- Rev Horror
Streets of Vengeance
Dir. Paul Ragsdale and Angelica De Alba
A retiring porn star creates a band of bad-ass vigilantes to deal with the threat of a serial killer who kills women he views to be immoral.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
This is my second experience with A&P Production films, having just recently watched and reviewed Slashorette Party. While Slashorette paid loving homage to, well, slasher films, and some of the absurdity that is often found in those films, Streets of Vengeance is the filmmakers’ love letter to 80’s and 90’s action movies. The film opens with an excellent parody of the USA Network’s Up All Night, which showcased these types of film’s throughout the 90’s. The bikini-clad host introduces the film, and the audience is thrown headlong into a Miami Vice-styled film, filled with neon lights, a pulsing synth score, and the sort of ham-handed morality tale that one can expect from the mockbuster films of that unfortunately bygone era. While the action flicks of that time were a dime a dozen, and often have the same kind of ironic fanbases that shitty horror films are known for, parodies and tributes to these kinds of films, especially well-made ones like this, are hard to come by.
The film is about a serial killer who preys on pornstars that features short roles by Joanna Angel and Ginger Lynn as well as some great roles for newcomers like Delawna McKinney (who plays the lead role of Mila Lynn) and Anthony Iava To’omata (the man who is in love with her and joins her quest for vengeance). Streets of Vengeance has shades of Savage Streets with a tinge of Cobra (as well as countless other genre films of the period), but it has all of the self-awareness that those films sorely lacked. The whole ultra-violent 80’s action “thing” was silly but took itself way too seriously. Streets of Vengeance avoids that pitfall by utilizing its low budget and acting newcomers to attain the pastiche that it is searching for without sacrificing its own sense of style. There’s enough new here to appreciate, but there’s plenty of throwback to the films that came before as well. It’s a fun watch, and even though the film doesn’t move as quickly as it perhaps should, you never find yourself bored while waiting for the next action sequence.
The one criticism that I would have for the film, and one that I don’t think actually negatively reflects on the film (more on that in a minute), is that the heavy-handed social commentary comes across as a bit hypocritical. It’s a “rape revenge” movie without the actual rape, but it is essentially about MRA and incel types and the terror that they can inflict on the world. It’s also a critique of rape culture and the attitudes that are inundating some of the dregs of society. However, due to the extreme stereotypical portrayals of those from that subculture, and the brutal ways in which they are often dispatched, it comes across more as a “men bad, women good” than it does an honest look at an actual problem. However, you could also make the argument that the kind of oppressively extreme examples of that kind of thinking falls directly in line with the type of clumsy personifications that were endemic of the types of films that Streets of Vengeance parodies. You couldn’t just have a bad guy in those films, you had to have a dude who is basically a demon in human form. SoV takes this trope and extends it into the modern era, critiquing stupid internet culture with brutal scenes of violence.
The acting is adequate without ever being “good” per se, but it honestly doesn’t have to be good for this type of film. I can say without a doubt that, of all of the ridiculous action movies from the 80’s and 90’s that I’ve watched, I’ve seen maybe a handful of actually good performances from the actors involved. The movies are there for ridiculous fun, not for accurate social commentary or industry awards. They achieve these goals incredibly well: that’s why so many of those films have achieved the cult status that they have. Streets of Vengeance has that same feel to it, a movie that exists for nostalgia and pure enjoyment. If you’re watching the film to see if its creators should be walking the Academy stage to get their statuette, you’re in the wrong place. If you’re watching it to appreciate some mindlessly brutal violence with a fluorescent backdrop and New Wave soundtrack, Streets of Vengeance is a surprisingly good choice.
Who this movie is for: Indie lovers; 80’s action fans; Men’s Rights Activists looking for a reason to change
Bottom line: Backlit by neon lights and filled with loving memorials to genre films of the 80’s and 90’s, Streets of Vengeance is worth a watch for anyone who grew up with the late-night cable presentations of these films that you had to sneak when your parents were already in bed. It’s a fun film filled with kills without getting much gorier than its source material, but it contains enough of a new take that it surpasses many of those earlier films. The gore isn’t too much but is still present enough to matter, and it hits perfectly for the type of movie it’s in. It’s a competently made film and at least adequately acted, and it’s definitely a wild ride that’s worth taking.