Review: Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (1988)

Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #773

Number of Views: Two
Release Date: March 1988
Sub-Genre: Neo-Noir/Spoof
Country of Origin: United States
Budget: $50,000
Running Time: 75 minutes
Director: Fred Olen Ray
Producer: Fred Olen Ray
Screenplay: Fred Olen Ray, T.L. Lankford
Special Effects: Dawn Wildsmith
Cinematography: Scott Andrew Ressler
Score: Michael Perilstein
Editing: William Shaffer
Studios: American Independent Productions, Savage Cinema
Distributor: Camp Motion Pictures
Stars: Linnea Quigley, Gunnar Hansen, Jay Richardson, Dawn Wildsmith, Michelle Bauer, Esther Elise, Tricia Burns, Fox Harris, Jimmy Williams, Dukey Flyswatter, Dennis Mooney

Suggested Audio Jukebox ♫

[1] Kool & The Gang “Hollywood Swinging”

[2] Raymond Scott “Naked City”

[3] Mötley Crüe “Hell On High Heels”

Hollywood. Chainsaw. Hookers. Okay, you’ve twisted my arm, deal me in fellas. I mean, how could I possibly resist such a triple-pronged invitation to enjoy three of my favorite things in one fell swoop? Who’s directing? Fred Olen Ray you say? I know that cat, isn’t he the one that made Scalps, Biohazard and Armed Response? Let’s face it, he ain’t Kubrick, but then, who is? You had me at Hollywood as I’ve always been a sucker for La-La Land and hear it was robbed at the Oscars. Granted, some of those stuffy bigwig types can suck my lollipop and call me Lucien, but the general vibe I get from the place is reasonably kosher. Some folk are too hard on Hollywood if you ask me. They blame the entire neighborhood for a few bad eggs and smiling assassins, when we all need a little glitz and glamour in our lives and it provides that shit on tap.

Chainsaw? Well I guess that would depend on who’s wielding it and how much gas is left in the tank. Leatherface gave it quite a run out back in ’74 and I’m not altogether sure Gunnar Hansen topped up the juice you know. I’ll never turn my nose up at a good old-fashioned chainsaw massacre and the word on the street has it that Hansen has even had the good manners to deliver it to the set personally. I wonder if he’ll be the one revving it up. Not that it matters, his presence alone will be enough and I’m sure he’ll find someone more than capable to deputize. Speaking of which, did somebody mention something about hookers?

Correctamundo and that’s box number three ticked as far as I’m concerned. Let’s face it, getting paid to have sex sure beats sitting at a desk for eight hours, five days a week, pretending to look busy. Better yet, given that we’re talking about west coast hookers here, I’d imagine it pays better too. Maybe I’m just easily pleased, but this Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers number is starting to sound suspiciously like a good time to me. So why then has it taken me almost thirty years to break the seal on this baby and take it for a ride? That’s easy, it has taken that long for anyone to say a kind word about it. Now I’m not suggesting for a second that I believed the hype as I’ve always been one for making my own mind up and some of my all-time favorite movies are widely regarded as duds. However, for some bizarre reason, it just never appealed. Go figure.

I would imagine it has something to do with the fact that I never really had a great deal of time for horror and comedy when parading together. More often than not, the humor is far too broad, and of the lowest common denominator. While not averse to slumming it on occasion, movies that employ this double-pronged tactic are required to work harder to earn my affection. Personal preferences aside, by the time Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers arrived on the scene at the ass-end of the eighties, the horror scene was beginning to run frightfully short on steam. Thus it never actually made it to my local video store. Had things been different, then the name Linnea Quigley on the sleeve alone would have been more than sufficient to secure an overnight rental and my poor mother would likely have had a hell of a time tracking down my right gym sock the following morning. Instead, I’ve found myself playing woefully overdue catch up.

Any film with a name like Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers finds itself at a distinct advantage from the get-go as it has three opportunities to do precisely what it states on the tin. To be fair, it comes good on at least two counts and, given that it was very much shot in Tinseltown (if only on the recycled sets of House II: The Second Story and Vamp and very much on the fly), you could say that Olen Ray achieved a clean sweep. That said, perhaps the film’s chief selling point isn’t even mentioned in the title.

You see, one of the genres it looks to send up (and does so surprisingly well) is forties film noir. We’re talking world-weary, cynical private eye, hunched over his typewriter with a tumbler of scotch in one hand and Lucky Strike in the other, while his internal monologue brings us up to speed. Please allow me to provide you my take on how that one-way dialogue would play out.

It all starts at The Red Parrot around midnight. These things normally do. Her name is Kitty Lorenzo and this canary is one hell of a songbird. She has some lungs, I’ll give her that. After I ply her with the third shot of giggle juice in short succession, the canary soon turns into a stool-pigeon and I don’t even have to put the screws on. After the third chirp, I’ve heard enough and tell Miss Lorenzo to shut her yap as I’ve got what I’d come for. For a split-second, I consider dropping a dime to the boys at the clubhouse but then I remember. You get there fast and you get there alone – or you got yourself a trip for biscuits. This dame’s got me right behind the eight-ball. The way I see it, this could end one of two ways. Either I make a clean sneak and end up twenty large to the good. Or I run into O’Malley’s chopper squad and the lads tuck me in for the big sleep all cozy. And I know exactly which one it’s gonna be.

Bamboozled yet? One man who certainly gets the crack is world-weary, cynical private dick Jack Chandler, although he appears to have himself a full case load. According to Jack, you could knock him over with a pubic hair right now, and I think I might love him already just for that statement alone. What he’s saying, in his wonderfully Jack Chandler way, is that it’s been quite an evening thus far and all signs point to plenty more strife on the horizon.

You see, Jack has been hired to track down a runaway teen by the name of Samantha and, while that part didn’t actually cause too much of a headache, getting her back in less than a dozen pieces is proving a darned sight tougher than anticipated. Call it a death wish but Jack would no doubt prefer the term babysitting. However, he’s right about one thing. She does have a great set of tits.

Snap out of it son. No pressure but there’s a satanic cult out there masquerading as hookers and their deity has 1000 gnashing alloy teeth and sleeps with a Jerry can. And remember, don’t be enticed by Mercedes as the last barfly that made that critical error wound up in the chop shop. The dame’s rotten to the pulpy core and in this right up to her tittie tassels. However, it’s the guy with the beard you really have to look out for.

I believe he answers to The Stranger although only by manner of grunt. Get close enough and you may just solve the case. The only snag is that any recitals will be of the Bond villain variety and require a laser pen or C4 cough candy to wriggle out of. So whatcha gonna do Jack? Are Samantha’s tits really that magnificent to risk your bacon for?

Of course they are as 75 minutes is flying past like snot on a bobsled and there’s precious little time for procrastination. Olen Ray is aware he needs to deliver on three counts and also of his most prized assets. I’m referring, of course, to her horror highness Quigley and the impossibly siren-like Michelle Bauer, bare of bosom and areola to areola for the ultimate in unlicensed ultra-vixen hardware duel, better known as The Virgin Dance of the Double Chainsaws.

It’s during this short and salacious skirmish that Olen Ray hits pay-dirt on his outrageous claim. However, it’s a surprisingly snazzy screenplay from the man himself and partner in crime T.L. Lankford that marks the X spot and elevates Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers above the rest of the trailer trash.

Quigley and Jay Richardson share a wonderfully off-kilter chemistry and keep us invested when it appears as though the story is running out of steam. However, the real revelation here is Kim Cattrall lookalike Bauer and every second she graces the screen is simply a joy to behold. I’m not convinced I’ve ever known another actress quite so dabhanded at being facetious whilst completely in the buff and she happens to rev a mean chainsaw too, which explains why it was her selected to adorn the cover art on this occasion and not the number one B-movie scream queen herself.

Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers is undeniably dumb and watching it frequently is likely to result in shedding I.Q. points at a faster rate than you could ever hope to replenish them. That said, for a movie that was shot on a shoestring in little over five days that comprises almost entirely of single takes, it’s far better than it has any right to be and, at a lean 75 minutes, is rarely in any danger of outstaying its welcome. I highly doubt that Olen Ray will see his name emblazoned across a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in his lifetime, but if I ever make it to Tinseltown, I’m scrawling that shit on a restroom wall with permanent marker dagnabbit. Film is a wondrous media with the ability to both inform and enlighten. This does neither, but as our humble narrator would say, it does have a great set of tits.

Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 7/10

Grue Factor: 2/5

For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: This one is all about the arterial spray and any blood spatter is the result of styrofoam cups full of corn syrup and food dye being tossed into the arena by the crew willy-nilly as the budget didn’t stretch as far as prosthetics. Aside from a single fleeting penetration, all we get is the odd lopped off limb from the local novelty store but, with bare breasts bouncing about pretty much everywhere we look, a dash of splash is all it takes. Meanwhile, the sight of Quigley and Bauer locking perky pink horns amidst sparks and billowing smoke is worth the price of a Blu-Ray all on its own. Rumor has it there are six million ways to die and, after watching The Virgin Dance of the Double Chainsaws, I now feel equipped to choose one. 

Read Frankenhooker Appraisal
Read Night of The Demons (1988) Appraisal
Read The Return of The Living Dead Appraisal
Read Dreaming Purple Neon Appraisal

Richard Charles Stevens

Keeper of The Crimson Quill

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