Monday, March 22, 2010

BITCH SLAP

I really wanted to love director Rick Jacobson's (BLOODFIST VI and VII) gleeful homage to the bad girl drive-in/grindhouse classics of the 60s and 70s, BITCH SLAP (2009).... but I ended up just liking it.

Three drop-dead gorgeous, foul-mouthed, scantily-clad, gun-toting bisexual/lesbian chicks (Julia Voth, Erin Cummings, and America Olivo) show up at rundown trailer in the middle of the desert, looking to steal $200 million in diamonds from a sleazebag crimeboss named Gage (Michael Hurst, HERCULES THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS). But, all is not what it seems, and an increasingly absurd series of mishaps, distractions, deceptions, betrayals and outrageous acts of ultraviolence ensue.

For the most part, BITCH SLAP successfully evokes the over-the-top and stylized world of the "really bad girls" exploitation genre. From the awesome opening titles to the lingering, voyeuristic T&A shots, girl-on-girl groping, and the brilliantly profane dialogue, SLAP is incredible, irredeemable, astoundingly incorrect fun.

All three leads are stunningly beautiful, and great in their parts, with Olivo truly outstanding in her role as psycho-bitch "Camaro." The film also features hysterical cameos from the HERCULES & XENA television shows (which Jacobson directed many episodes of), with Kevin Sorbo, Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor all making fleeting and funny appearances. The fight scenes - choreographed by Zoe Bell - are brutal and exciting. The music is great, and the cars are awesome. My only complaint - and it's this that really hurt my enjoyment of the flick - is the overuse of CGI.

For either budgetary or stylistic reasons, the director chose to shoot all of the flashback sequences with the actors in front of greenscreens, with remarkably obvious "virtual sets." The very first flashback yanked me right out of the world of the movie, and I never quite found my way back in. It's quite possible that the CGI sequences were intended to emphasize the unreality of the crazy, hyperactive world of the film, but it didn't really work for me.

The unrated DVD from 20th Century Fox features a stunning, 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that's sharp enough for you to see every droplet of sweat running down the girls' ample cleavage. The audio is a powerful 5.1 mix that does justice to the pounding music, staccato gunfire and room-shaking explosions. The limited extras include a behind-the-scenes documentary, a commentary track by Jacobson and the producers, and a separate commentary by sexy stars Voth, Cummings and Olivo.

As I said above, I really liked BITCH SLAP. On many levels, it's a perfect homage to stuff like FASTER PUSSYCAT, KILL, KILL or THE DOLL SQUAD, but I'm just really tired of modern filmmakers' unhealthy fascination with, and lazy reliance on, computer "magic." When CGI is used judiciously and skillfully, it can be a great tool. When it's not, it makes the filmmakers look like a tool.

Despite that, and acknowledging that it's my prejudice, I still highly recommend BITCH SLAP to fans of the 'bad girl" exploitation genre. It's fun, funny and not for the easily offended.

BUY: Bitch Slap (Unrated)