Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (88 Films)
Released by: 88 Films
Released on: March 23rd, 2015.
Director: Fred Olen Ray
Cast: Linnea Quigley, Gunnar Hansen, Jay Richardson, Michelle Bauer
Fred Olen Ray’s Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (co-written by Ray and TL Lankford) follows a private dick named Jack Chandler (Jay Richardson). He’s a broke ass detective tasked with tracking down an heiress named Samantha (Linnea Quigley) who has run away from home. As he combs the seedy side of the city of angels looking for her, the men in blue at the L.A.P.D. are trying to solve a rash of murders in which men have been hacked up with chainsaws.
Jack gets a big lead in his case when he finds out that the cops have brought in a young woman matching Samantha’s description as a suspect in the chainsaw killings. He heads down to learn what he can learn but it’s not her. He does, however, swipe a matchbook from the evidence pile that leads him to a hotel and to a hooker named Mercedes (Michelle Bauer). After taking her out, he finally finds Samantha working as a stripper in a seedy dive but before he can do much about it, the girls drug him and knock him out. When he wakes up he’s bound and unable to free himself, forced to wait with the ladies for the arrival of The Master (Gunnar Hanson), the strange leader of an underground ancient Egyptian chainsaw worshipping cult!
There’s no pretense here, not attempts to disguise this film as anything that it is not – the title (which was originally just Chainsaw Hookers, Hollywood was added later to make it sounds more like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) pretty much tells you exactly what you’re in for. This is, quite literally, a movie about hookers with chainsaws and it just so happens to be set in Hollywood. Ray’s film gleefully celebrates that truth in advertising and delivers pretty much exactly what anyone setting out to watch a movie with this title would want: nudity, chainsaws, goofy humor and hey, Leatherface himself, Gunnar Hansen as the cult leader. A pretty great casting choice there and he actually winds up doing quite well in the role.
The film really belongs to Richardson, in that he’s the male lead and gets most of the dialogue. As the story centers around him and we pay close attention to his film noir/hardboiled detective style narration we travel along with him into the sordid underbelly of Los Angeles and meet the various bizarre characters that populate this world. Thankfully most of these characters are attractive ladies, the kind that take their clothes off a lot so the ‘naked lady’ factor in this one definitely helps to hold our attention (particularly when you factor in that both Linnea Quigley and Michelle Bauer spend most of the movie running around sans clothing). There aren’t really any attempts to scare here, the whole thing plays out with a wink and a nod and tongue placed firmly in cheek, but it moves fast and delivers a pretty constant barrage of crazy set pieces. The effects are awful, the mostly consist of someone off camera throwing body parts and spraying fake blood at those on camera, but the movie plays this up too (at one point a fake hand lands on Bauer’s breast, she gives it a dirty look and then swats it away).
Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers arrives on Blu-ray from 88 Films in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer scanned at 2K and framed at 1.78.1 widescreen in a ‘director approved restoration.’ This looks like basically the same transfer that was used on the domestic Blu-ray release from Retromedia reviewed here. Some print damage shows up throughout but it’s a cleaner presentation than what we’ve seen before, most of the print damage is pretty minor. Some compression artifacts do pop up here and there (though they seem more obvious in the screen caps than they do when the movie is in motion) but noise reduction is never an issue nor is edge enhancement. All in all, the movie looks very good on Blu-ray and we get quite a nice amount of detail and great color reproduction here.
Audio options are provided in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio and LPCM 2.0, both tracks in English. The aforementioned domestic Blu-ray didn’t feature lossless audio so 88’s disc is an upgrade in that department. Purists will appreciate the LPCM mix while surround-o-philes can take advantage of the 5.1 mix – both tracks feature nicely balanced levels and clean, clear audio. There are no alternate language options or subtitles available.
Hands down the coolest extra on this release, and it is a stacked one, is the inclusion of Linnea Quigley’s Horror Workout! Directed by Kenneth Hall and obviously starring Ms. Quigley, this thing is pretty nutty. Part B-grade schlock pictures and part fitness video, it starts off with a shower scene and then proceeds to show off a bunch of clips from some of her movie appearances. After that she does some stretching and exercise and then we head to a cemetery where some sort of zombie invasion is happening. Of course, Quigley is able to convince the zombies to work out with her, and she leads them in a choreographed dance routine around a swimming pool. After that she goes home and watches one of her own movies with some of her lingerie clad girlfriends. They work out for a bit and are then terrorized by a knife wielding maniac in a Ronald Regan mask. If the inclusion of Horror Workout itself wasn’t enough, there’s also an optional audio commentary here courtesy of Quigley and Hall who talk about how this oddball project came together, who B. Jane Holzer really is, who did what on the shoot, the locations and effects and quite a bit more.
88 Films have included two audio commentary tracks on this disc, the first with director Fred Olen Ray and moderator David DeCoteau that gives us a pretty thorough discussion of the film’s history. Ray is never too shy to talk about his own movies and he’s got a sharp memory, while DeCoteau is obviously into the movie and knowledgeable enough about it to keep Ray talking. The second track is with Calum Waddell and Justin Kerswell and it does a decent job of detailing the film’s history but also in covering its story and its appeal from a UK fans perspective. So there’s some decent info here about how you weren’t allowed, at one point, the use the word ‘chainsaw’ in a title in the UK, how there was a definite taboo attached to the movie, and loads more. It has as much to do with the cuts and censorship issues affecting the UK home video market at the time than the history of this picture itself, but as the first track covers all of that, this is kind of a unique way to approach the movie. Note that the US release featured an audio commentary with writer/director Fred Olen Ray and writer TL Lankford that has not been carried over to this release.
What has been carried over, however, is a featurette called Remembering Chainsaw Hookers Twenty-Seven Years Later. Included here are interviews with Michelle Bauer (who looks back on it very fondly and who is still very lovely!), Jay Richardson, Fred Olen Ray and David Decoteau. The interviewees have all got some amusing stories to tell here but what really stands out is how much everyone seems to have really enjoyed working with one another. Does it cover some of the same ground as the commentary? Of course, it almost has to, and it covers some of the same ground as the vintage featurettes (more on that in a minute) too, but that’s ok. We get enough fresh material and enough genuinely touching memories here that this is, for fans, very definitely worth a watch. The disc also includes a Making Of” Featurette that runs about twenty-five minutes in length and which features interviews with Ray, Quigley and Bauer. There’s a lot of talk about how the two actresses became involved with Ray on this picture, what it was like dealing with some of the stunt scenes involving the actual chainsaws, some of the effects, how they worked around the nearly non-existent budget that they had to work with and quite a bit more.
Rounding out the extras are the film’s original trailer, the five minute “Nite Owl Theater” episode in which we get to head into Fred’s ‘home’ to witness his decadent lifestyle (originally shot for the old Retromedia VHS and DVD release way back when) where naked girls play twister and his wife Kim parades around with her knockers out. Menus and chapter selection are also included as is an 88 Films trailer reel. The Movie Time Hollywood Premiere segment with Greg Kinnear that was included on the US release has not been included on this disc.
The Final Word:
The recent domestic Blu-ray release of Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers was great but this Region B disc from the UK trumps it by including two lossless audio options and even more importantly than that, Linnea Quigley’s Horror Workout! It loses a couple of extras from the US disc but makes up for it with a few exclusive supplements. The movie itself is a veritable trash classic. Funny, sexy and as goofy as they come, this is eighty minutes of ridiculous entertainment served up with all sorts of low budget laughs.
Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!
And hey, why not some caps from Linnea Quigley’s Horror Workout too?!?