Big Apple to escape an abusive relationship, but ends up in far worse shape the same day she arrives. Her rape at the hands of two local sleazebags is interrupted by the fortunate arrival of a van of pissed-off and armed women, who extract vengeance of a vicious kind on the assailants – and make Allison (or “Jennifer” as she tells them she’s called) finish one off. With no other options, she joins the gang, as they work in a go-go bar, and locate other targets who have abused women. The male-dominated police refuse to believe the truth, and only NYPD homicide detective Billie Perez (Kay) figures out the connection between the crimes. She and her partner stake out one potential victim of the women, and in the gun-battle which ensues, her partner is shot dead. As I believe the kids say: shit’s getting real.
How much you take away from this will probably depend on your fondness for the grindhouse cinema to which this is a loving homage – a full decade before Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino went there. Personally, I like the take no prisoners approach, and that this is heavily tilted towards the “revenge”side of the “rape-revenge” scale. But it’s certainly rough around the edges – actually, the bits not on the edges are also pretty rough – particularly on the acting front. It seems to have been the first (and in the cases of Kay and Hoops, only) film for a lot of the performers involved: Arthur Nasacarella, as Det. Perez’s boss, has more experience, and it clearly shows. Still, on balance, its indie heart beats strong enough for me to forgive the flaws, the most obvious being that Twiss is no Zoe Tamerlis.
Dir: Todd Morris
Star: Deborah Twiss, Benja Kay, Freida Hoops, Veronica Cruz