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  Savage Streets Don't Mess With My Sister
Year: 1984
Director: Danny Steinmann
Stars: Linda Blair, John Vernon, Robert Dryer, Johnny Venocur, Sal Landi, Scott Mayer, Debra Blee, Lisa Freeman, Marcia Karr, Luisa Leschin, Linnea Quigley, Ina Romeo, Jill Jaxx, Mitch David Carter, Richard DeHaven, Bob DeSimone, Kristi Somers
Genre: Thriller, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Brenda (Linda Blair) likes to hang out with her girl gang of schoolfriends, but there's one thing she does not have a sense of humour about, and that is her deaf mute sister Heather (Linnea Quigley) as she's very protective of the girl. Tonight they are roaming the streets when a car full of hoodlums nearly runs over Heather, and Brenda is furious, but the hoods, led by Jake (Robert Dryer) laugh off her complaints. He might well regret being so blasé, as later Brenda and company steal their car and go joyriding in it, abandoning it filled with garbage. But this is just the start of a deadly tit for tat...

Come the eighties, pretty much the only work Linda Blair seemed to be able to secure was in exploitation movies, and Savage Streets was one of her most popular. This could well have been because it was also one of her trashiest, with heavy doses of gratuitous nudity and violence aiming squarely for the lowest common denominator in the audience's expectations. However, in its attempts to be shocking, harrowing even, it simply came across as ridiculous, as if to sneer, yeah, this is really edgy isn't it? Admit it, you're quite taken aback by how far we're going, aren't you?

The passage of time has rendered the film no less ludicrous, and if you're keen on seeing how movie tough guys and gals dressed in 1984, then look no further than the fashions on display here. Leather and black abound, and Brenda's girls are let's say, not decked out for church so couple that with their "don't mess with us" posturing and you have something approaching high camp. It doesn't help that Blair acting this way was never going to be convincing because she never appeared to have that necessary grit to make her convincing as a vigilante, which is what she becomes here.

And why does she go all out for justice? Well, you have to wait for the final half hour for that to happen, and it's a long wait with the evil gang of youths, all of whom don't look a day under forty (and Jake bears a resemblance to Feargal Sharkey, which is offputting for his bad guy status) to get their comeuppance. They are utterly despicable, and what they do first to get their revenge on Brenda is way out of proportion to what the girls did when they trap Heather in the school gym and rape her. Thankfully, director Danny Steinmann doesn't linger on the act itself, but it's a misstep to show as much as he does.

That's not very nice, is it? So if that's no fun, what amusement can be garnered otherwise? What about the way Brenda's friend announces that she is going to be married, the equivalent of the soldier telling his sarge that he just has one more mission to run before he can go home for good? And true to form, she gets thrown off a bridge before the nuptials and right after buying her wedding dress. To call this absurdly melodramatic is about right, but it's all part of the revenge genre's conventions where the villains act so heinously that we're meant to be right behind the hero (or heroine) when they go on the rampage to get their own back. Incidental lunacies include John Vernon as the principal swearing his head off, the English teacher who writes a pupil's dirty poem on the blackboard to analyse it, or the way the filmmakers thought it was imperative we see Blair in the bath before her big scenes with a crossbow. Actually, Savage Streets sounds better than it is, and it takes far too long to get to the point, but you can see why some have taken it to their hearts as prime eighties cheese. Music by John D'Andrea and Michael Lloyd.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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