Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers
Some movies are about Hollywood, some feature chainsaws, and others include hookers. One movie, however, had the audacity to combine all three. Yes, I'm talking about Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers.
In 1988, legendary schlockmeister Fred Olen Ray unleashed what is now considered one of the era's great cult classics on an unsuspecting world. Back in the day, if you were looking for excessive amounts of blood and breasts mixed with smart and subversive humor, and a cast full of B-movie royalty, then Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers was the film for you. Untold numbers of miscreant youths saw that title screaming out to them, like a beacon, in their local video stores, and felt compelled to rent it on the spot, and then over and over thereafter, for good measure. The title told us exactly what we were in for: hookers killing a bunch of highly unlikable and horny men they pick up in bars with - you guessed it - chainsaws.
The cast includes a stellar collection of cult legends. Besides B-movie queens like Linnea Quigley as teen-runaway-turned-undercover-hooker Samantha, and Michelle Bauer as the chainsaw-wielding hooker, Elvis fanatic, and master of the double entendre Mercedes, the film also stars Texas Chainsaw Massacre's own Leatherface, Gunnar Hansen. He plays - wait for it - the high priest of the film's chainsaw worshiping cult of hookers, making for a lovingly meta-tribute to the man who first made chainsaws one of the most iconic murder weapons in horror cinema. Strong-chinned, chain-smoking, and wisecracking Jay Richardson is the ostensible lead, and his character, private dick Jack Chandler, is a fun and satirical send-up of the classic pulp noir detective. And don't think the film doesn't gleefully use the "private dick" joke to death, because it most certainly does.
As Samantha, Linnea Quigley is her usual exceptional self, doing what she does better than anyone in movies like this, namely doing something resembling dancing that's weirdly hypnotic (twice!), dishing out her patented tough talk, and generally being an assertive woman of action. Her pint-size sexiness has rarely been used better. Samantha's first appearance is a show-stopping striptease that leaves Richardson's private dick slack-jawed and practically drooling. She somehow makes a micro-miniskirt, frilly ankle socks, and heels look both trashy and sophisticated. Later on, and while practically naked except for a thong and some strategically placed tribal body paint, she performs what I can only assume is the first and last "virgin dance of the double chainsaws" ever captured on film. Which is funny, because Samantha is most definitely not a virgin. Quigley is "America's Scream Queen," and Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers is one of her greatest performances.
But Michelle Bauer might actually be the MVP of Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers. As the unhinged sexpot Mercedes, she also does what she does better than anyone in B-movies of that era, which is to say she brings the heat - and the comedy. She was once aptly described as, "the bee's knees when it comes to being facetious while naked and crazy," and truer words have never been written. This is one of her most salaciously hilarious performances, which is impressive when you consider her career. She gets many of the best lines in the movie, most of which you wouldn't want to repeat in polite company. Even rare lines that aren't innuendo-laden still sound dirty and sleazy thanks to Bauer's breathlessly suggestive delivery. Bauer hits just the right notes in a brilliant performance that's equal parts silly, sexy, and scary.
I first saw Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers as a teenager, and that's when Bauer taught me what "TFC" stands for (consider the movie's content and you can probably figure it out). Back then, the movie right proper blew my young mind, and a recent re-watch proved it's aged beautifully, like a vintage bottle of Boone's Farm. From what I know now of 1980s Hollywood, it's satirical take-down of it seems just right. The premise of killer hookers dismembering creepy johns (who you get the impression deserve grisly deaths) with maniacal enthusiasm as a sacrifice to the chainsaw gods is absurdly fantastic. It's sleazy people doing sleazy things in sleazy bars and sleazy motels. In other words, a true exploitation classic.
In honor of our hero Joe Bob Briggs, let's end this recap with my attempt at some Drive-In Totals for Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers:
I tried but there are just too many breasts to count
Baseball bat fu
Ten gallons of blood
Sleazy photographer nerd
Creepy bartender nerd
And a whole bunch of other NSFW stuff
The movie's last words belong to Jack's inner monologue, as he marvels at Samantha's "great set of tits," and that feels like a fitting sendoff for a movie called Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers. If you want to shock and horrify the more delicate souls in your life, just casually toss off the name of this movie in conversation and enjoy the fallout. Landmark work, all around. Five stars. Check it out.