“Big hair, big sunglesses and a little budget.”
DeCoteau gave us one of the all-time worst GWG films, in American Rampage. Made the same year, 1989, this is surprisingly… Well, while I wouldn’t go so far as to say “good,” it looks like Citizen Kane beside Rampage; let’s settle on “surprisingly semi-competent.” The heroine, Maggie (Sanders), is serving time in jail, when she is let out on furlough to attend the funeral of her murdered brother. Maggie escapes, and sets about tracking down those responsible, working her way up the chain of command, wielding everything from a baseball bat to a flamethrower(!), and with a fetching line in 80’s wraparound shades, which she wears even when exploring a dimly-lit warehouse. Hey, it was the eighties, man – the decade that gave us Miami Vice! How you looked was at least as important as what you did… The trail of those responsible ends up a good deal closer to home than is comfortable; the character in question is not exactly unexpected, so that doesn’t count as much of a spoiler.
There’s probably only one person in the cast you’ll recognize, and you have to be a B-movie aficionado even for that – scream queen Bauer (under her name at the time, Michelle McLellan) shows up as Maggie’s two-timing friend, who delivers a copious amount of entirely gratuitous nudity and lingerie, to liven things up. Sanders was the Playboy Playmate of the Month for January 1990, which tells you just about all you need to know regarding her acting ability. Wisely, the script opts not to test the limits of her thespian ability, giving her a bit of low-tier emoting early on, as she gets told of her brother’s demise and attends her funeral, before she heads into stone-faced machine of vengeance mode. The villains are a curiously preppy-looking bunch of drug-dealers, all white, mostly with nice teeth, and many wouldn’t seem out of place at a frat party. Still, they all go down like ninepins, though the action is of widely varying quality; some of the car chases are pretty good, yet on the other hand, the less said about the grenade sequence, the better.
Given how much I was braced for something irredeemably bad when I discovered who had directed this, I will confess to being pleasantly surprised. This is, however, at least as much a result of my low expectations, as any reflection of the film’s quality, and you’d be well-advised to follow suit. If you’re looking for a slice of cheesy, straight-to-video 80’s goodness, from a time in history not long after the question “VHS or Beta?” was still being asked, and with a lurid sleeve to match, this and a couple of beers will represent a throwback to a more innocent era. The trailer below offers a perfect appetizer for it.
Dir: David DeCoteau
Star: Peggy Sanders, Tony Josephs, Jacolyn Leeman, Michelle Bauer