Linda Blair is and always will be most famous for playing the head spinning, pea soup puking, potty mouthed possessed pre-teen Regan MacNeil from the one and only Exorcist. As a role it both made and doomed her acting career in one fell swoop.
Blair has however appeared in many movies and TV series, ranging from horror’s to drama’s to comedies, such as Repossessed with the late great Leslie Nielsen to a surreal stint in the S Club 7 sequel series L.A. 7; all made in an attempt to both shed and parody her most famous performance.
One such role is in Savage Streets, an 80’s-tastic vigilante movie in the same vein as Death Wish which casts Blair as Brenda, a sassy, sexy, spunky High School girl who loves hanging out with her gal pals, smoking, getting into trouble and having fun.
On one such night, out with her younger sister Heather (scream queen Linnea Quigley) who is both deaf and mute, her girl gang crosses paths with a nasty crew of low life drug dealing thugs calling themselves The Scars. When the girls spurn the misfits over-zealous advances and steal their car and fill it with garbage, the thugs lead by Jake (Robert Dryer) vow revenge on Brenda and her bunch.
Their ego’s bruised and their machismo challenged, The Scars take their payback in a barbaric evil act, raping Heather and beating her nearly to death. After getting no help from her school or the police Brenda sets out to settle the score with a leather cat suit, bear traps and a crossbow at her disposal to make the men pay for their crimes.
Co-written and directed by Danny Steinmann the man behind The Unseen and Friday the 13th: A New Beginning, Savage Streets is a piece of pure 80’s exploitation. Reminiscent of the Blaxplotation movies of the 70’s such as Cleopatra Jones and Pam Grier’s films Foxy Brown and Coffy, they all featured a strong female star who used sex and violence to get revenge on the men who wrong them in the same way Brenda does.
There is also an element of the rape revenge genre made famous by such movies as Straw Dogs and I Spit on your Grave in the Savage Streets story, with the brutal and nasty rape scene which is played out before us – providing the impetus for Brenda’s furious rampage as she takes each gang member out upping the movies gore and horror as she goes.
Nominated for a Razzie and a Saturn award for worst and best actress respectively for Savage Streets, Blair gives a great performances carrying the movie, inhabiting the role and delivering the slightly stupid script with as much seriousness as she can muster. The rest of the cast are reasonably believable if slightly stereotypical and Dirty Harry and Animal House‘s John Vernon pops up in a scene stealing performance as a foul mouthed principle – just to make it all the more interesting.
Released by Arrow this is a brand new transfer of the film, uncut for the first time in the UK with audio commentary by stars Sal Landi, Robert Dryer and Director of Photography Stephen Posey, director Danny Steinmann, producer John Strong and stars Robert Dryer and Johnny Venocur.
There are also interviews with Linda Blair, Linnea Quigley, Robert Dryer and John Strong and a collectors’ booklet featuring new writing on Savage Streets by Kier-la Janisse, author of “A Violent Professional: The Films of Luciano Rossi” and “House of Psychotic Women.” As always the cover is brilliant on the reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork and a double-sided fold-out poster.
Savage Streets gained notoriety at the time of its release for its C word swearing and Blair’s blatant nudity all of which is standard in today’s cinema. Some will see Savage Streets as a badly made 80’s exploitation movie full of pointless nudity, bad hair, bad music and violence. However it is an enjoyable trashy flick and if you love all those things (as I do!) then this is the perfect film for you.