1/4/07

622 Angel’s Revenge

(1980, Action-Adventure, color)

This is offending one-celled animals.

Rating: ***1/2

In a nutshell:

Buxom airhead vigilantes slaughter redneck drug dealers.

Summary:

Revenge for what, exactly?Six supermodels in low cut jumpsuits gather in plain sight of a drug processing plant to plan their attack. The leggy blond climbs a tower and wrestles a scruffy beatnik, while the saucy Latina hobbles down to the gate. Rather than wonder why a supermodel would be hiking alone in the middle of nowhere in a strapless evening gown and brass knuckles, the brain-damaged redneck guards give her their full attention while the pert brunette and the diminutive Asian cut through the barbed wire perimeter and climb to the roof of the main building.

Having knifed the beatnik to death, the leggy blond returns and jumps into an armored van with the petite blond. They crash through the gates and start gunning people down, followed by the spider-thin African-American on a souped-up dirt bike. The Asian and the brunette drop a bomb down a chimney and jump onto the roof of the van. The scene freezes with the brunette in midair. She begins to narrate.

In the recent past, a greasy kid smashes a beer bottle over the head of a greasy pusher named Sticks. Sticks passes out at the sight of his own blood and wakes up a few minutes later to find his money and merchandise gone. He calls local drug distribution supervisor Farrell (Jack Palance) to help him give chase. They catch the kid and beat him up, taking back the drugs and money.

The kid’s guardian turns out to be a “famous” disco singer, the leggy blond Michelle. She sings of her shining love every night in Vegas, but rushes home to be at her nephew’s side as soon as she hears about his beating. She meets his pert brunette teacher, April, who has somehow discovered the location and layout of a drug processing plant. Rather than convey this valuable information to the DEA, she wants to assemble a crack team of top-heavy women to go commando (in more ways than one) and help her blow it up.

Michelle agrees to finance April’s scheme, and together they recruit spider-thin stunt rider Terry, diminutive martial arts instructor Kako, and saucy Latina model Maria. Maria recommends her petite blond vigilante cop friend Elaine to help them plan, and April’s snooping jailbait student Trish rounds out the team.

They prepare for the raid by purchasing a van from a greasy used car dealer (Pat Buttram) and stealing weapons from an inept cadre of right-wing survivalists (headed by Jim Backus). They train themselves to fight and shoot, but they’re not ready in time to stop the next shipment of drugs from leaving the processing plant. Unwilling to let those drugs reach the streets, they kidnap Sticks and slash his manhood with a katana until he tells them where to intercept the illicit merchandise. This leads to a bikini-clad brawl with drug deliverymen on an intermittently foggy beach. They leave the injured bad guys and the drug shipment for the police. Sticks is released and quickly killed by Farrell.

This gets us back to the sequence at the beginning of the film. Thankfully we don’t have to watch the raid on the processing plant again, though we do get to see the place explode multiple times while they use their rear-mounted bazooka on a pursuing station wagon. Later, they celebrate by frolicking in bathing suits near a secluded waterfall.

Meanwhile, Farrell is in trouble with his boss Burke (Peter Lawford) over the loss of the drugs and the processing plant. They discover the discarded wire cutters with April’s fingerprints and abduct her back to Burke’s hilltop mansion. Fortunately, Trish has hitched a ride on the back of Farrell’s car and called in the rest of the squad. Bullets and motorcycles fly while they rescue April, eviscerate guards, and feed Farrell to a hungry Doberman. Burke tries to take April hostage, but the wounded Trish finishes him off from across the pool. The other women hurry to her side to congratulate her on her first kill.

Introduction:

...and THAT'S why we're dressed as seventies relief pitchers.Crow announces that he has amnesia, proving his point with an accurate list of everything he can’t remember. He recalls how he recovered the last time he had amnesia and asks Mike to hit him with a clown hammer. Mike does so, and Crow remembers that he doesn’t have amnesia after all—he has Ambrosia. He starts to sing, “Make a wish, baby.” Mike tries to hit him harder.

Host Segment One:

TV’s Frank and Dr. Forrester have dressed as their favorite seventies relief pitchers, Tug McGraw and Rollie Fingers, respectively. Ratings are down, so they’ve spiked the Satellite’s drinking supply with a drug that will turn Mike and the ‘Bots into the cast of the TV adventure series, Renegade. Mike scoffs even as his hair and stubble grow while he strides his motorcycle. Tom and Crow experience similar costume changes. It wears off fairly quickly, and Crow says, “Did I just turn into your wily Winnebago-driving Native American buddy and back again?” Frank tries to salvage their ratings by doing his Tug McGraw impression. Quoth he, “I’m Tug McGraw.”

Host Segment Two:

Crow has reworked his script for Earth vs. Soup as a Blaxploitation film called Chocolate Jones and the Temple of Funk. Each of them will have to read a number of roles—Tom’s list includes Chocolate Jones, Sugar Fly McQueen, and Sweet Mama Stringbean of the Boutique d’Bootée. All Gypsy’s characters wear slinky dresses and hold guns, but none of them have lines. Mike declines to participate, citing his general lack of funkiness. Gypsy and Tom beg off as well. Crow doesn’t seem to notice.

Host Segment Three:

Mike does his Henry Winkler impression (Eeeeyyyyy!). Tom and Crow drag in a cannon and destroy him.

Host Segment Four:

Aaron Spelling’s house drifts past. Its gravity shakes the Satellite of Love while Mike and the ‘Bots look on in awe.

Host Segment Five:

Tom has invented the Shame-O-Meter to measure the shamefulness of each guest appearance in tiny units of shame called Lawfords. Pat Buttram’s performance is in the kiloLawfords, while Jim Backus rates well into the megaLawford range. The Mads call up, dressed as tennis legends Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King, nearly breaking the Shame-O-Meter with several gigaLawfords of shame. Frank/Bobby Riggs beans Dr. Forrester/Billie Jean King with a tennis ball, causing him/her to collapse on the button.

Stinger:

The leggy blond shines her love in Vegas.

Thoughts:

The apogee of shined love.Say what you will about the lascivious oeuvre of Aaron Spelling, he knows how to make salacious trash. Angel’s Revenge auteur Greydon Clark, on the other hand, does not. With this movie, he’s clearly trying to ape Spelling’s popular Charlie’s Angels, but the end result lacks that series’ glitzy polish.

Angel’s Revenge is nowhere near as licentious as it wants to be. While it is inherently bawdy to feature a lot of well-built women wearing next to nothing, the implied debauchery drowns in the ladies’ stunningly bad acting and trite dialogue. The cringe-inducing guest performances take the murdered “mood” and drive a stake through its heart, fill its mouth with garlic, and bury it in consecrated soil. Arthur Godfrey, Alan Hale Jr., Pat Buttram, Jim Backus, Jack Palance, and Peter Lawford all have at least a fair amount of talent and deserve better than to be in this film. Greydon Clark deserves—and has made—worse.

Not that it’s totally unwatchable. Despite the ostensibly anti-drug message, its lovely stars continuously wander in a vacuous haze, as if they’ve been huffing their own hair care products. They’re helpless as baby birds, surviving only because their enemies seem to have been dredged from the most extreme of inbred trailer park stereotypes. The good-natured absurdity of it all manages a certain goofy, inept charm that made me smile in spite of myself. I guess that makes this Greydon Clark’s best film (at least, of the ones I’ve seen). His grating Joe Don Baker vehicle Final Justice will be featured in MST3K Episode 1008.

I can’t really explain the Mads’ seventies sports figure costumes. Neither can they, but the costumes are funny regardless. The Fonzie impression and the passage of Aaron Spelling’s house are both short, but functional. Tom’s Shame-O-Meter is actually a pretty good idea. There’s plenty of shame floating to be found in any film featured on MST3K; I wonder why they didn’t use it in subsequent shows. Crow’s amnesia and his Blaxploitation script are some of my favorite host segments in the run of the show. I think I’m going to start calling my wife “Sweet Mama Stringbean,” and have her address me as “Sugar Fly McQueen.”

The film segments are great. Faced with half-a-dozen well-endowed women jiggling through the drug processing plant, Crow says, “I’m giving up and looking at the breasts.” While the Laurel-and-Hardy-esque survivalists stumble around their compound, Tom says, “These survivalists couldn’t survive a grape embargo.” During the bikini beach fight, Mike notes, “Benny Hill is smiling down from heaven.” Brash, goofy films like this one lend themselves to the MST3K brand of mockery, and the satellite crew commentary manages to hit just the right notes. It’s a very funny episode.