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  Vice Squad Street Tough
Year: 1982
Director: Gary Sherman
Stars: Season Hubley, Gary Swanson, Wings Hauser, Pepe Serna, Beverly Todd, Joseph Di Giroloma, Maurice Emmanuel, Wayne Hackett, Nina Blackwood, Sudana Bobatoon, Lydia Lei, Kelly Piper, Kristoffer Anders, Jonathan Haze, Cheryl Rainbeaux Smith
Genre: ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Los Angeles hooker Princess (Season Hubley) is upset because she's having to pack her young daughter away to stay with her grandparents today, and in the middle of getting ready, Princess receives a telephone call. On the line is Ginger (Nina Blackwood), a prostitute friend of hers who is distraught because her violent pimp Ramrod (Wings Hauser) has beaten her up again and she's run away from him to hide in a motel room. Princess is too busy to deal with this right now and tells Ginger to lock the door and stay where she is, then takes her daughter to the bus station and waves goodbye. After that, it's back to work and work for her is walking the streets, avoiding the cops and trying to make some money for herself - Princess doesn't have a pimp anymore so doesn't have those troubles. But Ginger is not so lucky...

Some actors earn a cult reputation for only one role; it didn't quite happen that way for Hauser, who had made a name for himself in a TV soap opera, but you can see his performance in Vice Sqaud as the point where his cult stardom in a load of action thrillers of the 80s and 90s began. Scripted by Sandy Howard, Robert Vincent O'Neill and Kenneth Peters, a caption proudly announces at the beginning that this film has been made with the co-operation of the police and is drawn from real life incidents. After that it settles down into a more seamy version of the countless television cop shows that have permeated the small screen for decades, indeed, take away the strong language and you could update this as an episode of C.S.I.

For such a generic piece, which almost entirely takes place over one night, the acting is surprisingly good, however. The cast know what is expected of them and go right ahead with it, with Hubley as the tough hooker with a heart of gold. We know she has a heart of gold because of the tearful way she sees off her daughter, and that the clients we see her with are usually wanting harmless perversions taken care of: sucking her toes, that kind of thing. Despite this, it is a dangerous world she inhabits, and it only grows more dangerous after Ginger is found badly beaten in the motel room and a tough cop with a heart of gold, Tom Walsh (Gary Swanson) is there in the hospital when she dies.

This makes him mad, and he is now determined to catch Ramrod, although if he was that convinced of his guilt surely he could have arrested him right away? But he doesn't, he persuades Princess to set up Ramrod and the psycho is arrested when he attempts to become her pimp while she is wearing a wire, all the evidence the cops need, apparently. But Princess makes the mistake of telling Ramrod of her opinion of him due to his treatment of Ginger, and he vows revenge, which it looks like he may well carry out when he escapes police custody. Now it's a race against time to see who will catch up with Princess first as Walsh and his Vice Squad try to track them both down before there's another murder. Hauser is an excellent villain and is responsible for what tension there is due to his violent sleaziness, and it's him that the film's cult reputation largely rests on (he even sings the theme song, "Neon Slime"!), but really these stories are not exactly rare in crime movies, Dirty Harry for one, or crime TV for that matter. Music by Keith Rubinstein.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Gary Sherman  (19?? - )

American director who headed two cult classics: Death Line and Dead & Buried. Apart from directing ads, his other films included Vice Squad and the ill-fated Poltergeist III; in the nineties, after the little-seen Lisa, he concentrated on television.

 
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