Friday, August 26, 2011

Worth Mentioning - Just Ain't Healthy

We watch several movies a week. Every Friday, we'll talk a little about some of the movies we watched that we felt were Worth Mentioning.

This week, Cody digs on Switchblade Sisters and Monster Dog.


Switchblade Sisters is a girl gang story with shades of Othello, set in an unstated future year (so unstated that I only know this because of director Jack Hill's DVD audio commentary, which he did with Quentin Tarantino) where the cities are getting run down, the economy is bad and so are the kids, and everything pretty much looks like 1975.

Maggie is the new girl in town. When the Silver Dagger gang and its all-girl counterpart the Dagger Debs enter a diner and scare the customers out of the building, Maggie is the only one who stands her ground. Dagger Deb second-in-command Patch tries to show her the error of her ways, instead Maggie easily gets the upper hand. Debs leader Lace is impressed. She asks Maggie if she's in a gang and when Maggie replies that she's not, Lace informs her that everybody's gotta be in a gang, it just ain't healthy to lone it.

The police arrive and the girls are arrested, and once locked up Maggie and Lace again bond when the Debs help Maggie overcome lecherous headmistress Moms Smackley. Maggie is first to be released, so Lace has her deliver a letter to her boyfriend Dominic, leader of the Silver Daggers. The trouble begins here, as Maggie and Dominic end up having sex, a mutual attraction played out behind the facade of rape.

When Lace and the rest of the Debs get out, Maggie becomes their new recruit. But Patch finds out about Maggie and Dominic's affair and starts trying to stir up a confrontation between the girls.


A confrontation is also brewing between the Silver Daggers and their high school rivals led by Crabs, a "teenager" with thinning hair. Maggie is instrumental in plotting an ambush on Crabs's gang but things go very bad, resulting in a roller rink shootout.

The violence continues to escalate from there as betrayals and power shifts ensue.


The performances among the three lead girls are great - Joanne Nail is the beautiful and tough Maggie, Monica Gayle is the one-eyed Iago-esque Patch (an inspiration for Daryl Hannah's character in Tarantino's Kill Bill), and Robbie Lee as Lace is very cute and has an adorable voice, which she later put to use working on cartoons.

It's also worth noting that put-upon gang member Donut is played by Kitty Bruce, daughter of progressive comedian Lenny Bruce.

This is a really cool movie. Director Jack Hill was a master of the grindhouse, he made some great films in this era, for example Spider Baby and his Pam Grier collaborations, my personal favorite of those being Coffy. Switchblade Sisters ranks high among his best.

Thanks to Drive In-Mob for getting me around to watching it this week, they hosted a live Tweet Robbie Lee double feature of Switchblade Sisters and Big Bad Mama last night. I couldn't really participate due to other commitments (had to watch Big Brother on CBS) and technical difficulties (Netflix crapped out during Big Bad Mama), but I got a viewing in anyway.


Monster Dog comes from writer/director Clyde Anderson (a.k.a. Claudio Fragrasso, the man who brought us Troll 2) and stars rock god Alice Cooper as rock god Vincent Raven, who's returning to his childhood home after almost twenty years away, intending to shoot his new music video there. Vincent, his girlfriend, a small crew and his female co-star are getting there via road trip in a van with a carton of milk on the dashboard. Because you should never forget to take some dashboard milk on a road trip.

When they near their destination, the van is stopped by a police roadblock, set up because the town has recently been terrorized by a series of mad dog attacks. Yes, the police are stopping cars on the road and checking licenses because there's a pack of dogs on the loose...

Also before reaching the home, the group encounters a bloody old man, the standard horror movie doomsayer, who warns them "when the moon shines again, you will all die", the dogs will not spare them.

They arrive at the old home to find that it's seeminly been abandoned by its caretaker (we know that he ended up being dog chow). Vincent's co-star Angela senses that something is wrong and that night has a terrible nightmare involving the bloody old man, finding the corpses of her pals, and Vincent turning into a werewolf.

Vincent's girlfriend Sandra later finds him reading a book on werewolves, and he shares with her his horrible family secret - twenty years ago, his father was killed by an angry mob of townsfolk who accused him of being a werewolf/murderer, the perpetrator of a series of dog attacks like the current one. Vincent fears that werewolves may be real. Sandra rejects the idea as nonsense with no place in the modern world, "the year 2000 is just around the corner".

The video shoot commences, but is interrupted when the body of the caretaker comes crashing through a window. There is definitely something bad going on around here. Then a pack of local yokels on a dog hunt turn up at the house after cutting the phone line and things really get violent, as well as slightly lycanthropic.

I had seen this movie a couple times before and didn't like it. I recently revisited it during the third Netflix Instant Bad Movie Marathon (the second one introduced me to Duncan Jax and Boon the baboon last month) and during this viewing, I realized... I had gotten it all wrong. This movie is amazing.

It's crazy, it's hilarious, it may have more fog packed into it than any other movie I've ever seen. And as a bonus, we get bookend performances of the song "Identity Chrises" (misspelled and mispronounced) in its entirety. The movie starts with a Vincent Raven music video for the song and ends with the song playing over moments from the film.

Check it out, preferably with others in the mood for a little cheese.


  1. It's funny how movies such as Monster Dog can be seen completely different depending on the circumstances you watch them in. Got September's Bad Netflix all figured out. Will have the schedule posted soon.

  2. Good write-ups! Been reading a lot of reviews of Monster Dog lately, will have to watch it soon!

  3. The main thing that bugs me about "Monster Dog" is that Alice Cooper's speaking voice is dubbed by another actor. I guess they could more easily afford Coop's singing voice.