Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (1988)

Sometimes I question whether a movie like Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers really needs a review.  It's a Fred Olen Ray film, which means expectations are quite low even if this happens to be the best Fred Olen Ray film in his long career.  A title like this is going to get watched by the people it is intended for., and i    t's not something that is going to be set up for viewing during an overnighter with the church youth group.  

Ray can't help but do some cinematic mugging in about every shot in the movie.  At the heart it's a comedy, making fun of both outrageous horror and exploitation films while also riffing on 1940s film noire.  It works occasionally, but the ultra-cheap production values and the disappointment when it comes to showing the actual chainsaws in action - save for Linnea Quigley's dance toward the end - is quite palpable. 

Jack Chandler (John Henry Richardson) is a private eye in Los Angeles, and he is currently on a case to find a missing teenager named Samantha (Quigley) from Oxnard.  Upon investigating he finds that the police may have someone in custody that fits her description.  He visits Police Chief Harrison (Dennis T. Mooney), but the girl they have isn't her.  However, she is a prostitute who cut up her john with a chainsaw.

Clues lead to a place called the West Side Bar, which has been visited by a number of men recently found dismembered.  Seeking a woman named Mercedes (Michelle Bauer), he soon finds out that Samantha has fallen in with a group of prostitutes led by the Master (Gunnar Hansen) who are in a cult that worships ancient Egyptian gods and their use of the chainsaw in human sacrifice.  Jack must save Samantha, and himself, while bringing down the evil cult.

Despite the lurid title everything is a bit corny and fun.  There is a good line of dialog explaining why ancient Egyptian gods would be using chainsaws, and Michelle Bauer does a nice job of showing all she has - both in acting and other ways - as the second in command of the cult.  Gunnar Hansen looks imposing, but unfortunately he was a better stuntman than actor, as the Stranger (as the Master is billed in the credits) ceases to be intimidating once Hansen starts to speak.  Linnea Quigley, as usual, is game for just about anything and seems to be truly enjoying herself here, although the question about Samantha's age is a bit troubling even if she claims to be 21.

This does have a great opening, which I wish the rest of the movie could have kept up with, but as soon as we see the first victim with someone (it turns out to be Ray) obviously throwing fake body parts and squirting fake blood off screen it just goes from silly to dumb.  Too bad because Bauer, like Quigley, seems to enjoy her role, but even she looks bemused at the attempts to get around special effects.  Many of the goofier bits of comedy don't help, especially since at times it feels more like a softcore porn parody than a real film. 

The result is a bunch of jokes falling flat, a bunch of kills falling flat, and the only redeeming quality of the whole film being the nudity, of which there is copious amounts.  Since it's the usual band of scream queens from the era that's not a bad thing, and Linnea Quigley in body paint dancing with two chainsaws is interesting, even if it looks a bit awkward.  

Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (1988)
Time: 75 minutes
Starring: John Henry Richardson, Linnea Quigley, Michelle Bauer, Dennis Mooney, Gunnar Hansen
Director: Fred Olen Ray



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