Saturday, November 19, 2016

Victims! (1985)

Directed by:
Jeff Hathcock

A woman heading toward her apartment gets a hatchet planted in her skull and takes an awkward tumble down the stairs. Another (nekkid) one with feathered hair and a tan line so bad her naughty bits almost blend in with her pristine bed sheets gets hacked up with a meat cleaver. And then a third woman gets stabbed repeatedly in broad daylight by a psycho dressed in some hilariously unconvincing drag. A witness to the last crime manages to chase down the psycho and wrestle him to the ground, he's shipped off to a nuthouse where the first sentence of a voice-over begins and then suddenly ends mid-sentence and then, strangely enough, this man, his victims and his crimes are never mentioned again. In fact, these scenes have absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the film we're about to watch and were probably tacked on to: 1. Pad out the running time. 2. Provide a moment of frontal nudity. And 3. So this could be released on home video as a slasher flick.

After the utterly senseless opening, we get to the real meat of the tale as two robbers; Peter (Robert Axelrod) and Eric (Lonny Withers) shoot a man and steal a car. They encounter a couple messing around in the woods, kill the guy, beat the girl up, gag her, strip her naked and take turns raping her. Meanwhile, our four unlucky heroines are getting ready for a trip to the desert to "study rock formations." Susan's overbearing mother doesn't understand why she doesn't like wearing bras and is afraid she's going to get knocked up. Janet works up a sweat exercising and takes a shower. Debbie is just kind of there. And Lisa's boyfriend doesn't like the fact she's going camping without a M-A-N around to protect them. Lisa snaps: "Just because we're women, you don't think we can take care of ourselves?!" Apparently not well enough sister or you wouldn't find yourself engaging in forced lesbian relations at gunpoint with your daisy-duke-sporting amiga.

After stopping at a gas station (where they're ogled by every guy there... probably because they're all dressed like hookers) and getting chased by two horny guys riding a dune buggy, the ladies finally reach their destination, which is ten miles from the nearest highway. They "study rock formations" by sitting around drinking and going skinny dipping. Having a feeling they're being watched and discovering someone has destroyed their campsite, they attempt to leave but whoever's watching them has already fucked up their car. Eventually they come face-to-face with the sadistic robbers. They're all smacked around, threatened with a gun, made to strip and get raped. In the most tasteless scene, one of the psychos forces one of the girls to go downtown on the other. Naturally, the women eventually get fed up with all this and manage to turn the tables on their attackers.

The only gore is the stuff tacked on at the beginning, but there's lots of nudity, a strange 'Nam flashback where one of the rapists kill a "gook bitch" and a sort-of castration scene (which oddly enough is pretty similar to what Ellen Page did in Hard Candy). The film seems to be striving for a feminist message (including some of the idiotic male characters equating how women dress with how they 'deserve' to get raped), but it's so exploitative and badly made that it's impossible to take seriously. The editing, lighting, sound recording and photography are all bloody awful.

Not surprisingly, none of the lead females (Ava Kauffman, Ann Richardson, Geri Schlessel and Pam Richards) appear to have acted in anything else. However, one of the rapists, Mr. Axelrod, did. He can be seen in the slasher SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE (1986), Alien Private Eye (1987), the terrible TV movie Bates Motel (1987), the remake of The Blob (1988) and many other films and television shows, but is probably best known for playing Lord Zedd on the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers TV series.

This appears to have been filmed well before 1985; probably around 1980-81 going by the makes of the cars seen in the film. Director Hathcock went on to make three other horror flicks; the shot-on video, psycho-kills-models slasher NIGHT RIPPER! (1986), the shot-on-video, snuff-filmmakers-kill-hookers exploiter Streets of Death (1987) and the awful Satanism tale Mark of the Beast (1990), which was later acquired by Troma and re-titled FERTILIZE THE BLASPHEMING BOMBSHELL so that someone would want to watch it. Mark / Fertizile has a lot in common with this one, including the dune buggy, the scantily-clad ladies and the desert location.

VHS from Simitar. No DVD.


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