REVIEW: Savage Streets (1984, Danny Steinmann / L. Blair, J. Vernon)

Monday, 24 December 2012

First of all, merry Christmas everyone! Are there better things to do than watch a real cult B-movie from the 80s today, such as "Savage Streets"? Well, perhaps a few, but that's truly a perfect choice, as well. Savage Streets at these days is rather obscure movie to say, at least. It was directed by an unknown director Danny Steinmann, who hadn't got much discography on his side prior to Savage Streets. He debuted in 1973 under alias "Danny Stone" with a porno film "High Rise", and later on directed his latest film Friday The 13th Part IV: A New Beginning, which wasn't much of a success.

But, in between those movies he directed his (only) highlight "Savage Streets", starring Linda Blair as Brenda, a leader of teenage-schoolgirl-gang. Blair was an actor in original Exorcist movie, by the way; remember the possessed little girl in the movie? Well, that's her, all right!

Savage Streets is a movie which succeeds to be brutal and merciless, without really showing very much blood and gore, or without purely going for slasher-like action. Even when being cheesy, the movie manages to raise that feeling, where you really feel bad for the victims a couple of times, wishing they would not get killed or raped - before laughing at the action, again. Although there's no that many death scenes all together, the victims' fates are rather brutal, and you can feel the pain and call for the vengeance. This impression is backed up with strong and inspired acting of tough teenage-gang-queen Brenda (Linda Blair) who doesn't take shit from anyone, and Jake (Robert Dryer) who leads a male gang of violent rock'n'roller thugs called 'Scars', an anti-hero of the film, who just manages to give perfect impression of total maniac.

Shortly, the story (spoiler alert) goes like this: One night, Brenda and his girl-gang are having a regular girls night out, while they bump into a male-gang ('Scars' members) on a mid-town streets, led by Jake. The guys shout and whistle for the girls from the passing car, but fail to impress the them. Final "nail to the coffin" is when the guys almost run over Brenda's deaf sister Heather with the car and a quarrel is ready to go between the two gangs of different sexes. Things calm down for a second as the no-luck-with-the-puss angered Scars gang leaves the girls alone, angered. Shortly after, Brenda and her gang soon discover the car of Jake and his gang's car parked down the street empty, and decide to steal it to have some fun with it. They then dump some thrash inside the car while having a bit fun with it first.

Jake swears for revenge about trashing the car, and then turns into his maniac mode. The Scars gang now on the hunt, soon wanders into the local school, and discover that the girls study there, when they notice the familiar faces, as the girls are having a cheerleading rehearsals on the football field. Jake's goes after Brenda's deaf and innocent sister Heather, when she's left alone for several minutes in school, and mutilate and handicap the poor girl for life. The gang then stalks Brenda's best friend few days later, chases her to a close by bridge, and throw her down to flat asphalt into her death. Afterwards Brenda finds out what has happened: first her deaf sister, then her best friend; she snaps and is now OUT FOR REVENGE!

Does Savage Streets deliver? Hell yes! Heather's and Brenda's best friend's fates are quite "touching", well in manner that they can be in such a cheesy film, and the movie manages to raise emotions such as anger and sympathy a couple of times; not of course on level such as in a serious drama movie. On the other hand, most of it's running time Savage Streets has it's overly cheesy, not-to-be-taken-too-seriously drive going with the events. For example, the events which take place in the school (high school?), when some hopeless guy is trying to flirt with Brenda, who's not too impressed, while the guy's girlfriend constantly calls Brenda a slut for flirting with his boyfriend, leading into bit of a brawl between the girls. The school-part is goofy side of this film, with cat-fights, cheerleaders, teenagers acting like all stupid, angered teachers, and it features even a sexy shower nudity scene, as well as Linda's gutsy move to show her tits while sitting in a bath-tub with an empty stare, as she memorizes the horrible events in front of her eyes, turning into pure will of revenge.

The best part of the movie happens in the streets and bars, where the plot takes more violent twist, where more action takes place, in a good, cheesy, eighties way. Scum of the town chasing chicks, neon lights, spiky leather jackets, lit cigarettes, rock bars, and hard rock combined with cheesy eighties synth music as a soundtrack, which is just quite memorable enough lift the spirit of the movie up. Not memorable classic such as Brad Fiedel's masterpiece, musical score of The Terminator, but still very good and fitting.

Savage Streets is pure flashback of the good times couple of decades back in time with all the cheesy elements of the era, presenting decent story line, but even better execution and fine acting by Linda Blair as strong female hero going for vengeance, and by John Vernon, who reminds of Liam Neeson with his commanding voice, but has rather small part as a school principal Underwood, and especially Robert Dryer as Jake, who manages to give impression of a totally brutal wacko going so far over the line. Rest of the cast does decent job too, including scream-queen Linnea Quigley as Heather (the sister), and Johnny Venocur as Vince, who is almost halfway forced to join Jake's gang Scars, and Sal Landi as Fargo, one of the gangers. Yes, some acting is rather cheesy, as is the dialogue, but hey, it's good cheese. And, to be honest, most of the time acting isn't even all that bad. Combine brutal and merciless presentation of the events this movie offers, with loads of eighties cheese,  great music, goofy school parts (It's not quite a Breakfast Club, but that part of the movie is enjoyable as well), and you pretty much get what Savage Streets is about: half-serious cheeseburger with some chili added.

There's seriously few moments that makes you crack up too! One of my favorites is a school-scene where Jake and the Scars are about to lure Vince away from the school and studies and hit the road with them, but principal Underwood (Vernon) interrupts them and literally tells them to "go fuck themselves":

(on school's hallway for Underwood interrupting their conversation with Vince)
Fargo: ha ha who the fuck is this asshole
Underwood: Go fuck an iceberg!
Underwood: Get your faggot asses out of here - before I feed them to the cops.
Jake: *insane stare against Underwood*

This movie surprised me pleasantly. It's rather memorable, and it's engine runs on the great spirit eighties cheese, which the whole movie keeps up from the beginning to the end. It's doesn't have the most perfect professional acting, the best story line ever, or best props and special effects, but it's the overall spirit, memorable eighties cheese, and several very memorable scenes such as poor Heather's fate (which may be hard to watch for some), and Brenda's revenge chase at the end with a crossbow. Great stuff for any "good" B-movie fan or anyone who seeks to discover enjoyable eighties movies! A must see if you liked movies such as: Death Wish -series, Vigilante, or The Class of 1984. Fun fun fun...

The Good

  • Blair is tough
  • Dryer succeeds as a maniac
  • Eighties cheese all over
  • Especially music!
  • Few memorable brutal scenes
  • Hot chicks!

The Bad

  • Can't think any

8 Bullets out of 10
(Edit: I just re-watched this movie and cannot help but raise it's score from 7 to 8!)

Buy Savage Streets as DVD disc from

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