“In which we learn that small-town folk are dicks.”
While clearly knocking off I Spit on your Grave – not least in the underwater castration scene – this did at least have the good grace to wait for a bit, coming out seven years after Meir Zarchi’s infamous grindhouse pic. It’s one of the many pictures churned out by Roger Corman’s New World company, with the Philippines doing an admirable job of standing in for California, directed by Santiago, who’s no stranger to the GWG genre, with the likes of TNT Jackson and Ebony, Ivory and Jade also in his filmography.
The heroine is small-time actress Carla Harris (Tranelli), whose life is torn apart by tragedy, when her husband is killed after trying to intervene in an assault. With the law powerless to do anything, she heads off to the town where she grew up, to recuperate with her parents. However, the locals are unimpressed by her “big city” ways, in particular the men, after she rebuffs their crude advances. A drunken raid on her home, led by the local butcher (Garaz), ends in tragedy, and Carla in a catatonic state at the local hospital, apparently with no memory of the night’s events. Key-word there: “apparently”…
Yeah, it’s not exactly a spoiler that she’s soon tracking down those responsible, and disposing of them with extreme prejudice. It would have been cool – if, admittedly, fairly implausible – had she kept faking her illness and apparently remaining in hospital, while sneaking out to take her vengeance. But it’s only about two kills in before the ruse is discovered, and the rest of the film has her trying to complete the mission before the local cops, led by Sheriff Cates (McLaughlin) can track her down. I liked the pacing here: while it’s only about seven minutes in before Carla is burying her husband, the film then takes its time demonstrating the ineffectiveness of the police, and how she is now out of synch with the Neanderthal attitudes of the town where she grew up. Then: BANG. The assault is a nasty piece of work, but Santiago doesn’t linger too much there, before getting on to our leading lady’s retribution.
The problem is more one of plausibility, particularly in the second-half, where Carla seems about as indestructible as Michael Myers or Jason Vorhees. Car crashes, fires, impalement, all barely seem to slow her down with barely a scratch, and like those horror icons, she’s not interested in simply killing her victims, the stalk is just as important as the slash. Of course, it helps that her victims are equal idiots to the horny teenagers in Friday the 13th. I mean, that’s a woman you raped undressing and coming towards you. How much do you have to think with your pecker, for that not to set off all kinds of warning bells? Disengage your own brain’s higher-order functions here – and maybe your ears for the startlingly-bad theme song – and you’ll have a better time.
Dir: Cirio H. Santiago
Star: Deborah Tranelli, Bill McLaughlin, Kaz Garaz, Ed Crick