The opening credits sequence of this film is all about women wrestling with each other in films of yesteryear, while the credits themselves are sarcastic indicators of what's to come. The film then begins with a car roaring into a remote desert encampment, its engine and the pounding music battling for control of the soundtrack.
Three women emerge from the rattle-trap, one adorned in high heels and all in scanty clothes that cling to their bodies like sweat on a summer day. They survey a rusty trailer and gasoline cans that litter the hideaway. Then they pull a bound and wounded man from the car's trunk. They intend to make him give up the location of what they seek and don't mind using extreme pain in that quest. These three women are Camero (America Olivo), a pill-popping killer; Trixie (Julia Voth), an "angelic" stripper; and Hel (Erin Cummings), a mysterious underground op. Their captive is Gage (Michael Hurst).
The back story then unfolds in flashbacks to fill you in on the who's and why's behind everyone's presence in this godforsaken landscape. All the women have secrets, so betrayals cut back and forth as the trio fights one another and those who follow them into the hideaway. The latter includes a sheriff's deputy named Fuchs (Ron Melendez) and two psycho killers, a stud called Hot Wire (William Gregory Lee) and a Japanese hottie with a lethal yo-yo named Kinki (Minae Noji).
Co-written and produced by Rick Jacobson and Eric Gruendemann of TV"s Xena: Warrior Princess fame, it wants to be a throwback to the Russ Meyer-type sexploitation flicks of a gentler era. It"s a mash up of biker chick, chick in prison and other Grindhouse genres with lots of slow motion cleavage, girls in short skirts, girls kissing and girls fighting. The problem, however, is that it's as badly crafted as it is occasionally clever, a poor man's Sin City, with no real sense of how to walk the tightrope between well-executed irony and stupid, cornball homage. Delivered with tongue in cheek, there"s a gleeful stupidity to Bitch Slap that threatens to entertain at times, but it never goes far enough.
The actresses deliver highly sensual performances where every thought and desire gets communicated more through their body language than actual dialogue. Their stares, postures, movements, snarls, smacks, evasions and feral reactions convey whatever emotional inner life these absurd caricatures might possess.
The idea of the film isn"t a bad one. There is always room for some good old fashioned cinematic exploitation, but Bitch Slap never strikes the right balance. The filmmakers are never fully enough committed to their roots to pull it off convincingly. The end result ultimately is a total misfire.
Bitch Slap: A wannabe Tarantino flick!
Rating: 1.5 out of 5*
Starring: Julia Voth, Erin Cummings, America Olivo, Lucy Lawless, Ron Melendez, Kevin Sorbo and Zoe Bell
Director: Rick Jacobson