Wednesday, 31 July 2013

REVIEW: BITCH SLAP (DVD)


How do you approach a film like Bitch Slap? Some movies try to hide the fact they are all about sex and violence, but when you are talking about a film called Bitch Slap, where can you go but there? If the title isn’t enough of a give away, check out the publicity campaign and trailers. It doesn’t take a genius to work out what the ‘B’ stands for, and even a five-year-old can work out what we mean by the term ‘weapons of mass destruction’. There are at least six of them, and that’s not including the samurai swords and machine guns. The cameraman must have thought he had died and gone to silicon heaven.

The exploitation genre gets a makeover then, dressed up as a stripper, an assassin and a businesswoman to be exact. Well, I say businesswoman, we’re living in a world where businesswomen dress like strippers too, so perhaps it would be best if we go with that instead. There are double crosses and double D’s aplenty in Rick Jacobson raucous tribute to grindhouse cinema. It’s in safe hands too, Rick’s previous work included directorial duties on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess, which is probably why you will recognise the likes of Lucy Lawless, Kevin Sorbo and Renee O'Connor in guest appearances.

Hands up who remembers Cleopatra 2525? A cheap and cheerful sci-fi series that had me hooked. We’ll keep that between ourselves. Rick Jacobson was responsible for several episodes on that short-lived show, so colour me quietly impressed. You’re no doubt aware that we’re not talking Citizen Cane here; it’s time to lower your expectations and leave your tongues at the door. Rick Jacobson is about to build a better B-movie. Or at least, that was probably the plan anyway.

I’m not convinced the plot is entirely relevant but here goes anyway. Three gorgeous girls with large B-movies attempt to retrieve a cache of stolen diamonds from a corrupt cop. Things take a turn for the perverse when they find out it belongs to a criminal mastermind known as, wait for it, Pinky. Strikes fear into the heart, doesn’t it? Hel (Erin Cummings) is a con artist/ thief/part time lesbian who turns out to be a secret agent called Foxy 69. Seriously, who writes this stuff? In fairness, Erin Cummings plays the part rather well, and there’s a good chance she could shake and stir Mr Bond with a single glance.

Her partners in crime are Camerro (America Olivio), an out-of-control bad ass who overacts alarmingly, and cute as a kitten Trixie (Julia Voth). From what I can gather her character traits are na├»ve, innocent, incredibly dumb and most importantly, part time lesbian. Anyone expecting to use the term woody might want to go with the word ‘wooden’ instead, especially when it comes to Julia Voth’s one note performance. Still, she does manage to pull off the body-to-die-for look with ease, but if I had to choose a favourite – which we all will I’m sure – I would probably go for America Olivio. Her performance tends to grate, especially when she’s ‘reaching’ for ‘angry’, but everything else about her is just fine.

The script serves up plenty of twists and the dialogue is occasionally diverting, especially for those of us blessed with the minds of a twelve-year-old. Performances are serviceable and the obligatory explosions, gunfights and fisticuffs should keep you entertained while the B-movies take a well-earned break. I have to admit, I was genuinely surprised by the production values. Sure it’s cheap and cheerful, but it works really well. The CGI is camp, colourful and creative, reminding me of slick Japanese fare like Cutie Honey and Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl. Rick Jacobson knows what he’s doing behind the camera though; perhaps somebody should let him loose on a tighter script and a bigger budget. This review is starting to sound a little too positive for me so maybe I should wrap things up.

Bitch Slap is not a good movie in the traditional sense of the word; if you’re hoping for the kind of (s)exploitation the ad campaign suggests, you’re in for a dry night. There’s precious little nudity to be found here, there’s a sprinkling of bloody carnage and lots of B-movie footage, but there’s precious little flesh for your pound. It’s crude, it’s vulgar, it’s your twelve-year-old nephews favourite movie, but Bitch Slap fails to deliver on its promise of sex and violence.

A candy-covered coating adds weight to the mix, but there’s precious little substance to be found. Rick Jacobson may have planned to build a better B-movie but he doesn’t quite pull it off. I really should refrain from using the phrase ‘pull it off’. Bitch Slap rips from the pages of Sin City, Planet Terror and even Crank, but fails to deliver a satisfying read. Taken for what it is though, Bitch Slap could have and probably should have been a lot worse. God bless the boobies. Amen to that. AW


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