Not that long ago the video store was a mundane and sometimes obnoxious part of life; driving over to some lonesome strip mall with your friends or family to comb through the all-too-often disorganized shelves of your local shop, argue over a selection, and then be stuck with it, for good or ill. Yet, it was also sublime. And for those who lived during the true video boom, video stores also equate to another bygone commodity: VHS. When JVC’s Video Home System won the early-80’s format war, the motion picture market changed forever. The genre and B-movies that had previously filled drive-ins across the country now often went straight to VHS. Then DVD took the world by storm in the late-90’s. It was a brave new world, and sadly, many films never made the leap, trapped now on a dead format. These often aren’t “good” films, but goddammit, they were what made video stores great. For we here at CHUD are the kind of people who tended to skip over the main stream titles, our eyes settling on some bizarre, tantalizing cover for a film we’d never even heard of, entranced. These films are what VHS was all about. Some people are still keeping the VHS flame burning. People like me, whose Facebook page Collecting VHS is a showcase for the lost charms of VHS box artwork. With this column it is my intention to highlight these “lost” films and the only rule I have for myself is that they cannot be available on DVD.
Title: Lady Avenger
Tagline: The only thing she couldn’t remember… was how to forget!!!
Released by: Southgate Entertainment
Director: David DeCoteau
Plot: Maggie is a tough girl from L.A. whose brother was violently slain by a gang of vicious thugs. She’s allowed to leave the prison she’s incarcerated in to attend her sibling’s funeral, where she pulls off a daring escape. With the law on her heels, Maggie will stop at nothing to find the creeps that killed her brother and make them pay in the worst ways imaginable.
“I’m gonna cut his fucking balls off and feed them to you!”
“I’m not hungry.” – An exchange of dialogue between two gang members in Lady Avenger.
Thoughts: For the most part, the revenge films of the seventies and eighties were a predominantly male dominated genre. Charles Bronson led the pack of angry, middle-aged dudes and ex-‘Nam vets that had a score to settle with all the scum which had taken over the city’s streets.
Then there was the female revenge genre, which offered a similar, but slightly more feminist approach to the material. Movies like Coffy, I Spit On Your Grave and Ms. .45 introduced us to a new pissed-off breed of ladies that refused to remain the victim. Ladies that could serve out some tough justice, proving once and for all that there’s nothing more dangerous than a woman scorned.
Lady Avenger begins with a young man and his girlfriend who have been kidnapped and beaten by a group of punks wearing nylon stockings over their heads. The man has his throat slit while the girl is brutally raped and then the cruel fiends carve out her eyes. Cut to the opening credits and an awesomely cheesy 80’s rock song called “Savage Streets.”
Next we meet Maggie (Peggy Sanders) a pretty blonde white girl who’s serving time in a women’s prison over a drug charge. It was her brother who was killed in the opening scene, so she’s allowed to leave the prison to attend his funeral. Maggie doesn’t buy the theory that her wicked stepfather is trying to sell about her brother being murdered because he was involved in drugs, so she pulls off a daring escape on foot at the funeral to get to the bottom of it all.
Turns out her brother was once involved in narcotics, but he’d gotten his act straight since Maggie took the fall for him and went to jail. Her old boyfriend and one of her hot best friends help her uncover some information that leads to a big drug smuggling operation. Things escalate when her brother’s blinded girlfriend is murdered in the hospital and the bad guys butcher her boyfriend in his home. Maggie starts killing one creep after another with a variety of weapons that include: baseball bat, gun, grenade and flamethrower.
Finally, she unravels the truth behind everything! Looks like her middle-aged jerk of a stepdad is the real drug kingpin and he’s not only responsible for Maggie’s incarceration and her brother’s death, he’s also slowly been poisoning her mother so he can steal all their money and land! AND he’s been screwing her hot girlfriend! This leads to an epic confrontation where Maggie gets some much-deserved vengeance and is finally acquitted of all wrong doings. Nothing like a happy eighties ending to help you wash down all the rape and violence you just witnessed.
This is one revenge movie that’s so cheesy; it makes Linda Blair’s Savage Streets look like The Virgin Spring in comparison. It’s filled with some absolutely horrendous acting, excessive gore, out-of-left-field nudity, and a plot devoid of any logic. But, it’s not without its charm either. In one chase scene some thugs in a truck pursue our heroine and her beau through the streets of L.A. Both vehicles crash through two parked cars and explode, but somehow everyone escapes from the burning vehicles unscathed.
I’ve got to give this one an A for originality. I’ve never seen a revenge flick that has so many insane plot twists before. The fact that it’s treated with the upmost sincerity makes it all the more delightful. Any film that features a line like, “He’s got a severe case of assholeism.” that’s totally delivered straight is okay with me.