Brenda is the leader of a pack of young girls in her town who spend their free time making trouble and raising hell. When they cross a male gang while partying and decide to wreck their car, they strike at Brenda by raping and violating her sister, Heather. Out of spite, they also murder her best friend. Having had enough, Brenda unleashes street justice on the bastards, with a slew of weapons, including her crossbow, switch blade and her street know how. Sure, Sure, Linda Blair. “The Exorcist” is a family drama, not a horror movie. No, we believe you. And “Repossessed” was a relevant Mel Brooks throwback. And “Chained Heat” was an indictment on the prison system. And “Savage Streets”? An honest look at the peril of American youths! What? Just because “The Exorcist” is my favorite horror film ever made doesn’t mean I’m at all bitter.
In either case, if you’re one of the few people that wondered what became of Linda Blair after “The Exorcist,” you’d be surprised to know that Blair became a B movie actress, and a bonafide grindhouse goddess. Once Blair went from adorable young kid to legitimately legal, Blair was a busty bombshell who could really dominate the screen with her curves and her fierce performances. Not to mention whenever she was on-screen, her gorgeous breasts seemed to act independently from Blair’s body. It’s shocking how much Blair’s bust seems to be their own character in “Savage Streets” as well as other noted films of hers like “Chained Heat.” Not that it’s much of a revelation, I mean I’m sure everyone seemed to notice this increase in bust size around “The Exorcist II: Heretic.” It just didn’t become kosher to point it out and enjoy it until Linda Blair began shedding her clothing and bathing with other women in grade A grindhouse fare. Her yaboes were only rivaled by the great Pam Grier. But enough about breasts for a while,
I digress. “Savage Streets” is that great youth gone wild film that would have been filmed in the fifties with a disclaimer in the finale, except it goes whole hog in to the dramatic revenge tale rather than calling attention to its ludicrous trappings. The film is inherently goofy, but you just have to love how Linda Blair takes charge in the finale.
Blair works very hard to own the role of Brenda, the alpha female of her school who runs a gang and gets in to spontaneous fights in the school showers in the near nude. Blair, with her cherubic face and warm smile struggles to convince audiences she’s this hard boiled no nonsense female hood, and likely spent hours in front of a mirror practicing her scowls and holding her cigarettes. But god help her, she just can’t pull it off. Granted, the woman is gorgeous, but not quite the street wise chick who leads a pack of young girls in to trouble and mayhem. Compared to the more realistic femme fatales in “The Switchblade Sisters,” Blair and co. are somewhat laughable. Her only salvation is her younger sister Heather, an innocent mute teenager who follows Brenda on her overnight adventures cruising stores and breaking laws.
Heather is played by the gorgeous Linnea Quigley in one of her earliest roles, where she is pretty much propped to be an angelic young girl who keeps Brenda from going over the edge in to full on criminal mode. Imagine the switch when Quigley would play the iconic punk goddess Trash in “Return of the Living Dead” years later. After crossing a group of guys in town by hijacking their ride and trashing it, they seek revenge by gang raping Heather in the lockers. Brenda of course was too wrapped up in a shower fight to notice her sister being tortured and sexually violated the entire time. And Heather is a mute, so she very well couldn’t scream for help. Angered and enraged, Brenda sets out on a path of violence, systematically eliminating the men that took her sister’s life, while the men retaliate by murdering Brenda’s friend. All of which culminates in a final showdown between Brenda–in full black leather regalia–and leader of the male gang that almost seems to be for a sequel.
Sadly, there was never a “Savage Streets II” and Blair went on to better–well–other things. No, but I kid Blair. All things considered Blair in her prime was a gorgeous curvaceous sight for the movies, and “Savage Streets” is a fine installment in the later repertoire of Blair’s career, where she embraced grindhouse and exploitation at every turn and looked for any excuse to show skin. And I thank her for that. Linda Blair never really could convince anyone that she was a hardcore gangster woman, but “Savage Streets” is still a tasty bit of eighties exploitation with a fun premise, and a one two punch of the almighty Blair and Quigley.