• Savage Streets (2-Disc Remastered Edition)



    Released by: Scorpion Releasing
    Released on: September 18, 2012.

    Director: Danny Steinman

    Cast: Linda Blair, John Vernon, Linnea Quigley

    Year: 1984

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    The Movie:


    Directed by Danny Steinmann (probably best known for 1985's Friday The 13th Part V: A New Beginning but who hasn't made a motion picture since), Savage Streets is probably best known for Linda Blair's topless bathtub scene and the nasty rape of a young Linnea Quigley as it is anything else but the film is good, trashy fun if you don't take it too seriously.


    Blair plays a tough chick named Brenda who takes her mute sister Heather (Linnea Quigley) and a bunch of her gal-pals out on the town only to run into trouble in the form of a bunch of punk-ass thugs lead by Jake (Robert Dryer), who is none too happy when his car gets messed up. Jake and his pals: Vince (Johnny Venocur), Fargo (Sal Landi), and Red (Scott Mayer) decide to pay the girls back in a big, big way. The school principal, Underwood (John Vernon), knows something is up but even he isn't prepared for the brutal rape that's inflicted on poor unsuspecting Heather. Once Brenda gets word of what's happened, she gets the girls together and decides to show those punks that payback really is a bitch as she grabs a crossbow, slaps on a jumpsuit, and goes all Bronson on them...


    Blair's great in a role that was originally intended for Cherie Currie (of The Runaways) even if she looks about as tough as a busty chipmunk. She talks the talk and walks the walk and looks completely out of place but that doesn't stop her from completely throwing herself into the role, even if the role probably didn't deserve that much effort in the first place. She and Quigley, who delivers a surprisingly convincing performance here, actually share some believable and tender moments in the movie and their relationship is completely convincing, if more than a little contrived. The male cast members, John Vernon (who had previously worked with Blair on the equally trashy Chained Heat) notwithstanding, just seem to be having fun with their performances. They're nothing but hammy menace from beginning to end but their ridiculous faux surf punk outfits and corny dialogue at least make them enjoyable enough as fodder for Brenda's anger.


    Steinmann wisely keeps the violence and sleaze coming at a pretty quick pace meaning that the quick succession of these scenes ensures that we don't pay as much attention to the clichés and plot holes as we might otherwise. The end result is a fairly trashy work of gritty exploitation featuring, aside from the rape, a couple of good kill scenes, Linda Blair naked in a tub, and a quality girl on girl shower scrap where Blair's white t-shirt leaves very little to the imagination making one wonder if she was hired for her acting ability or her rack.


    The corny new wave/rock soundtrack is complimented nicely by a lot of neon and great eighties Los Angeles location shooting. This helps to make up for a couple of slow spots but by and large what we're left with is near classic American trash filmmaking. It isn't good in a traditional sense but it's certainly enjoyable enough for what it is, and that's basically Blair doing her own sort of new wave Paul Kersey with flared nostrils thing - for some of us, that's enough.


    Video/Audio/Extras:


    The 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is a new scan done in high definition from the IP. The old BCI transfer was interlaced but looked pretty good otherwise. This new progressive scan transfer still shows some mild print damage throughout, but shows nice detail and very good color reproduction. Skin tones look fine, shadow detail isn’t bad and while the image maintains its gritty, grainy look, overall it’s quite strong.


    The English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track on this release is quite nice. The levels are all well balanced and there aren't any problems with any obvious hiss or distortion. Dialogue stays clean and clear and despite a little bit of shrillness in the very high end of the mix, things sound pretty good here, particularly the score and the soundtrack music. No alternate language dubs or subtitles of any kind are provided.


    For this release, Scorpion has carried over everything from the long out of print BCI special edition release and thrown in some new extras as well. Let’s start with the first disc…


    Carried over from that last release are three commentary tracks. The first comes producer John Strong and actors Robert Dryer (who played Jake) and Johnny Venocur (who played Vince) and they're joined by moderator David Decouteu. Strong talks about how the picture came together, noting that the film was undercapitalized when it first started shooting for four days before he and his team bailed it. Strong tells some interesting stories and discusses what ideas they kept and what ideas they changed before the production finished. Venocur, who insists he's 'still an asshole,' and Dryer talk about their characters, their co-stars and what it was like working on set, and they also talk about the fairly notorious rape scene and what it was like working on that controversial moment. There's a good sense of humor to the track (at one point they kid around and mention that the film was originally called Grease!) but there are quite a few good stories in here making this track well worth a listen.


    The third commentary track joins cinematographer Stephen Posey with actors Robert Dryer and Sal Landi, joined by Mark Hoight who serves as a moderator and points out the similarity in type face in the credits between this picture and those directed by John Carpenter! Hoight keeps the trio talking as they discuss what scenes were improved and what scenes were shot using the script, what it was like working on the picture, their thoughts on the people they worked with on the film and how Danny Steinmann kept everyone going during the night shoots. Everyone seems quite fond of the shower scene and the participants talk about shooting in a school just outside of Los Angeles. Again, a fair bit of discussion is given to the rape scene, and they talk about the use of music in the film a fair bit as well. This is a good natured track that, like the second commentary, is a nice mix of humor and interesting information.


    The final track featuers director Danny Steinman and is moderated by Michael Felsher, who essentially interviews the director about the picture. Steinmann talks about how he first tried to make it as an actor but wound up working in Puerto Rico making commercials when that didn't work out. From there he became a director and thus was born Savage Streets (and The Unseen, but that's a different story). Steinman talks about some of the interesting people he's worked with throughout his career and he talks specifically about his involvement on this film, sharing stories about his cast (he's quite fond of Linnea Quigley) and crew and about shooting the picture on location. A lot of the commentary is observational and there are spots where Steinman gets a little quiet, but Felsher does a good job of keeping him talking for the most part. Steinman also talks about some of his other pictures, including his thoughts on The Unseen, on Friday The 13th Part V: A New Beginning and on High Rise.


    Also included on the first disc are three interviews, the first of which is with Robert Dryer (5:54, fullframe) who shows up and talks about his character, what it was like working with star Linda Blair and Linnea Quigley (who he describes as a trooper), his co-star John Venocur, and director Danny Steinmann. He shares a couple of interesting stories here and finishes things off by jokingly insisting that he was appalled by the violence in the film but then summing it up by saying 'it was what it was.' True enough!


    Johnny Venocur (14:03, fullframe) shows up next and he talks about his character and how he wound up moving from New York to L.A. to work in film. He talks about what it was like playing his part in this picture and how it was a great moment in his life. He seems pretty fond to remember his various female co-stars in the film and he talks about working with Bostonian Bob Dryer, who he struck up a friendship with during the shoot. Venocur's memories are all pretty keen here, he seems to have enjoyed working with Steinmann and John Strong came in to save the project while it was in trouble and how he regards Stong as a 'consummate producer.'


    Last but not least, John Strong (14:14, fullframe) explains things from the producer's side of the spectrum, explaining how he wound up getting the job as the producer of the film when one of his attorney's alerted him of a 'distressed picture' that was a perfect picture for him to get involved with - from there, he ran with it. He explains how he funded the film, what he liked about the script, who helped him finance the film, and what he thinks about the various cast of players and their characters. He talks about the MPAA's initial X rating and how he demanded that Jack Valenti let him appeal the decision and how he did so with a serious back injury and won! All of this material is from the old BCI release, right? Right! But the first disc also includes an optional intro/outro to the movie from hostess Katarina Leigh Waters that is amusing, as well as a trailer for the feature and trailers for a few other Scorpion Releasing titles like Kill And Kill Again, Joysticks, Death Ship and Alley Cat.


    Disc Two contains a bunch of interviews (that you can watch individually or by way of a ‘play all’ button), the first of which is with another interview with Robert Dryer (22:03, anamorphic widescreen). Interviewed in the Marriott Hotel at Monsterpalooza 2012, he speaks about how he got into acting, how he wound up in New York studying at the Academy Of The Dramatic Arts which lead to a trip to L.A. which wound him the part in Savage Streets. He talks about the original director, what it was like working with Danny Steinman, and working with many of his co-stars.


    Up next is an interview with producer John Strong (12:42, anamorphic widescreen) and he speaks about how the original producer for the film ran out of money after shooting for a few days and then wound off going on a ‘strange journey into substances’ which lead to his buying the picture and rewriting it before selling it. He talks about Blair’s involvement, describing her as a ‘hoot’ and a ‘lovely lady’ and expresses his admiration for John Vernon, describing him as an ultimate professional. From here he talks about other aspects of the film, the rest of the key cast members like Linnea and Bobby Dryer, dealing with the MPAA, and more.


    Sal Landi (9:18, anamorphic widescreen), who played Fargo, talks about his role in the film starting with some stories about how he and Bobby Dryer had the same agent, both reading for the same part. From here he had to attend a cast meeting and how the film wound up being quite a long shoot by the standards of the day, noting that most of the movie was shot at night. He too shares some memories of working with the rest of the cast and crew, noting that he didn’t get to know Linnea very well because she was deeply immersed in her character, and he shares some stories about the production that are worth listening to.


    From here, Scott Mayers (12:25, anamorphic widescreen) appears on camera, also shot at the Marriott in Burbank at Monsterpalooza, to discuss how his dad was a character actor which leads to him meeting his dad’s agent and getting some commercial work. This lead to some TV work and then feature work like Savage Streets. He talks about how he got the part when he was discovered as a punk at a club and given an interview, and things just sort of snowballed for him from there. From here the interview follows suit – discussions of what it was like working with Steinman and with the different actors and actresses featured in the film. He also notes that he didn’t want to piss anyone off and that he just wanted to have fun doing the movie, which he then describes as a ‘dream come true!’


    After that, Vince himself, Johnny Venocur (9:32, anamorphic widescreen), appears on camera to talk about his character, how he landed the role (‘I slept with the director!’ he jokes), how he knew Linda Blair from The Exorcist, and how he wound up in Savage Streets through his agent. He also notes that he was in love with Linda Blair and how great it was working with her, describing her as a professional and noting that he hopes he can work with her again. From there we get more reminiscences on the cast and crew and the importance of improvisation on the part of the actors who played The Scars.


    Carried over from the last release is Red Shirt Pictures' Confession Of A Teenage Vigilante (17:03, anamorphic widescreen) which is essentially an interview with the film's star, Linda Blair, who talks about how at this time in the eighties there weren't a lot of good roles in films like this for women. She talks about how the film came into trouble early on until the production was bailed out and she talks about working with the cast and crew from the picture. She also discusses her nude scene in the film, shooting with John Vernon, how much she likes some of her one-liners from the movie, the costume and wardrobe used in the film, and her relationship both on and off screen with Linnea Quigley.


    Red Shirt Pictures also supplies Heather Speaks: An Interview With Linnea Quigley (10:45, anamorphic widescreen), again carried over from the previous release. Here Linnea talks about how she got the part, how the producers warned her that she was going to get raped and how she took the role simply because she wanted to work, and what it was like filming that nasty scene. She discusses how it was harder than she thought it would be shooting a film where she has no dialogue and what it was like working with Blair.


    The Final Word:


    Savage Streets remains a high point in low budget eighties exploitation offering up enough nudity and violence to appease anyone with a taste for sleaze without skimping on style or story. While it might not be the most thought provoking or deep film ever made, it does what it does very well and Scorpion’s new two-disc reissue is a great package, carrying over all of the extras from the previous BCI release and throwing in some new ones as well as an improved transfer. Awesome stuff.