Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"Bitch Slap" (2009)

Starring Julia Voth, Erin Cummings and America Olivo
Written by Eric Gruendemann and Rick Jacobson
Directed by Rick Jacobson

If I was still 12 years old, I might have come away thinking that "Bitch Slap" was one of the greatest things I have ever seen.  It's loaded from start to finish with half-naked women, outlandish violence and absurdly dirty and vulgar dialogue.  The whole thing plays like what a 12-year-old would write if someone handed him an assignment that had to include lost treasure, gangsters, spies, and no restrictions on pretty much anything else.

Then, of course, imagine that this 12-year-old was given a budget, a cast and a crew and told to make the damn movie.

Well, I'm pretty sure what would come out on the other end would look a lot like "Bitch Slap."

This, er, "movie" stars three very attractive women who drive out into the desert to claim a treasure - some $200 million in diamonds that was stolen by a gangster named Gage (Michael Hurst, remember him?).  Trixie (Julia Voth), a famous stripper, is nervous and clumsy.  Hel (Erin Cummings) is the brains of the operation.  Camero (America Olivo) is the borderline-psychotic muscle of the group.  Out in the desert, Camero tortures Gage into giving up the location of the loot before killing him, shocking Trixie and Hel.  This will form the beginning of the wedge that will eventually drive this trio apart as their quest to find the diamonds becomes complicated with jealousy, greed, and violence.

As they search the area, they must hide Gage's body from a local deputy (Ron Melendez) who stumbles across them, and protect themselves and the treasure from assassins sent by the mysterious "Pinky," from whom Gage stole the diamonds.  Along the way, we're also treated to a series of flashbacks (told in reverse order from end to beginning) to explain who everyone is, what their interest in the diamonds, and how they got to be where they end up.

Twists and turns unfold in the desert as Camero finds that Trixie and Hel are actually lovers.  This comes as a shock to Camero, since she thought she and Hel were in love.  Ruh-roh.  We also find out that these three women also have a history with each other that has been kept secret (and is utterly, utterly ridiculous).  Will they find the diamonds, or kill each other in jealous, spiteful rage?  Oooh, suspense.

"Bitch Slap" sucks.

I'm a big fan of the idea, of course.  "Bitch Slap" obviously wants to be a fun, irreverent homage to the exploitation films of yore, but it fails at being so for one huge reason: it's not actually any fun.  At an hour and forty-five minutes, "Bitch Slap" positively drags for long stretches of time.  I wonder if the director supposed that I wouldn't notice that nothing is happening just because there are so many barely-covered boobs all over the screen, or that each conversation goes round and round in circles just so they can fit in as many vulgar curses as possible.  There are occasional flashes of cleverness, like a scene featuring Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor (remember them? of course you do!) as nuns - one of whom is offended by Camero's overt lesbianism and the other totally hot for it.  The final fight sequence goes on too long and is a bit unimaginative, but well-staged and appropriately brutal.  The lesbian make-out scene between Trixie and Hel is mildly titillating as well.  The water bucket fight starts out hilarious, but then goes on forever and loses all its luster. 

But the problem is that for all its teasing, "Bitch Slap" doesn't really deliver.  It spends long stretches of time with the girls digging out in the desert insulting each other with the occasional distraction.  The flashback sequences are short and punchy, and provide some of the best laughs in the film, but they're so few and far between that they serve as oases of fun in a desert of boring.  The best one involves a Vegas casino called "The Glory Hole," an army of gun-toting strippers, Kevin Sorbo (yep, he's here too) and a random SWAT team.

I was hoping "Bitch Slap" would prove to be as entertaining as "Black Dynamite," since they share similar ambitions, but "Black Dynamite" is the superior film, hands down.  An hour and forty-five minutes of boobs and toned female abs and shapely legs sounds great... "Bitch Slap" is great to look at, but not any fun to watch.