Bitch Slap -- Film Review
"Bitch Slap" earns its title. A post-feminist exploitation flick in which three gorgeous, big-breasted women beat the crap out of men -- and then one another -- this tongue-in-cheek parody sends up any number of films, most notably those by Russ Meyer ("Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill") and Roger Corman, for whom the film's director/co-writer, Rick Jacobson, once worked. He also helmed many episodes of "Xena: Warrior Princess," so let's just say Jacobson is sticking close to his roots.
However you slice it -- and there's plenty of slices, gouges, kidney punches, neck twists, gun shots and explosions to suit any action fan -- the film has it both ways: Its female empowerment comes with enough T&A to rev the engines of any heterosexual male. For that matter, because the action has a strong lesbian overdrive, why limit this to men?
Boxoffice might be modest, though "Bitch" looks like a winner in home video. Sensing this, IM Global and Epic Slap are releasing the film Friday1/8 in theaters (via Freestyle) and VOD.
The movie begins as a car roars into a remote desert encampment, its engine and the pounding music battling for control of the soundtrack. Three women emerge from the rattle-trap, one adorned in high heels and all in scanty clothes that cling to their bodies like sweat on a summer day.
They survey a rusty trailer and gasoline cans that litter the hideaway. Then they pull a bound and wounded man from the car's trunk. They intend to make him give up the location of what they seek and don't mind using extreme pain in that quest.
Our dramatis personae are Camero (America Olivo), a pill-popping killer; Trixie (Julia Voth), an "angelic" stripper; and Hel (Erin Cummings), a mysterious underground op. Their captive is Gage (Michael Hurst), but don't worry whether he survives -- he will continue through the movie either way.
For "Bitch" is neither the first movie, nor likely to be the last, to emulate the ingenious reverse plotting of "Memento," where its backstory unfolds in flashbacks to fill you in on the who's and why's behind everyone's presence in this godforsaken landscape.
All the women have secrets, so betrayals cut back and forth as the trio fights one another and those who follow them into the hideaway. The latter includes a sheriff's deputy named Fuchs (Ron Melendez) -- his name mischievously mispronounced by Hel -- and two psycho killers, an egregious example of manhood named Hot Wire (William Gregory Lee) and a Japanese hottie with a lethal yo-yo named Kinki (Minae Noji). Of course she's named Kinki.
The actresses deliver highly sensual performances where every thought and desire get communicated more through their body language than actual dialogue. Their stares, postures, movements, snarls, smacks, evasions and feral reactions convey whatever emotional inner life these absurd caricatures might possess. Everything takes place on the surface. No subtext allowed.
The stunts are designed by Quentin Tarantino's favorite female stuntwoman, Zoe Bell, who doubles for the actresses as well. These are bravado stunts of increasingly impossible physicality and viciousness. And in high heels!
These do raise questions, though: How many bitch slaps are too many? How many cat fights will spoil a litter box? Whatever the answer, "Bitch" goes well beyond.
So feel free to go out for a popcorn and soda at any time during "Bitch." You won't miss a thing.
Opens: Friday, Jan. 8 (Freestyle)
Production: Bombshell Pictures/Epic Slap
Cast: Julia Voth, Erin Cummings, America Olivo, Michael Hurst, Ron Melendez, William Gregory Lee, Minae Noji
Director: Rick Jacobson
Screenwriters: Rick Jacobson, Eric Gruendemann
Producers: Eric Gruendemann, Rick Jacobson
Director of photography: Stuart Asbjornsen
Production designer: Vali Tirsoaga
Music: John R. Graham
Costume designers: Rosalida Medina, Robin Lewis West
Editors: Joe McFadden, Corey Yaktus
Rated R, 108 minutes