Thursday, September 1, 2016

Savage Instinct (1991) [copyright 1989]

... aka: Edge of Fear
... aka: Macho Woman
... aka: They Call Me Macho Woman!

Directed by:
Patrick G. Donahue

Two years after her husband is killed in a car accident by a drunk driver, Susan Morris (Debra Sweaney) decides to realize their mutual dream of buying a piece of land out in the country. Realtor Cecil Thorne (Lory-Michael Ringuette) takes her into the sticks, they get a flat tire and it's then that they inadvertently arouse the suspicions of a bunch of crazed biker goons living there on a ranch. The goons, led by the big, bald Mongo (former track athlete and Olympian Brian Oldfield) deal in cocaine and apparently aren't used to anyone being out that way, so they pursue the widow and Realtor in their jeep and run them off the road. Their car rolls down an embankment, Susan's legs get pinned and the cowardly Cecil runs off to supposedly "get help." He doesn't make it far. When Susan finally frees herself, she finds a barn which turns out to be the goons' headquarters / coke lab. After a run-in with Apples (Paul Henri), she manages to escape only to run into the rest of the gang. She's pushed down, slapped, bitten and kissed, has her top ripped open and is finally gagged and tied up in a horse stall.

Seeing how seemingly every character in this movie wants to rape Susan, she's paid a visit by Star (Monica Mullen), the sole female gang member (and thus a lesbian, of course!), who attempts to have her way with her. Our plucky heroine manages to free herself, the two get into a cat fight with a pitchfork and Susan escapes after tackling Star out of a door in the hayloft and then punching her out. Into the woods she runs, next running across Georgie (Jerry Johnson), who also attempts to rape her. He rips off her panties and feels her up but she fights back and rams a twig into his ear (!) and then stabs him in the leg with his switchblade. She makes her way to another ranch, this one owned by elderly Mr. Wilson (J. Brown), but he too is in cahoots with the goons and is actually in charge of delivering the drugs to inner cities. The gang shows up again, call her a bitch and a bimbo and Mongo orders them to "Tie her up in the barn and take her shoes!" That they do, but another horny gang member attempts rape #3 and ends up getting his head impaled on a nail instead. After Susan flees into the woods yet again, Mongo promises his men a 5,000 bonus if they manage to capture her alive and 10,000 if they can kill her.

After another chase, Susan finds a road and flags down a trio of beer-drinking teen boys driving by. After hopping into their car she soon realizes that, even though they are in no way affiliated with the gang, they too want to rape her! They pull onto a country road, the goons show up again and somehow manage to kill all three of the guys, including hanging one and popping a tire so another gets crushed under the car. After managing to elude the gang several more times, including stepping on their heads to get around them and finding an abandoned police car and NOT driving away in it, Susan stumbles upon a shed. It is there she finds all that she needs for her final confrontation with the bad guys, including axes, bolts, spiked shoes, leather to make harnesses, weapon holders and a whip out of and clothing to fashion herself a sexy midriff-baring She Rambo outfit (!) Somehow she's also managed to find some makeup and a few cans of Aqua Net to complete the look. What follows is a bloody retaliation as “macho woman” flings axes and bolts into the guys, gouges out eyeballs, chops off heads and lures men into various silly booby traps she's set up in the woods.

This is a cheap, dumb and poorly made backwoods revenge movie and perhaps the most preposterous “girl kicks ass” movie of its era. The acting is terrible, the dialogue is terrible, the editing is terrible, the attempts at camp humor are terrible and all of the characters (including our overly spunky leading lady) are one-dimensional, unlikable and obnoxious. It's also filled with moronic one-liners and has too many continuity errors to count, including a hilarious moment when a would-be rapist's pants are up one minute and then mysteriously down around his ankles a shot later. It's hard to tell exactly what the filmmakers even had in mind here. Sometimes they seem to be taking the plot seriously and other times are desperately attempting to be tongue-in-cheek. That said, they're at least smart enough to jump from one silly, poorly-staged action scene to the next so this is never really boring. Strangely, there is no nudity, but there's plenty of violence, blood and gore, plus some decent stunt work and a few amusing bits. Most memorably, the main bad guy dispatches victims by headbutting them while wearing a spiked headband!

Filmed in early 1989, this wouldn't be released until several years later. It played at several film festivals (including at Cannes and Fantasporto) in 1991 under the title Edge of Fear. In 1992, it was issued on VHS by AIP under the new title Savage Instinct and later made the rounds on late night cable under that same title. After Troma acquired the rights, it was distributed on VHS and DVD under the new, predictably schlocky title They Call Me Macho Woman and with the tag line was “Born to shop... I learned to kill!”

Director Donahue also works as a stuntman / stunt coordinator and had previously made the bad action film Kill Squad (1982), which has gained a small cult following. The production manager was William Rice, who co-directed the strange The Vineyard (1989) around the same time. Some of the same actors here (including Sweaney and co-star Sean P. Donahue, the director's brother) also appeared in that one.

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