Brenda (Linda Blair) is the leader of an all girl gang called The Satins. When a rival, all male, gang rapes her sister and kills her best friend, she takes the law in to her own hands and sets out on a revenge-fueled killing spree that won’t be over until she has her pound of flesh.
Savage Streets is co-written and directed by Danny Steinmann (Friday the 13th: A New Beginning), who passed away in 2012. Savage Streets is a much better effort than New Beginning and it makes me wish that Steinmann had continued to make movies beyond 1985.
Linda Blair is too good for words in this 1984 grindhouse classic. Her performance is way over the top but it’s the good kind of over the top. She plays a character that’s tough as nails; Brenda doesn’t get mad, she gets even. Her hair and wardrobe are spot on. The film’s costume design team and makeup artists hit the nail on the head.
Robert Dryer plays Jake, the rival gang leader, with an evil flare. Jake sports a razor blade earring and a psychotic scowl. He is just as over the top as Brenda and the pair plays opposite one another extremely well.
Savage Streets is more of a grindhouse-esque exploitation flick with horror overtones than a straight up horror film. The deaths are more brutal conceptually than they are in actuality. But there are definitely horror elements within the film. Brenda’s crossbow-aided killing spree is reminiscent of the revenge sequence in films like I Spit on Your Grave but without that same level of carnage.
The film has an awesome soundtrack full of amazing and catchy power ballads. John Farnham (who did several songs for the soundtrack to the awesome ‘80s BMX film Rad) performs virtually every song in Savage Streets and they are all very ’80s. The soundtrack is catchy and the songs serve to add fuel to the scenes they accompany.
It’s almost unfathomable how much nudity Savage Streets has in it: there is a shower scene with full frontal shots of at least half a dozen women, then Brenda rips off a classmate’s shirt before doing a topless bath scene; and that’s just scratching the surface.
There is so much dialogue that is completely politically incorrect by today’s standards in this movie. There are all sorts of off color remarks that were probably perfectly acceptable in 1984 that would likely never make it in to a film today. It would be offensive if the movie weren’t 30 years old but in light of that, one can kind of enjoy the crudeness of the film without feeling too badly.
My chief complaint about the film is that the pacing is a bit up and down for the first sixty minutes. While the film is building to a climax, it meanders a bit but the viewer is rewarded for their patience in the final act. The showdown between Brenda and Jake is epic in nature and makes up for any occasional missteps from the first hour of the film.
Savage Streets is a brutal, revenge-fueled good time. The revenge sequence is inspired, and Linda Blair is amazing; even the supporting cast is great. If you haven’t seen this often overlooked grindhouse classic, it is absolutely worth checking out. The 2-disc special edition DVD from BCI is out of print but it is my personal favorite release of the film in existence. The BCI version comes with several different versions of the cover art and a bonus disc full of special features. If you can find a used copy of this edition at a decent price, it’s well worth picking up. Otherwise, the Scorpion release is a good alternative and it is in print as of this posting.
Director(s): Danny Steinmann
Writer(s): Danny Steinmann Norman Yonemoto
Stars: Linda Blair, Linnea Quigley,
Studio/ Production Co: Ginso Investment Corp.
Budget: $1.2 Million
Length: 93 Minutes