Friday, February 15, 2019

Naked Vengeance (1985)

... aka: Mad End
... aka: Nuda vendetta (Naked Revenge)
... aka: Satin Vengeance
... aka: Vengeance

Directed by:
Cirio H. Santiago

While getting ready to head home after a night on the town celebrating their wedding anniversary, happily married Mark (Terrence O'Hara) and Carla (Deborah Tranelli) Harris encounter a mugger assaulting a woman. When Mark attempts to help, he's shot dead. The police show up just in time to save Carla but not in time to capture the killer, who gets away. After the husband's funeral, a detective (Carmen Argenziano) informs Carla that none of the witnesses, including the woman who was attacked (a junkie / prostitute with a long rap sheet) and some people who watched the whole crime play out from a window, are willing to step forward to help i.d. the killer. Needing to escape the whole mess for a little while, Carla packs her bags, leaves L.A. and heads back to her small hometown of Silver Lake to stay with her parents.

Immediately after entering town she has an awkward encounter with gas station attendants Sparky (Nick Nicholson) and Burke (Ed Crick). Burke, who went to high school with Carla, hits on her, suggestively rubs her arm and offers to have an affair with her. Gee, how nice of him. Carla shrugs him off. Soon after, she has a run-in with ice truck driver Arnie (Don Gordon Bell), who blocks her path and then starts ogling her. And when she goes to pick up something for dinner, butcher Fletch (Kaz Garas) not so subtly hits on her ("I've got the best beef in town") and then asks her out. Needless to say, she declines his offer, as well. Seeing how Carla went to the big city to become an actress and married a wealthy architect, and none of these guys ever left their small town, it seems her mere presence is enough to drum up lots of jealousy and resentment. She's referred to as "little miss rich bitch" and a "tight ass closet nympho" despite being a hell of a lot nicer and more polite than most people probably would be under the circumstances.

Carla's parents have to go away for the weekend so she decides to take her mother's advice and go to the local tavern, have a few drinks, try to have a little fun and see if she can find some of her old high school friends. That doesn't work out too well when the one "friend" she bumps into turns out to be nosy and obnoxious and then the bartender (David Light) tries to come on to her, After slapping him the face, she decides to call it a night. But Carla can't even make it inside her car before getting hassled yet again, this time receiving a second helping of harassment from Mr. Beef. When she refuses his offer of dinner, he grabs her, slams her against a car and attempts to molest her. She knees him in the crotch and gets away. After arriving back at her parents home, she catches teenager Timmy (Steve Roderick), who sometimes does yard work for the dad, peeping in the window as she's changing clothes. If you're wondering, "Is everybody in this town a pervert?", you're not the only one. That's actually one of Tranelli's scripted lines of dialogue. And the answer is: Yes!

Carla attempts to take preventative measures but when she goes to see the useless Sheriff (Bill McLaughlin) he makes excuses for both the peeping ("He's got a boy's natural curiosity") and the harassment ("They're just having fun with you... Maybe they're just trying to pay you a complement.") He then says, "Why don't you relax a little bit?" Despite his astonishing ineptitude and insensitivity, he does manage to at least warn Fletch to leave Carla alone; a warning he heeds about as well as a Friday the 13th character heeds a warning about staying out of the woods.

After a drunken night at the tavern, Fletch, Timmy and all of the other previously-mentioned perverts who've been bothering our heroine go to her house, barge in and proceed to gang rape her. The parents arrive home early and are both shot dead, as is Timmy when he threatens to go to the cops. As for Carla, they only think she's dead after she bashes her head on a table during a fall. To cover their tracks, they wipe the fingerprints off the gun and try to make the crime scene look like a murder / suicide. At first, their plan seems to work. When the police show up, they find the bodies, but Carla is catatonic and unable to help (or speak). 

Carla is taken to a mental hospital and finally snaps out of it when she overhears hysterical patient Jesse (Rosemarie Gil) carrying on about her revenge fantasies. She then starts sneaking out of the hospital to murder her attackers one by one and then sneaking back in and continuing to feign catatonia / muteness to cover her tracks. After two murders, she finally says screw it and just disappears from the hospital altogether while continuing to kill, leading to her eventually being hunted down Frankenstein-style by a mob of angry townspeople!

Rape-revenge isn't one of my favorite exploitation subgenres but this one's pretty entertaining as far as these things go. Due to the implausible nature of some of the earlier scenes, I wasn't quite prepared for the home invasion / rape / murder sequence when it finally did hit. It's serious, surprisingly believable, harrowing and well-performed and does a good job fueling the revenge portion of the film. As for the vengeance itself, we get a nice little variety of kills, ranging from someone being set ablaze after getting drenched in liquor to a castration (performed while naked, natch!) to someone getting mangled inside an ice crushing machine. The lively and gory finale set inside a butcher shop manages to incorporate a meat cleaver, an axe, a hook, a table saw and a shotgun, plus there's an arm mangled in a deli slicer, a head rammed through a glass deli case, eyes getting clawed out and even a head explosion.

Tranelli, best known for her long, semi-recurring stint playing a secretary on the nighttime soap Dallas, makes for an appealing lead so it's a shame this was her only feature film appearance. She even gets to sing the catchy / cheesy / very 80s theme song "Still Got a Love." This is also one of the better efforts that I've seen from the very prolific Santiago, who directed over 100 films, including the dreadful bloodsucker "comedy" VAMPIRE HOOKERS (1978), the dull sea creature-terrorizes-resort monster movie DEMON OF PARADISE (1987) and dozens of drive-in and direct-to-video action, war and post apocalyptic sci-fi flicks. The films I'm especially interested in are his early horror films from the late 50s through the 60s but those were never released in English and are difficult to find even in their original language.

Mostly filmed in the Philippines with bits shot in both Los Angeles and New York City, this was given a limited theatrical released by (uncredited executive producer) Roger Corman's Concorde Pictures. When originally released to home video by Lightning, both R and unrated versions were available and there was a run time discrepancy of nearly 20 minutes between the two different cuts! After spending a long time waiting in limbo, Scream Factory finally released the full version on Blu-ray in 2018. It's paired up with the women-in-prison film Vendetta (1986). As you can probably tell from my screen caps, I didn't get to see the Blu-ray but I did at least see the 97-minute uncut version.

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