Jarv’s Schlock Vault: Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers
The CHAINSAWS used in this Motion Picture are REAL and DANGEROUS! They are handled here by seasoned PROFESSIONALS. The makers of this Motion Picture advise strongly against anyone attempting to perform these stunts at home. Especially if you are naked and about to engage in strenuous SEX. My conscience is clear, (signed) Fred Olen Ray.
Jarv ‘s Rating: There was no way this was going to get a low rating from me. So as a result, I give this truly hilarious little piece of grindhouse exploitation 3 Changs out of 4. This film is fucking mint, as any film about naked women wielding chainsaws as part of a lunatic cult of chainsaw worshippers that dates back to Egyptian times led by Gunnar Hansen should be. Highly, highly recommended. Get the beers in for this one, and trust me, it’s a blast.
It’s taken me a while to track this film down. I first heard about it years ago in context of a story that may or may not be Urban myth. The tale goes that one of the actresses (and Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers features three of the B-movie scream queens) broke a strike to appear in this film. By changing her name and crossing picket lines, she seriously damaged her career and was forced into even sleazier cinema as a result. The actress? Michelle Bauer, and it’s worth noting that she followed this film with a whole plethora of soft porn nonsense, from which she’s never really recovered. The point of this anecdote is to illustrate what utter fucknuts unions are, particularly unions in the creative industries, and it’s a crying shame that a decent jobbing actress working in cheap and cheerful schlock was punished like this for wanting to pay the rent. I’m, admittedly, assuming she considered it punishment. She may well have liked doing soft core porn, who am I to judge?
Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers is an almost perfect example of a film that defies rational criticism. On almost every level of technical ability it’s fucking atrocious. It’s poorly staged, poorly shot, much of the acting (particularly from Hansen) is wooden, the soundtrack is inexplicable, and yet on a base subjective level this is a monstrously entertaining sleazy romp. As if that weren’t bad enough, due to the scarcity of the film (it nearly didn’t survive) there were very few surviving copies of it out there. This one was restored from one of the last existent prints, and as such it is a touch grainy and so forth.The script to this is pure tosh, the concept is ridiculous, and yet almost everyone involved knows this, and as such Fred Olen Ray has turned in what can only be described as a comedy. There are so many genius touches of hilarity, and it is just so perky and gleefully tacky that I defy anyone to hate it. Personally, I had a blast, and I honestly believe that only the most pompous and po-faced Guardian critic could rag on this little film.
Spoilers lurk below, as if that matters.
In 1980’s LA, sleazy Private Eye Jack Chandler (Jay Richardson) is following the trail of a missing girl called Samantha (Linnea Quigley). However, what he doesn’t know is that she’s on the fringes of Gunnar Hansen’s insane chainsaw worshipping cult that dates from ancient Egypt (a good 6000 years before the internal combustion engine, which even Jack notices). Lead hookers in the cult are Michelle Bauer’s Elvis loving Mercedes, and Dawn Wildsmith’s Lori. Both these ladies have an almost pathological aversion to clothes and it helps that Bauer is really quite attractive in a deranged kind of way. Basically, to appease their Chainsaw God, they draw punters back to their place, get naked, and then eviscerate them with Chainsaws. Jack gets drawn into this web of vice and corruption, bones Samantha and saves the day, but not before Samantha performs the dance of the dual virgin chainsaw. There’s also a lot of grubby sex, and a mock hard-boiled narration that brilliantly completely ignores the actual events taking place on screen. Oh, and this also features nudity. I imagine that that last comes as somewhat of a surprise.
As already mentioned, the acting is crap. Quigley is probably the best, but that’s not saying much although all the girls throw themselves into things with great Gusto. Bauer in particular has probably the most demanding (ha!) part given that she has to get naked, do most of the chainsawing, and still mouth execrable exchanges about running out of gasoline for the chainsaw. Hansen is easily the worst, but he’s so bad, and so wooden, that it comes across as absolute genius. You can see why Hooper never gave Leatherface dialogue, frankly. However, this is the last comment on the technical merits of the film, because there’s no point.
Basically, there’s a fairly easy litmus test to find out if this film is for you. I’m going to lay out a couple of scenes below, and if you find them funny, then find this film immediately. The first one worth talking about is the first chainsawing. Bauer is working a bar, using some very high-quality pick up language. She attracts a lonely desperado, takes him back to her place, strips naked, covers her beloved Elvis poster with cellophane, puts on a shower cap, and then gleefully eviscerates the punter. The actual murder is shot from his point of view, so all you see is Bauer, tits out, laughing maniacally, being covered in red paint that bears no resemblance at all to blood. Hilarious.
The second is the genius exchange where Jack is arguing with his girlfriend. The voiceover lays out a traditional noir narrative, and tells how she’s pleased to see him go, but a bit concerned for his welfare, and wants him to come back safely, as she loves him so much. However, the imagery on screen is of her, tits out, swearing, throwing things at him and giving him the finger. This scene really works, actually, because Jack sells it totally, and it’s very, very funny. Jack, incidentally, has another brilliant scene where he deals with Samantha being mouthy with him by, er, headbutting her into unconsciousness. What a diplomat, someone send him to the Middle East, stat.
Finally, there is the finale itself. The drugged up Quigley, in a state that can only be described as undressed, performs a strange dance using two chainsaws, before getting involved in a good old-fashioned chainsaw fight with Bauer. There has never been an unertaining film involving a chainsaw fight.
Overall, I found this to be an absolute riot. Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers is, naturally, a phenomenally sleazy low-rent film, and an absolutely cracking one. In these days of grimy nouvelle-Grindhouse, it takes a little, cheap and bloody silly film to remind me that schlock and exploitation are supposed to be fun. There’s nary a rape, the violence is laughably inept, the acting is table-esque and the film is shot by amateurs. Yet none of this matters, because Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers is an absolute blast. Get the beers in, get some mates round and laugh until your sides actually hurt. Just don’t forget your shower cap.
Until next time,