Film review by: Witney Seibold
I’m not exactly sure where to start with this one. Rick Jacobson’s “Bitch Slap” is a large, chaotic movie, crammed with innumerable tiny tributes and ripoffs to equally innumerable “B” films from the 1950s to the 1990s. Its three lead actresses are all gorgeous, all noticeably busty, all tough-talking, all gay, and all possessed of iron fists for wailing wholesale on one another, are clearly picked up from the old films of Russ Meyer. The script pays lip service to feminism and tough females (indeed, one of the characters is seen reading a book entitled Difficult Women in Post-Feminist America), but is clearly made for titillation’s sake and for cheap action. It attempts to use its style as its substance; in short, it’s trying to copy Quentin Tarantino. It feels more like a Troma movie.
Three incredibly hot women arrive at a remote desert location, searching for buried treasure. They are Hel (Erin Cummings), a tough-talking redhead, and CEO of a sex toy company, Camaro (America Olivo), a drug-addicted lesbian ex-con, and Trixie (Julia Voth) a ditzy stripper. How the three of them came to be looking for buried treasure out in the middle of the desert is told in flashback. Hel and Camaro met in prison. Camaro promised to split a treasure of diamonds with Hel if Hel sprung Camaro from prison. Trixie was recruited to seduce and distract Gage (Michael Hurst), and steal a set of keys. Each flashback takes place slightly before the previous one, so the film could even be compared to “Memento.”
There is a run-in with a violent punkrocker named Hot Wire (William Gergory Lee) and his ultra-violent Japanese schoolgirl sidekick Kinki (Minae Noji from “General Hospital”). There is a spy subplot involving Kevin Sorbo, and a trip to a nunnery with a cameo by Lucy Lawless. There’s a shootout in Las Vegas and numerous fistfights. Camaro kills a guy with a motorcycle tire. Everyone in the film seems to dread a mysterious figure named Pinky, who seems to have superpowers and is immortal. Call him Keyser Söze if you must.
The story is ludicrous, but that’s o.k.; it’s mo more or less ludicrous than many of the “B” films “Bitch Slap” is paying homage to/ripping off. The filmmaking is way cheap, and goes to great lengths to make sure it doesn’t look cheap; it uses soft focus and quick editing to fudge the fact that a lot of it was shot on soundstages using green screens. Had it just bothered to be cheap, perhaps it would have been quick exploitation fun. I think, however that the filmmaking was a bit too ambitious and the acting a bit too good to reach that level.
Indeed, the actresses all give it their all. Cummings is excellent in the role of Hel, and I was very fond of Lee as the punk rocker, growling and cursing with an uncommon energy. I feel that the actors gave more to their roles than was really demanded. Bully on all of them.
Also enjoyable were the fighting and the sex. The fight scenes were choreographed by Zoë Bell from “Double Dare” and “Grindhouse.” She even has a cameo in the film, but if you blink, you’ll miss her. The fights move quickly, are well-choreographed, and are appropriately brutal. They are a delight to watch. There is one scene where two of the leading ladies have a heavy-petting session in an abandoned trailer. The scene goes on for a long time. While it was clearly included for mere titillation, it actually bothers to recall a time when sex scenes were sexy rather than mechanical.
All in all, though, “Bitch Slap” was a periodically thrilling, periodically amusing, and periodically sexy derivative style exercise with above-the-bar acting.
Some golden nuggets from “Bitch Slap:”
“Ram this in your clambake, bitchcakes.”
“The feminist movement will hoist its skirts to me!”
A vagina is referred to as a “chutney tube.” I’m not exactly sure what that means.