Savage Streets is one of the last great Exploitation films of the Early-Mid 80’s filled with a lot of the stuff fans wanted to see with a touch of ugliness and the Punksploitation that was a part of the scene. Critics hated it, and even a few reviewers who were giving some good marks to B movies were not in favor, but there’s something about the film that makes fans return to it on occasion It’s a dark, and some could say cold, film that was seedy and not a pretty picture that had The 80’s dragged through a dark tunnel with hardly anything redeeming about it and it’s troubled production history adding onto things perfectly.
Linda Blair’s performance is sharp, although she did look more of a College age than the High School kid she was playing, Johnny Venocur had a great feature film debut as the troubled gang member, Scott Mayer’s only feature film roll as the Punk Rocker member of the gang showed a lot of promise before moving on in life to Northern California, and Robert Dryer’s gang leader could be called the West Coast version of Terry Hawkins (Roger Watkins’ legendary manic maniac character of Last House on dead End Street). Linnea Quiley was excellent as the deaf and mute sister of Blair who had a rape scene that’s possibly more shocking today and John Vernon was effective in his moments as the principal who was a bit sleazy – Blair and Vernon co-starred in Chained Heat, proving a great combination. A lot of critics may call the music bad, but then again the 80’s movie music was a seriously perfect fit with it’s electronic drums and dramatic singing, and it’s ugly turns in the story only added onto the grim feeling that never let up. It’s a sleaze pit that has it’s fans, including me.
In 1984, Savage Streets played a number of cities including Detroit in July where it possibly had it’s biggest success thanks to some record-breaking at the Bel Air Drive In mentioned in the Commentary by John Strong on the DVD – I remember watching the ad on WXON 20 during the video show simply called Hot as a kid and wanting to see it without any hope at all living in Small Dot with no theater for miles. The MPM release was very here-and-there including a New York City appearance that whipped up a couple of members in the audience enough to vow violence an any of the gang members (a story Venocur recalls very well in the commentary) and there were still areas to move into for it’s one or two week showings once 1985 rolled around, but sadly the monies it made possibly did not match the high expectations when it was released in a time when the market for Independent Exploitation was fading out after filming in 1983 when there was still something happening for the industry. In 1985, MPM went out of business although John Chambliss formed Film Concept Group to unleash films that looked like that they were picked up for MPM including Burial Ground and The Other Hell (theatrically played as Guardian of Hell), but Savage Streets had one more life of it’s own as it was headed to the video shelves.
5-10-85, from a Wilmington, Delaware paper
Right in the middle of the “We Are the World” era and just when things were turning into a Breakfast Club of Post-New Wave slickness in the US Pop Culture, Savage Streets played a few more cities which offered a little grimness to those noticing the change in pace who did not want the pastels and day glo while wanting to see what they wanted on the screen.
Entermark Releasing was more likely a company formed by Michael Franzese and John Chambliss in between MPM and FCG for the second run of Savage Streets which played through the Late Spring and Summer of 1985. The scene that was used in the ads was never in the film, but it still fit in it’s own way. Although Linda Blair was the definitive image to promote the film with, the artwork here is not that bad and it has legs…
5-10-85, Phoenix – Take note of Billy Fine in the credits. Fine was the original Producer who was originally in charge with Tom DeSimone directing before the first round of production stopped before things got back into order under John Strong.
5-24-85, Santa Cruz at the Del Mar
5-31-85, Titusville, Florida – Ironically enough, A View to a Kill was also the film on the other screen at the Del Mar in Santa Cruz!
5-31-85, San Bernardino
6-5-85, Louisville – Take note of the return to the font used in the MPM release in the credits with no mention of Fine.
6-24-85, Carbondale, Illinois with wonderful VHS memories here with the Vestron release of Savage Streets. Bad movie fans will love the Zombie Lake mention while 80’s film fans should connect with either the campy but enjoyable Tuff Turf and the classic Falcon and the Snowman.
7-23-85, from a Del Rio, TX paper…with another Care Bears mention!