Savage Streets

Savage Streets

DVD Rating: ****1/2

Reviewed by: David Graham

Read David Graham's film review of Savage Streets

A series of interviews with the principal players range from revealing to irritating. It's interesting to hear that veteran producer John Strong was the one who supplied the crowd-pleasing one-liners, the brutal but ridiculous dialogue that must have stopped teens in their tracks in its day, as his interview and commentary contributions mostly consist of routine back-slapping (everyone is "wonderful", and he shamelessly drops Tarantino's name in there). And come on, does he really expect us to believe he produced this schlock to offer "social commentary on anti-violence"? That sort of worthiness is never gonna wash with lines such as: "Too bad you're not double-jointed, cos if you were, you'd be able to bend over and kiss your ass goodbye!"

Linda Blair's recollections are fun to hear, the legendary actress coming across as very down-to-earth and charming, as does fellow B-movie icon Linnea Quigley, who gives perhaps the most honest account of her place in the film and showbiz in general. It's also refreshing to hear modest hard-man John Dryer admit that filming the rape scene gave him "nightmares" - you don't have to use your imagination to realise how haunting this sequence must have been for Quigley, who points out how hard it was to film without being able to make any noise at all.

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Johnny Venocer seems a lot like his character - geeky, out-of-place, but likable enough to be bearable with it. The actors are all thoroughly charismatic, just about making you wish they'd gone ahead with the proposed sequel where, for no obvious reason, Brenda was meant to team up with lead hood Jake, who apparently survived his climactic torching to "make The Elephant Man look like Mel Gibson".

A trio of yak-tracks cover a lot of ground even if they tend, perhaps unavoidably, to overlap one another. The main attraction is the personalities involved rather than the information they divulge; (ex-porno) director Danny Steinmann gives an especially intriguing commentary, betraying an unsavoury attitude that goes some way towards explaining the film's brazen nature (his laddish appreciation of one victim's breasts doesn't say much for the film's so-called 'feminist' subtext). It transpires he's never even seen his own film until today, so he mustn't think much of it either. He rags on some aspects that make his film memorable and insightful - aspects he had no involvement in, such as the opening sequence with Verucer secretly changing into his street-gear out of the safety of domesticity and the soundtrack that dates it so charmingly. Sometimes with special features, it's more informative to hear the opinions of an unrepentant ass-hole, so Steinmann's track makes for a suitably unflinching accompaniment to the movie.

The others feature Strong and stars, who mostly talk complementary gibberish for the duration. Getting the guys from the gang together is a nice idea, but their conversation fails to spark. It's hard to believe that four veteran actors couldn't come up with more to say to each other. To their credit, the other commentaries rarely fall silent but they're also a little unruly and excessive at times, with Sal Landi turning up twice for no good reason other than he probably had nothing else to do. A snazzy trailer is probably about as much of this film as many people will want to see but this is an undeniably generous package, giving the film the sort of five-star treatment it perhaps doesn't deserve.

Special mention, as always, is due to Arrow DVD for their newly-commissioned and entirely apt artwork, showcased along with the original designs via their customary double-sided poster and reversible sleeve. Their presentation of this cult curio is impeccable, with the film looking and sounding about as good as it probably ever will, retaining that venerable video-store vibe that might have been lost had it been given a Blu Ray restoration. The company's championing of obscure faves is always commendable but here it's a shame the actual article doesn't quite live up to their stellar treatment.

Reviewed on: 01 Aug 2011
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Savage Streets packshot
A teenager seeks revenge on thugs who raped her sister.
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Region: 2

Ratio: 1.85:1

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Brand new transfer of the film, uncut for the first time in the UK, audio commentary by stars Sal Landi, Robert Dryer and Director of Photography Stephen Posey, audio commentary by director Danny Steinmann, audio commentary by producer John Strong and stars Robert Dryer and Johnny Venocur; interviews with Linda Blair, Linnea Quigley, Robert Dryer and John Strong; 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; original trailer; reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork; double-sided fold-out poster; original mono audio.

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