Reviews

Great Hollywood Rape Slaughter, The (1974)

Well, it’s not that great.

The Great Hollywood Rape Slaughter opens with a movie-within-a-movie that resembles the movie-within-a-movie from A Clockwork Orange — the one that “reforms” Alex by forcing him to watch scenes of sex and violence. Here, there’s a gunfight on a pier, a woman getting beaten by fat man who is wearing lingerie, and some sex on a dirty cot courtesy 1970s porn stars Rene Bond and Ric Lutze. There’s also a drum solo. Clearly, these elements encourage high expectation. But that’s only half the problem.

Steve is a film student with a bigger nose than Pete Townsend. He wants to make it in Hollywood. So Steve drives around Los Angeles and somehow ends up at the offices of a Harry Novak-esque exploitation producer. Steve agrees to direct a few porno films if it will give him the opportunity to shoot his own script, which he’s been “working on for years.” For the next 50 minutes, we see more movie-within-a-movie porn films, a sexist film director (“You hallucinogenic slut!”), people talking about limp penises, cars driving around, monologues on life and sex, and yes, a falling in love montage flashback. With bicycles. Thankfully, things pick up when Steve’s girlfriend pukes in a toilet. Steve demands his script back from the producer! The producer beats the shit out of him! There’s a scene from Steve’s new movie, which is a Billy Jack rip-off. Steve smiles at us.

Like Stick It In Your Ear, The Great Hollywood Rape Slaughter has a lot in common with the later Last House On Dead End Street. Swap out LHODES‘s horror for this film’s sex and they’re almost identical in terms of plot, sleaze, and subversiveness. But LHODES offered something concrete and disturbing to engage us. Great Hollywood doesn’t. That’s mostly because the film’s two best assets, the intro montage and the brief Billy Jack outro, bookend a collage. A boring collage. We get our hopes up, we get let down, we get our hopes up again. Then it’s over.

Technically, Great Hollywood is all over the place. The crudeness and 60 minute runtime suggest that hardcore scenes were excised. Random footage appears (a rat scurrying through a casting agent’s office, shots of Hollywood sex shop exteriors). Scenes cut off abruptly. Music jumps from ballads that sound like Cat Stevens on his worst day (i.e. every day) to electric organ noise. This loose ineptitude can only go so far, especially if there’s no substance to complement it. The same thing happened in Jean-Luc Godard’s 2 Or 3 Things I Know About Her. Great Hollywood isn’t from the same universe as 2 Or 3. But they work the same way — a badass title yields an annoying series of vignettes that ask the audience to do a ton of work without much payoff. Watching this movie is like straining to find highlights from an unfinished project that had very few highlights to begin with.

At one point, a film crew is shooting a sex scene on a bed. Just out of their frame, an actress is lying on the bed next to the people having sex. She’s eating a bag of M&M’S. She’s also bored. That made me laugh. There was a duality to it, one of the only times that the film’s meta-commentary on porn filmmaking felt believable. If there were more moments like that, The Great Hollywood Rape Slaughter would be something special. As-is, it’s many rape-slaughters short of earning its title.

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