(*homocinematically inclined)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Reel Thoughts: Bitch Please

Great exploitation movies straddle the line between tawdry and hilarious, and the new film Bitch Slap (now on DVD) works hard to capture the tarnished magic of such classics as Faster, Pussycat, Kill! Kill! and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Thanks to a pitch-black sense of humor, truly gorgeous women and a wild backwards/forwards storyline, Bitch Slap is a raucous good time. And yes, it’s just as crass, offensive and sexed-up as it can be, but the fun Behind-the-Scenes documentary helps put the filmmakers’ goals in perspective.

Trixie (Julia Voth), Hel (Erin Cummings) and Camero (America Olivo) are ass-kicking lesbian hellcats who hatch a plan to steal a stash of jewels from a gangster. Shockingly, things do not go as planned. Of course, the fact that no one is who they seem to be has something to do with that. Writer/director Rick Jacobson shot in front of green screens for a majority of the film, which gives the film the requisite cheesy look. Jacobson and co-writer Eric Gruendemann worked on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess, so it’s a welcome surprise to see Kevin Sorbo, Michael Hurst, Renee O’Connor and Lucy Lawless in the cast. Lawless and O’Connor in particular are hysterical as a pair of repressed nuns. Like the Grindhouse films, Bitch Slap is full of over-the-top violence and sex (but no nudity) that might put off more sensitive viewers.

All three lead actresses manage to embrace the ludicrous situations and purposely cheesy dialogue. Campiness isn’t always easy for actresses (drag queens are much better equipped to handle it), but Olivo (wife of Christian Campbell from Trick), in the Tura Satana role, imbues Camero with a Gina Gershon earthiness, while matching the Showgirls star’s work in Bound. Cummings (Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Dante’s Cove), done up in sexy businesswoman drag, really captures Hel’s multiple personas. Voth, as the resident sex kitten, comes across like a sweeter Megan Fox.

Not everyone will be up for a Bitch Slap, but if you like Tarantino, kitschy dialogue and crazy over-the-top plots, not to mention a showgirl parachuting onto the Vegas Strip, do as the DVD cover instructs and assume the position.

Review by Neil Cohen, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Phoenix's Echo Magazine.

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