Running Time: 105 minutes
MPAA Rating: R
Format: Widescreen 1.66:1
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono
Languages: English
Subtitles: None
Region: 1
MSRP: $24.95

Own It!
Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (1988)

Films that try to be purposely campy seldom work. That’s because bad acting and dialog and such are funnier when they are unintentional. I think the best shot you’d have at this would be to emulate Mel Brooks’ The Producers and hire really untalented people to do your movie, all while encouraging them that they’re doing a great job.

Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, made by skid-row exploitation mainstay Fred Olen Ray, is the exceedingly rare exception to the above rule. I guess anyone who makes as many movies as he does is going to luck out at least once. Here the film works because Ray knows what his audience wants and doesn’t stint on the nudity and violence, which are omnipresent. Despite this, though, the film remains oddly innocent. While the T&A is manifold, there’s zero actual sexual content, and the violence is so extreme as to be comical. When a chainsaw bites into a victim, you can all but see the stagehands who are tossing buckets of fake blood onto the (usually nude) perpetrator.

Even rarer for a film of this ilk, it’s actually funny. I’m not saying it’s Blazing Saddles or anything, but a number of the gags are of a laugh out loud quality. The chainsaw scenes alone are a hoot. Meanwhile, exploitation viewers are certain to enjoy the constant nudity on display, especially from the two hottest scream queens of the ‘80s, Michelle McLellan (aka the delectable Michelle Bauer) and the one and only Linnea Quigley, who performs a chainsaw dance whilst clad only in a layer of body paint. Additional humor, meanwhile, is provided by cinematic chainsaw veteran Gunnar Hansen(!).

For a feature shot on video for $50,000 in five days, this looks about as good as you could expect. It’s a little soft, but all together more than adequate. It’s not like there are gorgeous cinematic vistas on display here (other than McLellan’s and Quigley’s, anyway). The Dolby mono sound is clean and fairly crisp.

Ray has apparently started his own DVD company, Retromedia. It’s apparent that he’s trying to turn it into a ‘house’ brand, as Full Moon Entertainment did with their home videos. Therefore Ray appears in bookend segments meant to be watched before and after the film itself. In the first he takes us on a tour of his house. Sights include a couple of mostly naked women playing Twister in this living room. We also meet his buxom wife Kim.

Another bit talks about the mail-in card that comes with your disc. You can send it to Ray for free junk, or save four of them up and try to get a free animation stiff from Evil Toons.

Trailers include that for the main feature as well as for the inept looking actioner Fatal Justice (with Joe Estevez!) and the silly looking but nudity filled ‘erotic’ thriller Angel Eyes (with John Phillip Law and Erik Estrada!!). They look pretty bad/funny and are — surprise — available on disc from Retromedia.

Finally there’s a quite extensive twenty-three minute short on the making of the film, composed of interview segments with Ray, McLellan/Bauer and Quigley. Many of their tales are funny, some are instructive, and a few scary. For instance, Quigley had to stand in a casket with two running chainsaws in preparation for her dance scene. While the blades had been removed, she was nearly asphyxiated by the gasoline exhaust fumes. Quigley also notes that her nude chainsaw dance has been shown on a number of regular TV shows, since they thought her body paint was clothes. I can confirm this, because I saw the bit on Entertainment Tonight or something one time and about fell over.

Ken Begg, 10/3/2001