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Women in Cages

Posted by JoshSamford On July - 4 - 2011

Women in Cages (1971)
Director: Gerrardo De Leon
Writers: David Osterhout and James H. Watkins
Starring: Jennifer Gan, Judy Brown and Pam Grier

The Plot: When young Carol Jeffries (Jennifer Gan), known as Jeff, is manipulated by her Filipino boyfriend Rudy into holding a large stash of heroine, she is set up for a very hard fall. She ends up sentenced to ten years hard time in a Filipino prison. Once inside she is accosted by the brash and conniving guards who are lead by the nefarious Chief Matron: Alabama (Pam Grier). She ends up making friends with some of the friendlier girls, but she still has much to contend with. She has the threat of being molested by Alabama but she also has her former flame, Rudy, on the outside trying to have her assassinated by some junkies that are currently locked up with her. Will innocent Carol ever make it out of this concrete hell or will she become just another statistic?

The Review
For those who have seen the most recent outing from Mark Hartley (the director of Not Quite Hollywood), Machete Maidens Unleashed, you’re probably well aware of the popularity of shooting films in the Philippines during the glory days of Grindhouse. For those of you who haven’t seen that documentary, but still wonder just why such movies were shot overseas so often, the answer might already seem obvious knowing that this is a Roger Corman production. It all comes down to the same thing that it always does with Corman: prices! Shooting in the Philippines during the seventies guaranteed filmmakers twice as large of a production for the same amount of money. When Jack Hill’s The Big Doll House hit it big back home in the states, it didn’t take Corman long to start flooding the market with a litany of “women in prison” titles. So now we have the Women in Cages collection from Shout! Factory celebrating this very special series of Philippines-based women in prison shockers. Although not the first one ever made, Women in Cages is certainly one of the more popular titles within the genre and features many game performances amidst all of the sleaziness.

The movie certainly follows in the same formula as any other title within the genre, but ultimately what makes this film, and indeed all films of this genre, so special is the exotic locale and the simple twists that differentiate it amongst the many. For instance, the one thing that will draw your immediate attention to Women in Cages has to be Pam Grier’s performance. Although she played a villain of sorts in The Big Doll House, here she is as sadistic as Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS. Grier gets to let her star power shine as she stretches in order to become an intimidating and powerful force of evil, something she would have to do few times throughout her career. As generally the world’s favorite super-powered woman of action, few could picture her as the conniving and purely evil Alabama that she plays so perfectly here. Believable she is though and few times do you question her authenticity once she gathers up some hapless victim inside of her “play room”.

With any film of this type you’re guaranteed a few staples that help define the genre. The first of those is of course the nudity. Women in Cages does not disappoint in that regard either, as a wide variety of beautiful women end up shedding their clothes throughout the duration of the movie. Does it make for the most respectable of cinema or atmosphere for other women? Probably not, but it certainly puts the “adult” in a title like this. Secondly you can expect a decent amount of low-grade action. Whether we’re talking about cat fights in the shower or the inevitable “big action” sequence that always seems to be brewing for the finale. Third we have the characters. These women in prison titles are almost always chock full of stereotypical and gimmicky characters, but that is perhaps what makes them as fun as they are.

Even though it has already been mentioned at this point, I have to give it up for Pam Grier. Watching her strut as the intensely evil Alabama is both a delight, and slightly frightening. She unquestionably steals the show and even manages to make this heartless villain seem slightly likable. That doesn’t mean we don’t have other memorable characters of course. Jennifer Gan, who leads the cast, is a bit on the vanilla side for this type of movie but she plays the sheepish leading lady well enough. Judy Brown is a bit more over the top however and turns out as the most outgoing amidst the main foursome who comprise the story. Fellow Corman regular Roberta Collins gets to play the most chaotic of the main cast, as she gets to delve into the skin of a junkie with ulterior motives. She is likely one of the most entertaining aspects of the main cast as she regularly spazzes out over her need for drugs, but also continually does her best to murder Jennifer Gan’s character. Throughout the movie you will lose count of how many times she inexplicably goes between “fiend-ing” for drugs and seemingly being “okay”.

The torture of the inmates in the prison certainly comprises many of the most memorable moments in the film. As we watch, I can’t help but be reminded of the previously mentioned Ilsa series. The large and dominating figure of Pam Grier is sadistic in her nightly torture sessions where things almost reach the kinky and perverted heights of that aforementioned series about the worlds most buxom and sadistic nazi leader. There’s very little in the way of gore, but plenty of electric shock therapy to go around. Expect to see plenty of beaten, bloody and bruised women whose clothes always wind up in tatters and are splashed with blood that deeply resembles red paint. In that regard, Women in Cages definitely provides some slightly disturbing moments along the way but for the most part I have to say this is a lot more camp than it is horror.

The Conclusion
Overall, you’ve got to give it up for Women in Cages. It attempts so many things and for the most part it is very successful. The action, the characters, the dialogue… it all points toward fun. Freshened up by director Gerrardo De Leon who actually tries to infuse some style along the way by providing silent action scenes that bring to mind films such as Thriller or other arthouse genre titles from the seventies. I give the movie a surprising four out of five. I think if you’re looking for a Women in Prison title, you can’t go wrong with this one. And if you’ve picked up the Shout! Factory Women in Cages collection, then you’ve got two more classic titles to run through!

Take a Hard Ride

Posted by JoshSamford On June - 30 - 2011

Take A Hard Ride (1975)
Director: Antonio Margheriti (as Anthony M. Dawson)
Writers: Eric Bercovici & Jerrold L. Ludwig
Starring: Fred Williamson, Jim Kelly, Lee Van Cleef and Jim Brown

The Plot: Kiefer (Lee Van Cleef) is a bounty hunter who takes his job perhaps a little too serious. We learn this by watching him gun down a good man who committed a crime decades in the past and has since certainly worked off his crime. He’s not a man concerned with justifying his line of work, he’s just concerned with doing it well. When Morgan, a wealthy rancher who is trying to move $86,000 to Mexico, dies of natural causes he leaves his best friend and ranch hand Pike (Jim Brown) in charge of this mission. This makes Pike one of the most wanted men in all of the old west. He soon meets up with the cunning and dangerous Tyree (Fred Williamson) who wants his own shot at the gold, but is willing to help carry the money to Mexico before making his play. Along the way these two stumble upon a family who have been slaughtered by cowboys. Amongst them is Kashtok (Jim Kelly), the Indian raised African American who uses his fists instead of a gun. This strange group of travelers are going to have to contend with every gun in the west, as well as the dangerous Kiefer, as they travel all of these lonely miles.

The Review
Many things can probably be said about director Antonio Margheriti, but I can’t imagine many people claiming him to have ever been a boring director. Like most Italian genre film directors during the seventies, he was a workman who took on whatever project was sent his way and during that time he worked with many of the more popular actors within his native Italy. It was during this time that he met Fred Williamson on the set of the original Inglorious Bastards, and the two seemingly hit it off in a big way. When it came time for the two to pair up yet again it would be in a co-production between American film studios and Italian benefactors with the spaghetti western title Take a Hard Ride, which seems to be the perfect combination of blaxploitation attitude and western archetype reconstruction via the spaghetti western subgenre. A film that is rarely dark, always fun and features some of the most charismatic actors of 1970’s era genre-film, Take a Hard Ride is a film made entirely for the sake of fun.

Margheriti had to be placed under a certain amount of stress, with this being his first American co-production, but you really wouldn’t think it while watching the film. Considering that studios generally hate experimentation since it breaks away from the patterns that have lead to success in the past, and this was true even in the pre-Jaws 1970’s, it’s interesting to see Margheriti do his best to hit all of the weird high notes that make up the Italian system for building a “Western”. Starting the film off with a massive close-up in the fashion that this film does, it almost seems almost like the entire film is intended as a love letter written specifically for Sergio Leone. Starting off on a close-up of Lee Van Cleef playing a harmonica, this long panning shot backs away in a moving fashion and we see that the camera has traveled through a wooden fence. The shot is complex for this sort of production and hardly seems to allude to any nerves on the part of Margheriti, who seems to enjoy playing with the genre while the producer’s backs are turned.

Although not nearly the dark epic that most of Leone’s westerns always turned out to be, Take a Hard Ride is instead much more taken by the comedy side of the business. Taking a page out of the They Call Me Trinity playbook, the movie becomes a much more slapstick affair and rides on the charisma of its two main stars: Fred “The Hammer” Williamson and Jim Brown. Although Jim Kelly receives equal billing and certainly shares a decent amount of screen time, since his character is unable to speak he never really gets to demonstrate his onscreen presence. So instead we saddle up with Williamson and Brown who have never really been better. Jim Brown is quiet and menacing, which probably wouldn’t be hard for any man his size, but he manages to actually craft a real character within this role and stands up well next to the much more outspoken Williamson. The character that Williamson plays, Tyree, is the perfect sort of loudmouth braggart for Williamson to slip into and make lovable, as only he could. Speaking with a really strange southern accent, “The Hammer” is absolutely brilliant here.

Although this is basically the Western version of the “chase movie” (See: Eat My Dust, Grand Theft Auto and Smokey Bites the Dust), the amount of genre veterans who were in their prime while working on this simply made it invulnerable to formula. Although he was a bit past his prime even at this point, Lee Van Cleef does an honorable job in servicing the film as well. At this point in his career he had started to look pretty old, but he had not yet become the pudgy version of himself that would be involved in the Master Ninja series. Still, when you see Cleef you immediately think “spaghetti western” and he is perfect in doing that for the movie. His character, who sports a long black duster, also works as another visual reminder of Sergio Leone’s work. Why it was needed, I certainly can’t say, but I enjoyed its presence.

The Conclusion
Although this isn’t a title that really deserves a lot of concise evaluation, it is still fairly great in its own right. It rides the dusty and well trodden hills of genre-convention, but it doesn’t get bogged down at any one given point. The cast are all spectacular in their roles and the movie on the whole is riddled with excitement. If there’s one thing that boosts this from being a three into the four territory, it has to be the chemistry between Jim Brown and Fred Williamson. These two steal the show and craft some truly great moments as their friendship unfurls before our eyes. Definitely search the Shout! Factory disc out, which is bundled with Rio Conchos, as you really can’t go wrong with this set.

Great Texas Dynamite Chase, The

Posted by JoshSamford On April - 23 - 2011

The Great Texas Dynamite Chase (1976)
Director: Michael Pressman
Writers: David Kirkpatrick and Mark Rosin
Starring: Claudia Jennings, Jocelyn Jones and Johnny Crawford

The Plot: Candy (Claudia Jennings) is a simple kind of girl from a simple farming home. After spending some time in the joint, she finally concocts a plan to escape from prison. When all goes as planned, her sister is waiting for her with a car just outside of the prison and Candy is then set out on the town. Ellie-Joe Turner (Jocelyn Jones) is a bank teller in a small Texas town, where nothing exciting ever seems to happen. When Candy roles into town though, she brings just the right variety of excitement. She walks into Ellie-Jo’s bank with two sticks of dynamite and threatens to blow everyone up if they don’t hand over the money. She executes her robbery perfectly and takes the money she makes in order to save her families farm before heading out West. Along the way she meets up with Ellie-Jo once again, as the young woman has taken to hitchhiking in order to find some form of excitement similar to what she has just experienced. It is here that the two form a close bond and start planning out their very next robbery.

The Review
The subgenre known as Hixploitation may be offensively titled, but it is a genre with at least some semblance of respect or honor for southern culture. Although these films may display outlaws and troublemakers, that in fact is a part of the southern way of life. There’s a certain amount of adoration for rebels to a degree, and growing up in the deep south I have seen this first hand. For better or for worse, we absolutely love a good outlaw. Certainly in the first half of the previous century, that rebellion remained very much intact with far more precedence and focus on the civil war being a part of the every day man’s life. Today, many kids might not know the difference between Robert E. Lee or Ulysses S. Grant if their battles weren’t immediately on the study-agenda at school. For those born prior to 1990, in my experience, there has always been a tiny bit of historical knowledge instilled in our minds. From the Looney Tunes cartoons we grew up watching (with their random Civil War references), to our own parents and upbringing, we caught the tail end of a streamlined diet of southern traditionalism. Whether or not it caught on, that was dependent on the person, but if you were born and raised in the South it is a cultural stigma that can never leave you. The Great Texas Dynamite Chase isn’t so much a cultural study on Southern heritage or upbringing, as much as it is a study on foxy-ladies who whip all kinds of serious butt.

Women taking revenge and generally kicking the butt of men doesn’t make for the most revolutionary of cinema by itself. The concept had been done before this film and it was surely done many times over since the release of this film, but the manner in which these familiar genre tropes are tackled are what makes the project as memorable as it is. The most fun movie on Shout! Factory’s Roger Corman Action Packed Triple Feature DVD set, The Great Texas Dynamite Chase is a mixture of adrenaline packed action and southern attitude in a movie that can only be described as a precursor to Thelma & Louise. While I have never actually seen Thelma & Louise for myself, everything that I have ever gathered from the movie seems to point to the fact that it ultimately follows a very similar plot structure as this one. The major differences coming in the form of a shirtless Brad Pitt as well as stockpiles of dynamite, in each film respectively. There seems to be strong similarities between the two films, with both being about female empowerment whilst two women go on the run from the law, but in typical Roger Corman fashion The Great Texas Dynamite Chase offers a substantially more male-targeted vision of girl power. Expect ample amounts of nudity and just enough action to move us from one plot point to the next.

The tone that Great Texas… grabs is really pitch perfect for this genre type. Right from the very beginning, we are set in the world of hayfields and country music. The music is a mix of bluesy tunes with a little honkytonk piano along with strings. Craig Safan provided the music and he perfectly captures the popular culture of the time (blaxploitation funk) mixed with that raw southern twang. I like that the film isn’t afraid to experiment with various sounds, and the overall soundtrack is intense because of it. The film is generally quite brave in varying areas other than just the music, howver. Our two leads are given very uncompromising and sexual roles, with which they help sell the sexual revolution. These girls are tough and rebellious in their nature and we get to see this when Jocelyn Jones demonstrates her feminine powers at the very start of the film by having an apparent one night stand with some dolt who she quickly tells to leave once morning time has come. The picture of these tough, no nonsense, working women with sexual desires that need to be fulfilled is very quickly drawn out for the audience, and although there’s an exploitative edge to most of the sex in the movie, the women are ultimately the ones who incite most of it and do so while not appearing “loose” or ignorant.

The initial bank robbing sequence is quite nerve wrecking to be honest. We watch as Claudia Jennings walks into the bank with her stick of dynamite and strikes it up while making her demands toward the teller and those around her. Although the fuse length seems to go back and forth between cuts, the speed of the fuse remains fairly fast and we in the audience start to wonder just how much longer it has before it will finally explode. Despite the continuity gaffes, the tension of the scene actually works quite well. The film overall seems to survive due to the tension created from various action scenes, the quick witted character moments that are sprinkled in throughout and ultimately one of its biggest helping hands comes in the form of the humor. Comedy is as much a part of the story as the chase scenes and the action. Scenes such as the second bank robbery, where we discover that most of Candy’s dynamite sticks are duds, is a funny case of misfortune as humor or a comedic version of Murphy’s Law. The entire bit reminds me of current trends in comedy, where ideas such as this are rode to their extreme. The entire “Meet the Parents” series is based entirely around this concept, and after the first movie it was already beat into the ground. Ultimately though, I think the character moments and the interaction between the cast are what makes this movie as memorable as it is. The cast are all spectacular in their roles, with Claudia Jennings and Jocelyn Jones lighting up the screen as ferocious pieces of female empowerment.

The Conclusion
The film ultimately has its issues, as any movie does, but I think for a piece of hixploitation/carsploitation from this time and era: you really can’t go wrong. A very solid outing with a terrific cast and a focus on delivering pure fun through a cinematic cyringe. Overall, the entire package is stout and worth picking up, but The Great Texas Dynamite Chase is the standout film from the Roger Corman Action Packed Triple Feature. Check it out!

Smokey Bites the Dust

Posted by JoshSamford On April - 22 - 2011

Smokey Bites the Dust (1981)
Director: Charles B. Griffith
Writers: Max Apple and Bryan Williams
Starring: Jimmy McNichol, Janet Julian, Bill Forsythe and Walter Barnes

The Plot: Roscoe (Jimmy McNichol) is an adventurous youth who doesn’t like to play things safe and he spends his hobby-time instigating car chases with the local authorities. During the big homecoming celebration however, Roscoe takes things to a new level when he steals his friend’s exceptionally nice ride and also kidnaps the homecoming queen Peggy Sue Turner (played by Janet Julian) who soon takes a liking to the brash young man. Peggy Sue isn’t just any girl though, she is the daughter of the local police chief! Now, on the road, the chase is on! Roscoe has the sheriff chasing after him, Peggy Sue’s football star homecoming-date, Roscoe’s good friend who is after his borrowed car and nearly anyone else on the road who can give him a good chase. Will Roscoe find a way out of this situation before one of these parties catches up with him, or will he be forced to pay the price?

The Review
With a name like Smokey Bites the Dust, one knows precisely what is being called forth in the minds of fans. Our film today is a Roger Corman produced car chase romp, and the allusions to Smokey & the Bandit were absolutely bound to happen and no doubt they were intended. There are some very certain similarities between Bandit and Smokey Bites the Dust, that is for sure. There’s the overweight sheriff, not too different than Jackie Gleason’s character in Bandit, who is hunting our lead character. There’s the use of CB radios to have fun with the aforementioned silly sheriff character, who continually takes the required lumpings throughout the course of the movie. Then there’s the outrageous mix of comedy and action set pieces, as well as the love interest who is cold at first but soon warms up to our hero. There’s no question that the two films fought for the same exact audience, but one movie is certainly the more competent of the two. I’ll let you guess which movie that is, but I’ll give you a hint: it’s the one that is still remembered favorably the world over. Smokey Bites the Dust isn’t necessarily a bad movie mind you. It is a mindless piece of action fluff that is certainly capable of pleasing its core audience, but if you expect much more than a few choice scenes from this one, then you’re bound to be left disappointed. The magic that the other films featured on this Shout! Factory triple feature action pack is sorely missing from this title, and it is easily the worst film of the bunch.

I suppose I could just be spoiled after all of the tremendous transfers that were featured on the box set. Both Georgia Peaches and The Great Texas Dynamite Chase look amazing for their age, but the general look of Smokey Bites the Dust is just awful in comparison to the two other films on the set. Why this movie was not held to the pristine standards of the other two movies is something that I can’t answer, but for sure the lesser film was definitely given the lesser treatment in this situation. To address the picture quality, I’m sure that the folks at Shout! Factory weren’t slacking up and simply released the film in the only version possible, which is unfortunate but not intolerable. Another division from the rest of the DVD pack, aside from simply the picture quality, is its attempt at comedy. Although all three films on this set are knee deep in the world of the action-comedy genre, Smokey Bites the Dust certainly seems to be the most humor-oriented. The film as a whole unfortunately captures the very worst of 80’s style comedy. Similar to the Porky’s sequels and early Troma efforts, the comedy is over the top to the point that it starts to become painful to watch.

Smokey Bites the Dust has so many issues going against it that ultimately leaves it a weak product. This is unfortunate because many of the cast members actually seem talented and I’m sure there could have been a decent action-comedy to be made with all of these ingredients. Unfortunately, you can always ruin a good meal when you add too many ingredients. While Smokey Bites the Dust does feature a relatively talented cast of actors, the characters simply don’t inspire any kind of conviction or interest to endear them to the audience. In fact, outside of the confines of a comedic action movie the character of Roscoe really isn’t much of a hero. Here we have a kid stealing car after car, damaging private property, buying ten packs of cigarettes for a seven year old (in possibly the funniest bit of the entire movie, and also the most morally questionable) and all of it for no real purpose whatsoever other than the fact that things are boring in smalltown America. When you really start to look at motivations, this movie doesn’t really hold up that well. Roscoe literally travels across the country in order to evade boredom and in the context of the movie he potentially ruins the lives of a handful of people and we ultimately have no idea why. I realize that this is a comedy, first and foremost, but even a comedy should be held to some standards of narrative.

The comedy is certainly what tanks this one though. The humor found here is in the over the top variety that is sometimes found in other Roger Corman works, such as Death Race 2000, but this is a film that lacks the satire or wit of that particular classic. Instead we are treated to “bits” throughout, that come across as “shtick”, which are dependent on gimmickry and are not necessarily realistic situations. For instance there is a “humorous” sequence involving our sheriff character (played by Walter Barnes, who is no substitute for Jackie Gleason’s archetypal portrayal of the sheriff in Smokey & The Bandit) being chased by another law official, which leads to a sequence where the two chase each other around in circles around a tree while a “ring around the posies” style children’s tune plays over the soundtrack. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the silly sequences revolving around the very young Bill Forsythe. The classic veteran actor plays the football star on the tail of Roscoe who has kidnapped his “girl”. His gimmick is that he often puts his hands together and says a prayer, as if he were a religious man, but then he signs off by thanking his “coach”. Since the character is a football jock, of course his coach would mean everything to him! Oh the cunning wit and daring satire!

The Conclusion
Look, there are obviously far worse films out there and it doesn’t help that both Georgia Peaches and The Great Texas Dynamite Chase are both so entertaining, but on its own merits Smokey Bites the Dust is certainly a weak piece of action-comedy. While I don’t recommend it on the whole, as a part of the action packed triple feature from Shout! Factory, it’s not such a bad deal. I give the film a two out of five.

Georgia Peaches

Posted by JoshSamford On April - 15 - 2011

Georgia Peaches (1980)
Director: Daniel Haller
Writers: Mike Benderoth, Monte Stettin, William Hjortsberg and Lois Luger
Starring: Tanya Tucker Terri Nunn and Lane Smith

The Plot: Sue Lynn, also known as Peach Pit, works as a mechanic for herself at The Georgia Peaches Automotive. Her boyfriend Dusty isn’t as interested in the straight life and instead bootlegs moonshine with his suped up ride. Vivian Stark is the local crime kingpin, and she has had eyes on The Georgia Peaches for a long time. When she finally makes a proposition to buy them out, in order to fill the car yard with stolen vehicles, Sue Lynn turns her down and sprays her car down with oil. Sue Lynn’s sister, Lorette (played by real life country singing legend Tanya Tucker), has just made it in from Nashville after her singing career has recently began to take off. The family reunion has to be put on hold however, as the group is set-up by the evil Vivian Stark who has planted both stolen vehicles and moonshine on their property. Dusty, Sue Lynn and Lorette are carried off to jail but are then miraculously bailed out by an unknown entity. It turns out that treasury agent Randolph Dukane (played by veteran actor Lane Smith) was the one who provided the bail money, but in order to beat this wrap the group will have to go undercover within the criminal underworld of counterfeit cigarettes which are being carried over state lines. Will The Georgia Peaches manage to find a way out of this mess?

The Review
Continuing on with my coverage of these Roger Corman produced action capers, I next turned my interest to the Corman produced title Georgia Peaches which is a part of the Roger Corman Triple Feature Action Pack produced by Shout! Factory. Georgia Peaches is also known as The Georgia Peaches and Follow That Car, and has quite the interesting history. Originally produce as a feature length pilot for a future television show, the project ultimately never made the cut for whatever reason and has remained in relative obscurity until the recent re-release via Shout! Factory. Now, simply popping Georgia Peaches into your DVD player, one might not instantly recognize the project as something that was made with television in mind. For one, the quality of the print has held up spectacularly and this release of the feature looks better than many theatrically released films I have seen from the early 90’s, much less 1980. Secondly, the cinematography is certainly on par with any of the other films released on this three film DVD set. However, once you know about the film’s background, it becomes easier to spot just what makes the project a TV-movie. On general terms, the project is a mixed bag with many exciting elements as well as an equal number of mundane and boring pieces that do not add up to a cohesive whole. However, Georgia Peaches remains worth watching simply for its down home feel and great chemistry from its well put together cast.

There are two genres that a film such as Georgia Peaches seems to fall into, and as far as I can tell their names are but a new creation from this post-Tarantino re-evaluation of “grindhouse” and exploitation cinema. The two genres would be the aptly titled Hixploitation and Carsploitation subgenres of American exploitation, but if one wants to really start looking at these objectively, both genres line up together many times over. In fact, all three films from this Shout! Factory box set could equally be described in either of these subgenres. Georgia Peaches is a movie that is defined by its Southern pride, from the rebel flags and the authentic accents right down to casting a country music singer in the leading role. This is a project that breathes love and pride for Southern heritage. It seems that during the seventies and eighties the stigma of Southerners, and our apparent love for NASCAR, brought upon images of every hillbilly with a steady job owning some kind of suped up hotrod. Therefore movies such as this always seemed to have some kind of bad-to-the-bone automobile. To the point that the cars became the true focal point for many movies of this variety. Georgia Peaches is only different in the fact that the choice of car is a slightly more modern beast (well, for the time). The great Trans Am that Dusty drives throughout the movie almost seems like the kind of ride one might see cruising down Sunset strip rather than bolstering through the back alley dirt roads that are featured here, but it certainly has the muscle behind it to keep the action sequences exciting. The real difference here however is the near-science fiction level of gadgets that this car has attached to it.

In an unforgettable opening sequence, we get to see just what these gadgets can really do as our film jumps right into the action. The opening shot introduces us to one of the previously mentioned back roads on which we see two cops keeping an eye out for anyone who might be “running shine”. This activity apparently goes on during the broad daylight, which is an oddity that even the police officers remark on. We are ultimately lead into a fairly impressive chase sequence when the character Dusty comes barreling out of nowhere, a chase sequence that sees motorbikes flying off of bridges and car wrecks galore. This then leads to an epic “driving through fire” sequence as we see our leading man use spray nozzles out the back of his car which squirt his moon shine down the highway in a perfect stream. He flicks another switch inside of his car and this causes an explosion that lights the moonshine ablaze, completely covering the road in fire. A fire that he must then drive through! The entire sequence is completely implausible, but is ridiculously entertaining and makes promises early on in the movie that few films could possibly hope to make good upon. Unfortunately, due to its rather episodic nature, the comparison between the rambunctious opening and the sagging middle section of the film becomes very apparent. The third act, where we see Dusty and the two girls split up into two teams in order to go undercover and bust apart a criminal operation, is lacking in action but is plentiful in made-for-tv shenanigans. Expect a lot of joking, tom foolery and sneaking around uptight posers while the free spirited young women stick it to the man.

The strongest thing that Georgia Peaches has going for it is the cast. Their chemistry, their performances and their general enthusiasm are what makes this movie as good as it is. Being that Tanya Tucker was a famed country music singer at this point, one doesn’t expect a great deal from her performance, but surprisingly she is excellent in her role. It also doesn’t hurt that she is knock down beautiful here as Lorrette Peach. As someone who is used to seeing her as an older woman, it’s almost a revelation to find her to be so young and stunning. A talented actress, she is placed alongside many veteran character actors and rising stars from the time. Terri Nunn, who I am not familiar with, also provides a terrific performance in the lead as Sue Lynn Peach who is at first presented as more of a tomboy next to Lorette’s sexy city-girl glamor, but before long both women find themselves in some revealing attire and are shaking their money makers. Dirk Benedict makes the last of the trio, and he is as cocky and charismatic as he has ever been. Sporting an impressive Southern accent, he tends to take his character over the top, but in a movie such as this – it’s all about fun. An interesting role for Benedict, as it came after Battlestar Galactica and before The A-Team, but one that shouldn’t be forgotten as it’s the most active and outlandish that I have ever seen him.

The Conclusion
A film of many parts but not a brilliantly put together whole, I will say that I did like Georgia Peaches quite a bit despite some of my reservations. Overall, I end up giving it a three out of five. It is a solid action yarn with a stellar cast who put in some fun performances. Besides, where else are you going to see a young Tanya Tucker wear leather neon-blue tights? Not necessarily a “must see”, but certainly an incentive to pick up the Shout! Factory triple bill box set.





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