Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Szurek Zone: A SCREAM IN THE STREETS (1973)

A SCREAM IN THE STREETS (a.k.a. GIRLS IN THE STREETS) is a wild & wooly exercise in the outrageous that comes to us courtesy of Harry Novak’s Box-Office International. Well, it certainly looks as if shot on a low budget with a Kodak Brownie, although most of the acting is more acceptable than usual for this kind of thing. And it is fun in a weird way. The film may not be great art, and much of it looks put together by sick but harmless minds; it’s a sleazeaholic’s must-see, and at times, one can’t help but wonder if anybody intended it to be taken seriously. It does exude raw energy, and I absolutely dare you to call it boring.

The ultimate in lowbrow approach is thrown up at us as the opening credits are read aloud by an off-screen announcer. We then enter into a yarn about an apparently non-gay transvestite (shown ONLY in drag) with an unbalanced mind who goes first on a rape spree, then graduates to a “kill for kicks” spree and finally to a “kill for necrophilic kicks” one. Intercut with this is a fragmented “spanking” scene having nothing whatsoever to do with the rest of the story, featuring characters who never appear before or after. It’s just thrown at us out of the blue! It’s also the most brutal (belt on bare ass), graphic, realistic screen spanking I’ve seen; the female victim is convincing, but doesn’t give the impression of having a good time, which makes me wonder if it was unsimulated or even expected and ad-libbed. The shocker comes when the viewer realizes that the unbilled “spanker” closely resembles the drag queen out of costume.

While the killer transvestite runs around committing dirty deeds, a couple of right-wing Dirty Harry clones who keep running into varied and sundry sex deviates, have a remarkable tendency to stumble on robberies and dope deals in progress quite by accident, NEVER take a prisoner alive, and show no qualms about their casual, trigger-happy law enforcement techniques. They run around trying to track the transvestite down while single-handedly verifying the worst “police brutality” reports. Although I doubt it was meant that way, this is one of the most anti-cop movies I’ve seen in ages and will hardly do anything positive for public relations. Like I said, it’s not great art, but the non-stop absurdity will blow your mind.


Arbogast said...

The ultimate in lowbrow approach is thrown up at us as the opening credits are read aloud by an off-screen announcer.

Oh, but when Francois Truffaut does it it's classy!

Marty McKee said...

AFAIK, I'm the only person who's ever said this, but I would bet anything that lead John Kirkpatric (who plays the married cop) is really familiar '70s TV guest star Joshua Bryant.

Arbogast said...

I've heard someone else say that. But it might have been you.

Anonymous said...

I saw some juicy inserts for this title when I was meddling around in Harry Novaks vault. Did the eventual DVD contain some borderline hardcore shots? A great twisted little film.

Temple of Schlock said...

Ant, the DVD version is definitely borderline hardcore. However, I'm pretty sure the VHS that Dave reviewed was the cut version; in the '80s a lot of the Novak movies were issued on videocassette in the U.S. as 2-on-1 tapes and some of the movies were heavily cut prints. As I recall CAGED VIRGINS (as DUNGEON OF TERROR) barely ran an hour.

Marty, I just saw Bryant in "Backlash of the Hunter" and you're right, he was probably swingin' under a pseudonym here.

Nick Cato said...

I rented this during the VHS days on a Harry Novack doubel-feature VHS. Still can't get enough if it!