Brenda, her deaf mute sister Heather and three friends are out one night, when Heather unable to hear a car coming steps out onto the road. Almost getting run over, the car stops and the girls instantly know the cars occupants, "the scars", a gang of dope dealers and street hustlers. Instead of getting an apology from the gang for almost hitting Heather, the girls are propositioned for sex and drugs. After a little more shouting at each other, the gang drives off to collect money from one of their "customers". A little while later, the girls see the car and decide to steal it to get their own back. The gang later discover the car abandoned and full of garbage.
A day or two after the car incident, the gang are at the school to deliver a beating to a student. One of the gang spot Heather walking into the gym, everybody goes to shower leaving Heather alone while she waits for Brenda to walk her home. One of the gang starts talking to Heather and she tries to show him some sign language. He then tries to force himself on her and she tries to escape, only to bump into the rest of the gang who then take turns to rape and beat her. Brenda and her friends go looking for Heather only to find her unconscious and bloodied on the floor, she's taken to hospital and placed in critical condition.
After another altercation between the leader of the gang called Jake and Brenda's friend Francine, a member of the gang gains a conscience and goes to the hospital to apologize to Heather who is in a coma. Brenda happens to walk in and forces the information out of him regarding who's responsible for the rape, armed with this information, Brenda sets out on a one woman vigilante mission to bring the gang to justice, armed with a crossbow, bear traps and a switchblade.
Linda Blair is a pretty good lead as Brenda, after shooting to stardom playing Regan in the Exorcist in 1973, she looked set to become a star. After struggling to cope with her fame at such a young age, she turned to drugs as so many other child stars have done in the past. In 77 she appeared in the sequel to The Exorcist, the absolutely dire Exorcist 2 : The Heretic. Enter the 80's and her career was almost over, so began the period of exploitation and cheap horror films that she would appear in throughout the decade. Savage Streets was shot in 84 when she was at the peak of her b-movie fame, and along with 81's Hell Night was the best of her 80's output. Linnea Quigley gave an excellent performance as Heather, Quigley was well known to horror fans in the 80's as any horror film that required nudity, she normally got the call. Graduation Day, Silent Night, Deadly Night, The Return Of The Living Dead, and Night Of The Demons were just a few of her topless roles. In Savage Streets she plays a deaf and mute "innocent", a type of role i'd never seen her in before and she really impressed me. I believed her character to be sweet and innocent, so the rape scene really seemed more disgusting than in most films, being mute she couldn't even scream. John Vernon was delightful as the school principal, every line he says is comedy magic, the best line being when he tells a member of the gang to "Go f*** an iceberg", a line that's become a regular part of my lexicon.
Director Danny Steinmann went on to direct Friday The 13th : A New Beginning the year later, it's the worst of the Friday sequels and he hasn't directed anything since, making it 26 years and counting. There's very little blood in the film, but there is copious amounts of boobs. Linda Blair has hers out in a bath tub scene, so there was no way Linnea Quigley wasn't going to go topless, even if it is a little uncomfortable compared to her nudty in other films. Most of the acting from Brenda's friends, her class mates and the gang leaves a lot to be desired. Apart from the rape scene, not that much actually happens in the frst hour. There's alot of tough talk, and some really inept girl fights between Brenda and Cindy (a schoolgirl who believes Brenda wants her man).
As usual with an Arrow dvd, it's another excellent release packed with the following extras.
Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork
Double-sided fold-out poster
Collector's 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
Brand new transfer of the film presented in original 1.85:1 anamorphic aspect ratio
Original mono audio
Audio commentary with stars Sal Landi, Robert Dryer and Director of Photography Stephen Posey
Audio commentary with director Danny Steinmann
Audio commentary with producer John Strong and stars Robert Dryer and Johnny Venocur
Confessions of a Teenage Vigilante: An interview with Linda Blair
Heather Speaks! An interview with Linnea Quigley
Getting the Job: Producer John Strong on Savage Streets
Video interviews with Johnny Venocur and Robert Dryer on their characters
Savage Streets is a 1980's exploitation film that's light on exploitation, has little blood but heavy on boobs, and the Death Wish style revenge doesn't really start until an hour in. The reason I like the film is because it was classic 80's cheese/sleaze, from the poor acting in most cases, the hilarious dialogue, the 80's fashion and the determination to make a good, fun film out of very little plot and a small budget ($1,200,000). Not one of my favourite of the recent Arrow releases, but for any fans of films such as Pieces or Slaughter High should get a kick out of this. 3 stars for the film, 5 stars for the Arrow dvd. 4 stars overall.