Friday, October 26, 2012

Naked Vengeance (1985)



1985 - Naked Vengeance (D.S. Pictures/M.P. Films/Westbrook)

[US/Filipino co-production shot around Baguio, with second unit in New York and possibly Los Angeles; production supervised by Roger Corman's Concorde-New Horizons company, who retained the US theatrical rights. Also released on Danish VHS as "Ra Haevn", on Swedish VHS as "Hamnd Utan Nad", and in Turkey as "Intikam". IMDB lists "Satin Vengeance" as an unconfirmed alternate title]

Director/Producer Cirio H. Santiago Story/Second Unit Director Anthony Maharaj Writer Reilly Askew Dialogue Supervisor Joseph Zucchero Executive Producers Anthony Maharaj, [uncredited] Roger Corman Cinematography Ricardo Remias Music Ron Jones Theme Song "Still Got a Love" Writer Michael Cruz Singer Deborah Tranelli Editors Noah Blough, Pacífico Sánchez Sound Mixer/Production Sound Mixer George E. Mahlberg First Assistant Director Jose Mari Avellana Second Assistant Director José Torres Production Coordinator Dick A. Reyes Production Manager Honorato Perez Art Directors Boyet Camaya, Ronnie Cruz Location Manager Glenn Parian Casting [Manila] Henry Strzalkowski Construction Supervisor Ben Otico Special Effects Jess Sto. Domingo Makeup Artists Teresa Mercader, Norma Remias Wardrobe Stylists Gloria Garcia, Remia Mendoza, Elvie Santos Stunts Ronald Asinas, Tony Beso, Greg Rocero, Carlito Varca Camera Operator Johnny Araojo First Assistant Camera Romeo Onofre Second Assistant Camera Jun Del Rosario Boom Operators Vicente Dona, Dalmacio Dumigpi Assistant Sound Recordist Bing [de] Santos Gaffer Proceso Lázaro Production Assistants Trinidad Sagarbarria, Paula Stein Post-Production Supervisor Ernesto Bontigas Assistant Editors Rudy Cabrales, Pat Abad Apprentice Editor Joe Gutt Account Supervisor Christopher R. Santiago Production Accountant Octavio Mabilangan Assistant Accountant Armando Lacsamana Production Secretaries Marivic Ramas, Cathy Schroeder Script Clerk Nonette J. Garcia Title Designer Robert Ulrich Still Photographer Nilo Odiaman

Cast Deborah Tranelli (Carla Harris), Kaz Garas (Fletch), Carmen Argenziano (Detective Russo), Bill McLaughlin (Sheriff John Cates), Ed Crick (Burke), George E. Mahlberg (George Butch), Nick Nicholson (Sparky), Don Gordon [Bell] (Arnie), David Light (Ray), Terrence O'Hara (Mark Harris), Steve Roderick (Timmy), Joseph Zucchero (Dr. Fellows), Helen McNeely (Mrs Olson), Doc McCoy (Mr Olson), Henry Strzalkowski (Deputy Frank Winston), Bill Kipp (Deputy Reilly), Rosemarie Gil (Jesse), Barbara Peers (Estelle), [uncredited] Nigel Hogge (Investigator), Steve Rogers (State Trooper), Phil Morrell (Mark's Killer), Mathew Westfall, Mike Cohen



Don Gordon Bell on Naked Vengeance:

I was one of the five rapists, with Nick Nicholson. Think my name was Arnie and Nick was Sparky. We had quite a challenge doing the rape scene...it was quite intense yet professional. Deborah Tranelli was a trooper and told me to really 'go down' close when I was, uh, well, going down on her just before her 'parents' arrive home. Most of the women on the set were upset at us for several days. (Sheesh, it's only acting)

Funniest thing was standing around in a 'jock-strap' that I was wearing, my buns hanging out. One of the STILL photographers caught me and gave me a copy but I lost that one.

I died a horrible death, being wounded by the revengeful "Carla" and knocked down into an Ice Crusher at the Ice House where my character Arnie worked. I had to improvise by duck taping a skateboard to my stomach and that way I could be pushed down the ramp with two huge blocks of ice behind me. Took three takes, first one the stuntmen pushed me to hard and cameras couldn't pan fast enough. 2nd take went great, but I got smashed with the ice inside the box. 3rd take, was the best, with the camera on short tripod the cameraman had to be pulled out of the way as I came screaming straight into the shot.

The last one I realized that I might hit so I grabbed the side of the box so I would not hit the camera and operator. The two blocks of ice knocked me upwards, slammed my head on the top, but gave them time to roll away. Both blocks of ice came to rest on top of me.

Director Cirio called out, in his usual calm voice, "Hey babe, you okay?" I was pinned against the back, unable to move the blocks off and no one was helping me. "NO, Direct! I am not okay...get me outta here." Everyone broke out laughing as Cirio called to "That's a Wrap!" By the time I got out, most had left the set. I went back to the hotel, with the skateboard still ducktaped to me, just for fun. AH, those were the days, what a way to make a living.


Phil Morrell on Naked Vengeance:

I worked for Roger Corman and Cannon films 1980/1987 mostly in the art department/set construction. Naked Vengeance was my first and last experience in front of the camera. I played the killer that started the film, and was at the end. It was fun. It's nice to see my name in the credits. As I have just read the guidelines I guess I'd better give my opinion of the film. I think it is a reasonably good film considering the budget. I think it may be one of the first woman vengeance films. I'm no expert. It may be too gruesome for some. It did play on channel 13 in the early 90's although very much censored. I liked it.

Mini-review by Andrew Leavold:

NAKED VENGEANCE (dir. Cirio H. Santiago, 1985) Deborah (Dallas) Tranelli plays Carla Harris, former actress and now rich housewife forced to witnesses her husband's brutal murder by a gun-wielding psycho. She flees to her parents' home amongst the pine tree-lined Californian hills of Silver Lake (actually Baguio, north of Manila!), only to become the object of her former home town's envy and lust. Having caught the unwanted sexual attentions of a repellent, utterly convincing pack of sociopaths, she is raped repeatedly, her parents are shot, and she is left for dead in a catatonic trance, only to snap into vengeance mode and track down each of her attackers ("Drown, bastard!") in satisfyingly gruesome ways. Equal parts I Spit On Your Grave and Ms .45, Naked Vengeance is exploitation cinema in the purest sense of the term, an intriguing and superbly paced riff on the familiar rape-revenge scenario, and arguably Santiago's finest work from the Eighties, with effective performances from his regulars: Nick Nicholson as rapist mechanic Sparky and a suave Don Gordon Bell playing ice worker (and soon-to-be ice cube) Arnie are in top form, as is David Light, the barkeep transformed by Carla into a human flambee. Joining the familiar faces are Henry Strzalkowski as a deputy, Joe Zucchero (with toupee) as Carla's befuddled doctor, and an uncredited Nigel Hogge as an investigator and Steve Rogers as a State Trooper. Carla's blood-drenched butcher shop duel with lead rapist Fletch (Final Mission's Kaz Garas) can be seen in its entirety in the unrated US version boasting 20 minutes more footage than the R-rated version sold to the rest of the world, along with the controversial in which Burke (Ed Crick) has his balls cut off and his body hooked to a moving speedboat - economically splicing I Spit On Your Grave's bathtub castration and boat scenes - and a harrowing rape montage that recalls Straw Dogs' grotesque carnival atmosphere rather than the documentary realism of I Spit… Cirio's best? Certainly with the three collaborations between Santiago and West Indian producer and writer Anthony Maharaj (see also Final Mission and the loopy Future Hunters), they scored a solid three out of three. Essential.  

Review from the Movie Censorship website:

Carla Harris has made it. She could escape from the small town, became an actress and married a good guy. Everything in her life is going well until this fateful night. Her husband is shot dead the offender could not be investigated. To get her sorrow under control Carla decides going back to her hometown to find a new lease of life at their parents. But her hometown receives her with mingled and doubtful feelings: Jealousness of former friends, envy and desire of the guys. Returning home ends up in a disaster….

Rape 'n' Revenge – should happen in this subgenre classic… NAKED VENGEANCE belongs to. The plot is simple and quite predictable but the screenplay itself tries to avoid evidently clichés and reaches well-ordered tracks after a clumsy opening with a constant solid suspense curve until the end. Despite all simplicities the positive aspect prevails: The characters act in a reasonable manner, the culmination with the multiple rapes is convincingly shocking and the following revenge is not as is customary in this genre. The Sheriff figures out pretty early how the wind blows and the hunt for the suspects gets soon into top gear. So she is huntress and prey at the same time. But the objects of revenge too react skilfully. They do not just kill the injured at the hospital but rather abide their time pulling strings behind the scenes. So it once already happens that the avenger is held up by a police road block after another murder, only just can escape before the hasty mustered mob drive her into a house. This house then is getting burned off above her head and she can only get out with difficulty. The end can almost be indicated as apocalyptic….

The actors all know their stuff. Deborah Tranelli in the leading role celebrated her biggest success 5 years later in the TV serial "Dallas" where she had a leading part in more than 120 episodes. Also in this movie she has some impressive moments. Her competence as Jazz musician has been used for recording the song "Still Got A Love" for the sound track. The bad guys Kaz Garas, Nick Nicholson and Don Gordon Bell are quasi components of a Santiago movie of the eighties confidently play their role. And director Cirio H. Santiago (suddenly deceased in September 2008) anyway belongs to the artists of the B-Action ware genre. With a very often low budget he creates expensive-looking movies usually belonging to the greatest exponents of the respective genres. I personally recommend the Mad-Max-Clone STRYKER (will also like NAM ANGELS be released uncut for the Export in the near future)!

Let's have a look now on the compared versions. The movie has been released as R-Rated and Unrated version within the USA. The R-Rated Version has been exported to several other countries like Australia and Germany. The UK version should also be based on the R-Rated but additionally close to 30 seconds have been cut. As the only known to me Unrated Version the US-Tape of Lighting-Video is qualified for the comparison. This tape on hand has been compared with the German VHS from Vestron Video (R-Rated) running about 20 minutes longer. It should not go unmentioned that both versions contain a huge amount of jump cuts. I also do not list every passage featuring a longer running scene in whatever version. I’ve narrowed down to for me important differences and really conspicuous ones. However I would recommend every gentle fan to have a look on the US-Tape. The presented screen shots originate from the tape. This was not only old and hackneyed but also has been digitized in addition and for the purpose of a better comparison adjusted to the norm. Therefore please accept my apologies for the partly lousy quality. Here and there the images haven been edited but not all in the same manner.
So Folks, Action....

A extra huge thank you today for baron666, who provides the extremely rare German VHS tape for me.

R-Rated version = 74:28 Min. (Pal)
Unrated version = 97:08 Min. (NTSC), 93:16 Min. Pal

Total difference = 18 minutes 52 seconds within 35 distinctions

6:18 Min.
The complete sequence of Mark’s funeral where Carla once again declares her love to him and says tearfully farewell is missing. Right before the restart of the R-Rated version with the arrival of the Cops, Carla packs Mark’s clothes.
( 101 sec. )

9:09 Min.
The Cop leaves and the two last shots are missing. Directly after the unrated version shows some external shots of Carla driving to her parents.
( 46 sec. )

11:24 Min.
Only in the unrated version Burke mutters "Bitch!" when she leaves the gas-station. In the R-Rated version the following side-view of the driving Carla is also missing.
( 8 sec. )

12:03 Min.
Now we’ve got a massive shortening of important storylines – because two leading characters get introduced. After Carla has been said welcome from her parents the first thing missing is: Shift on to the next day, Carla in undies mixing some stuff in the kitchen. Somebody’s knocking on the door it is Tim, a young employee of her parents begging for a glass of water. While she is getting the water for him he considers attentively her body. He then drinks the water and goes back to work. A little later Carla leaves for the city and tells her father, who works with Tim in the garden, good-bye. Daddy mentions that they are invited for tonight but Carla wants to stay at home. Tim incidentally catches this conversation and it seems that he apparently registers it. Now change to the city where Carla is driving along the street. Suddenly a van comes out reverse of a driveway and she barely can stop. It seems that the driver, Artie, just has prompted this, gets out of the van and starts flirting with Carla. She gets mad and the Sheriff is joining. A little tit for tat, Carla is still annoyed, the Sheriff acts cool and Artie blank-faced. With the scene of Carla strolling about the sidewalk the R-Rated version restarts. In total at a stretch it is missing….
( 259 sec. )

14:33 Min.
Carla says good bye to her parents. The unrated in addition has a scene where she looks at her hand with the wedding ring and an outside view of the bar.
( 17 sec. )

14:51 Min.
Carla comes into the club. Again a pretty long piece from the beginning of the following scene is missing. Burke notices her and then calls for her. But Carla takes no notice of him because she recognizes an old friend – Estelle– who also call for her. She takes a seat at her table and gets introduced to her husband. After some small talk the next old acquaintance - David-appears. Here too Carla is pleased with his company and he also takes a seat at the table. Estelle suddenly prompts verbal barbs; David should now be better at home with his wife. Then her jealousness shimmers through on Carla: She were an actress and didn’t Estelle have lately seen her in a trash bag commercial? And that Carla had married a really rich patron. Carla obviously feels uncomfortable gets angry and takes a seat at the bar. With the now following shot of Sparky, Burke and Artie at the table the R-Rated version restarts again.
( 125 sec. )

20:45 Min.
The start of the long shot showing young Tim drinking booth from the bottle is missing.
( 7 sec. )

21:04 Min.
Another side close-up view of Fletch railing against Carla – even Burke butts in – is missing. The telling of raunchy jokes ("Bitch", "She's wide open" etc.) is missing, before the R-Rated version restarts again with the frontal long-shot.
( 19 sec. )

21:06 Min.
This frontal long shot only runs the length of one sentence ("She went to the Sheriff dropping a dime on me!"), and then we have another cut. More raunchy jokes follow ("You want to stick your finger in her butt!"), Fletch is getting pranked. He gets angry and tries to attack the youngster Tim but the others can cool him down. And there is more alcohol-impaired jabbering….
( 43 sec. )

24:54 Min.
Naturally the multiple rapes have been cut.
( 77 sec. )

26:06 Min.
The scene where Carla’s mother gets hit by a scatter-gun in her chest runs much longer in the Unrated version.
( 2 sec. )

26:10 Min.
And the slow-motion where she fell into her arms starts earlier in the unrated version.
( 2 sec. )

26:25 Min.
Another scene of her father’s going down on the floor with a bloody chest.
( 1.5 sec. )

30:02 Min.
The complete sequence in the fitness studio where the five rapists chew over their bad deed, arguing, fighting and finally calming down is missing. Then the counter cut on to the Sheriff’s office where he is just about to leave. Right now the unrated version switches to Artie’s ice factory where they all meet in front of the entrance. They are all told that Carla is still alive. But what should they do now? Nothing is the answer. Staying calm! In the R-Rated version this sequence gets inserted in the hospital scene at 32:25 Min. right before the Sheriff questions the injured Carla. There is a total difference in the R-Rated version of
( 128 sec. )

32:26 Min.
Due to connection reasons the beginning of the scene where the Sheriff together with the doctor enters Carla’s hospital room.
( 20 sec. )

33:38 Min.
The first part of the take with the freaking out patient Jessy after the counter cut onto the Sheriff is also missing.
( 3 sec. )

36:26 Min.
One more shot of the burning Ray as well as a previous counter cut on Carla.
( 6 sec. )

37:55 Min.
An additional scene in the hospital where the Sheriff walks accompanied by the doctor through the corridor.
( 10.5 sec. )

38:01 Min.
Another additional side view of Carla sitting and painting something.
( 3.5 sec. )

40:20 Min.
There is a short scene with the doctor talking to Carla at the beach. He asks her how she feels and tells her that she could come to see him after a short walk. She nods her approval.
( 38.5 sec. )

41:41 Min.
Carla walks along the waterfront while Burke in a boat follows her on the lake. The cut begins when she starts lifting up her dress. It’s missing when she takes it off and walks along naked.
( 10 sec. )

42:50 Min.
Carla kills Burke in the water. The front view of Carla is also missing as well as the beginning of the following shot where he tilts aside.
( 7 sec. )

42:57 Min.
The front view is now inserted into the R-Rated version but therefore the complete rest is missing. The guy is still alive and tries to escape. Carla throws a grapple after him, catches him, ties the rope up to the boat and starts the machine. Burke gets dragged along and is on tow over the water. With a view of Carla gazing after him ("You Bastard!") the R-Rated version restarts with the locating of his dead body. In total there are missing....
( 42 sec. )

43:33 Min.
Once again a scene runs a little longer.
( 6 sec. )

56:33 Min.
This is a very smart cut because it can’t be seen in the R-Rated version how Carla hits Artie’s throat with an ice pick.
( 2.5 sec. )

56:40 Min.
She hits him two more times and Artie draws back on the conveyor band – imperceptible.
( 6 sec. )

66:02 Min.
As Fletch’s employee closes the door the following scene is missing. Fletch notices some more beef knuckles and carries one in the cold store. The R-Rated restarts at the time he picks up the second one.
( 34 Sek. )

66:32 Min.
One take is missing when Fletch cuts over Carla’s breasts with a butcher’s knife.
( 3 sec. )

66:37 Min.
The fight between Carla and Fletch has been badly censored. After Carla scurried through the door and Fletch closes in for the kill behind her the cutting starts: She gets the butcher’s knife and attacks Fletch. He could avoid a blow, takes away her knife trying to hit her with a meat hook. But he gets caught on a beam and Carla tries to escape. Fletch can grab her hair pushing her towards the sausage slicer and activates the switch. Before Fletch can push her face into the cutter blade she bites in his hand. Blood splashes before the R-Rated version restarts.
( 25.5 sec. )

66:47 Min.
Another take where Carla claws out Fletch’s eyes as well as a counter cut.
( 3 sec. )

66:57 Min.
The take of Fletcher who turns around with the meat axe sticking in his back has been shortened in so far the axe can’t be seen in the R-Rated version.
( 1 sec. )

67:01 Min.
The complete sequence of Fletch staggering over to Clara (the meat axe still in his back) and then flinging her against a shop window is completely missing. She breaks through the glass with her head and drops on the floor. Fletch also falls down on his knees before the R-Rated version restarts with the escape out of the store. Oh, due to connection reasons there is only in the R-Rated version a previous shown front view of Clara. In total there are missing
( 32 sec. )

67:05 Min.
Clara leans against the door and now the previous removed shot of Fletch skidded down the wall (see image 7 of the previous cut) is shown in the R-Rated version. The original version instead shows all the rest: Fletch is certainly not dead, comes out from behind the bar dashing at Carla. She escapes to his office and tries to break the window glass with a chair while Fletch behind her drives a hole into the door with his axe. When he breaks in she throws the chair against his head so that he’s falling down. Then Carla overturns the desk and the scatter-gun is dropping out. Bleeding and exhausted she slips to the ground looking at Fletch who crawls towards her. He gets up, raises the axe…Clara grabs the gun and shoots his head from his shoulders. In total the R-Rated version lacks of
( 50 sec. )

And last but not least the closing credits are complete in the unrated version. I go without time designation and images – I’m too tired.

Fred Adelman's review on his Critical Condition Online website:

NAKED VENGEANCE (1985) - Now don't get me wrong here: I find most of director Cirio H. Santiago's films to be boring tripe, but he must have been taking hallucinogens here because he has turned out a perfectly crazy rip-off of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (1978), maybe even outdoing it in sheer sleaze factor alone. Carla, a commercial actress (Deborah Tranelli of DALLAS fame), watches as her husband is gunned down by a creep he tried to stop from raping a girl. She leaves New York City for her home town in the country and is savagely raped by five townies in her parents house. When her parents come home and see what is happening to their daughter, they are shotgunned by the gang and then kill the local retard, making it look like the retard did the killings. Thinking that Carla is dead, they leave the house and go to a bar and get drunk. Of course Carla is not dead, just in a catatonic state and she is brought to the hospital. The local sheriff (Bill McLaughlin, who walks around with an expression on his face like he was sucking on a lemon all day), doesn't quite believe the story and wants to question Carla on what really happened. Her doctor refuses as Carla fakes amnesia while picking off her attackers one-by-one. She lops off the dick one one of them with a knife and, just to make sure he suffers more, attaches a grappling hook to his chest an has his boat drag him out to the middle of the lake to bleed to death. Another one has a car dropped on his body as she steps on the gas and has the tire rim cut off his legs. The leader of the raping pack, Fletch (Kaz Garaz, who played a sheriff in the 1996 remake of HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP), who is the town's butcher, knows who is doing the killings and decides to form a posse (the whole town seems to be full of torch-wielding hicks) and trap Carla in a house and burn it down. Thinking Carla died in the fire (she didn't), Fletch goes about his business in his butcher shop only to be surprised by Carla, who cuts off his fingers with a meat slicer, plants a meat cleaver in his back and then blows his head off with a shotgun. The sheriff declares that Carla is dead and the killings are over. The next time we see Carla is back in New York City, getting even with the punk who killed her husband. 

This is grand sleaze which never slacks off its premise, which is highly unusual for a Cirio H. Santiago film (FUTURE HUNTERS anyone?). The film moves at a brisk pace and is never boring. It was released in both R-rated and Unrated editions, the Unrated edition showing more of the gang rape and lingers more on the bloody violence. Guess which version you should track down? Mr. Santiago has directed over 50 features (many for Roger Corman) and is highly-regarded in his homeland of the Philippines. I consider NAKED VENGEANCE to be his crowning achievement. A Lightning Video Release which has been long OOP. This is another film crying out for a DVD release. Also starring Ed Crick, Nick Nicholson, Terrence O'Hara and a cameo appearance by Carmen Argenziano (HELLRAISER:INFERNO - 2000 and STARGATE SG1). Also known as SATIN VENGEANCE, but I've never seen it released under this title. Unrated.

Review on the Daily Grindhouse website:

Carla Harris has the worst luck. First, her husband is shot and killed in front of her when he makes a heroic effort to stop a rape in progress on their anniversary night. Then, in an attempt to escape the trauma, she packs up and heads to the small town where her parents live, only to be harassed and ogled by the locals and ignored by authorities when she’s had enough. Finally, the offended and horned-up yokels break into her house, rape her, and kill her parents – who were unlucky enough to arrive home unexpectedly.

I’ve chosen to kick off my new series in which I will examine films with a revenge or vengeance element with Cirio H. Santiago’s NAKED VENGEANCE, because it does something I always appreciate in these typically formulaic rape/revenge movies: it combines elements of different films to make something a bit unique (even if by complete accident). In this case, NAKED VENGEANCE takes on a Universal Monsters vibe, having tonal similarities to FRANKENSTEIN.

After Carla (played wonderfully by Deborah Tranelli, showing way more skin than you’ll ever see on Dallas) is raped and her family killed, she slips into a coma. Awakening in the hospital and refusing to talk, she doesn’t lead on that she’s a bit more cognizant than she appears. This affords her the opportunity to slip out into the night to do as expected – take bloody revenge. While NAKED VENGEANCE isn’t very graphic, Carla’s methods of justice are extreme and painful. Her retribution is so extreme, in fact, the men see fit to seek their own. While Carla appears to everyone else as a helpless woman shocked into muteness, her attackers see past her ploy and form an angry mob.

While it’s a stretch, for sure, finding parallels between Carla and other misunderstood monsters is part of what makes NAKED VENGEANCE a step above other films of its ilk, even while maintaining its wonderful trashiness. The men created a monstrous force in Carla, and their guilt drives them to immediately realize what’s thinning their testosterone-filled herd. That they band together and demand their own justice is less ridiculous than it sounds; they are frightened, demeaned, and, ultimately, angry at Carla’s choice to go all vigilante on their asses. Nevermind their propensity to engage in sexual activity by force, and lack of compassion when killing an elderly couple in front of their daughter, they are going to protect themselves – even against doom of their own making. This depth gives the film its legs.

NAKED VENGEANCE is exploitation through and through- Santiago delivered the film to audiences in the latter half of the Grindhouse heyday, but his intentions were certainly no more noble than to make his own rape/revenge saga. Much like the way we look back with nostalgia and accept these sorts of films for what they are, no matter how vile they may be, because we understand that in order to capitalize on the demands of the audiences, the filmmakers must remain morally agnostic or, at worst, completely ignorant of the filth they were making. I can only imagine Carla Harris is a wonderful mistake. The question of whether her revenge fits the crime is a whole different discussion (and one we’ll get into later in this series but, spoiler, I’d argue it does not), what matters is that NAKED VENGEANCE masks it with a clever layer of scale-seesawing vaguely reminiscent of some of the Universal monster classics. The ends aren’t justified by the means, necessarily, but at least the journey isn’t entirely black and white. It makes for compelling exploitation cinema.

Yum-Yum's review on their House Of Self-Indulgence blog:

When you find that the scales of justice are failing to tip favourably in your general direction, do you: a) Shrug your shoulders, smoke a cigarette, and go buy some ham, b) Accept the fact that the lowlife who murdered your husband, the redneck with a gym membership who filled your parents full of lead, and the unruly mob of former high school acquaintances who gang raped you to the point of mental and physical exhaustion will all go unpunished for their dastardly crimes, or c) Kill them all. I don't want to influence your decision, but please say 'c.' While I'm all for the purchasing of pork products and acting indifferent in the face of injustice, there are times when revenge is the only reasonable course of action a distressed woman with freakishly small nipples can take. And judging by the manner in which the retribution is doled out in Naked Vengeance, you won't be losing any sleep whatsoever over the way the culprits are dispatched in this movie. In case you're wondering, I happen to think murdering a classmate because he or she stole your eraser is wrong. I'm also against killing sprees that involve people who are disgruntled, and I'm not a big fan of rogue snipers with a score to settle. However, castrating rapists and drowning them in a pastoral lake that may or may not be located in The Philippines while in the buff is totally acceptable, especially if the perpetrator participated in the brutal gang rape of someone while they were trying to recover from the death of a loved one at the hands of a different rapist all-together at their parents' house in the country. Now, I've seen plenty of movies where the recently bereaved have to overcome adversity, but the amount of crap the recently bereaved lead in this film has to put up with was ridiculous. Hell, she can't even go to the supermarket without being harassed by a non-stop cavalcade of lecherous fiends.

Your classic American revenge story as told from the perspective of a wily Filipino named Cirio H. Santiago, Naked Vengeance may seem like yet another tale of rural comeuppance gone awry. But this particular semisolid lump of retaliatory cinema has got a brunette ace of up its sleeve, and that ace is Deborah Tranelli (yeah, that's right, Phyllis from Dallas). Wait a minute, how did they persuade Deborah Tranelli to appear in a film like this? I mean, the gang rape sequence isn't exactly a walk in the proverbial park in terms of conventional acting. What gives? Well, my theory is that in exchange for agreeing to give it her all in an extended gang rape scene, the producers allowed her to sing the film's theme song. It's a fair trade, if you ask someone who is not me, because the song, "Still Got a Love," and the gang rape are two of the things that make this film so freakin' memorable.

I'm no vengeance expert, but I think you're gonna need a lot more than a catchy theme song and a fireside gang rape sequence to create a half decent revenge movie. You're absolutely right. While I enjoyed the song, when Deborah sings the line, "there's so many wounded losers, so many broken hearts," I thought about the type of person who might get chills listening to lyrics like that, and the gang rape scene had an intensity about it that reminded me of the gang rape scene in Savage Streets, part of me sincerely hoped the film had more to offer than mushy yet defiant song lyrics and tasteless thrills.

On the morning of their five year wedding anniversary, a young L.A. couple in the throes of domestic bliss are getting ready for the day ahead of them. Reluctant to take part in a celebratory dinner at a fancy restaurant to commemorate their modest matrimonial milestone, Mark Harris (Terrence O'Hara) finally agrees to attend after his wife Carla Harris (Deborah Tranelli) promises to move the dinner to from 7pm to 9pm and to wear her black stockings and garter belt. The moment the words "black stockings and garter belt" left his mouth I knew he would never get to see his wife's supple lower half sheathed in the nylon and lace he requested. And, unfortunately, I was right. While leaving the restaurant, Mark notices a woman struggling to escape the clutches of a belligerent man in the vicinity of a dumpster. Ignoring the fact that the dainty black garter belt lurking underneath Carla's dress is currently pressing tightly against the aerobicised firmness of her sweat-drenched stomach, Mark leaps to the woman's aide. Even though Carla tells him to be careful while he was leaping, Mark, after a brief struggle, winds up dead as a result of a gunshot wound to the chest.

Frustrated that none of the witnesses, nor the woman her husband tried to help, are willing to admit they saw anything, Carla feels as if the justice system has let her down. A useless detective (Carmen Argenziano) attempts to explain why the case against her husband's murderer has hit so many snags, but Carla is too distraught to give a shit. Tired and emotionally drained by the whole experience, Carla decides to leave town and visit her parents in Silver Lake, the small California town she grew up in, to clear her head.

While the name "Silver Lake" sounds like the ideal place for one to clear their head, it's actually not ideal. In fact, it's the complete opposite of ideal. You wanna know why it's not ideal? No? Well, I'll tell you anyway. It's because there are people living in Silver Lake, and cobbled together from what I've accidentally gleaned over the years, people are the worst. Okay, I'll admit, that was a tad misanthropic. However, if the people in the town you just arrived in resent the fact that you left their backwater burg to appear in fancy television commercials for plastic wrap and dog food in the big city, don't expect the welcome you receive to be all warm and fuzzy when your grieving ass shows up all of a sudden wearing designer sunglasses and a blue dress with a taupe belt.

What takes place next is what I like to call "the harassment chapter," as Carla encounters one indignant Silver Lake resident after another. While the female residents of her hometown seem content to merely throw her the occasional catty glance, it's the menfolk who really seem to relish in tormenting our chic (her taupe belt is wonderfully complimented by a pair of a taupe pumps) heroine. A gas station attendant named Sparky (Nick Nicholson) and Burke (Ed Crick), a vulgar hanger-on with vending machine issues, are the first to hassle her. The youthful gardener, Timmy (Steve Roderick), who works for her parents, leers at her in a highly suggestive manner as she gets him a glass water, but his technique was more subtle. The same can't be said for Arnold (Don Gordon Bell), an ice house employee, Fletch (Kaz Garas), the town's butcher, and Ray (David Light), the bartender at a local watering hole, as they all make overly aggressive advances toward the fashionable brunette.

As expected, all their attempts to woo her are met with failure. In an effort to make doubly sure that his animal magnetism wasn't on the fritz, Fletch takes a second run at her in the parking lot of Ray's pub. After he starts pawing at her, Carla plants the pointiest part of her well-proportioned knee firmly into the creamy centre of the butcher's crotch, causing him to feel a fair amount of discomfort. When she finally does get home, Carla slips out of her disco-inspired one-piece to reveal that she is wearing a pair of black panties with a black bra. You'll notice she isn't wearing black stockings or a garter belt underneath her clothing. This may sound like a bit of a stretch, but I chose to see her decision not to wear any superfluous undergarments as her subtle way of honouring the lingerie loving legacy of her late husband. Sadly, Timmy, who's been watching her get undressed through her window, doesn't pick up on the subtlety of Carla's tribute.

An increasingly disheartened Carla tries to report Timmy's peeping and Fletch's groping to Sheriff Cates (Bill McLaughlin), but that goes nowhere fast, as he basically tells her that "boys will be boys" and that she should start thinking about closing her drapes at night. Meanwhile, over at Ray's bar, the gang can be seen commiserating over the fact that they all failed to make any romantic headway with Carla, even though she's, as one of them puts it, a "closet nympho."

When word gets out (way to go, Timmy) that Carla is "home alone" (her parents have gone away for the weekend), the five of them, including Timmy, decide to pay her a surprise visit. After Timmy somehow manages to knock himself unconscious, the drunken quintet proceed to take turns sexually assaulting her in a scene that was off the charts in terms unpleasantness. And just when you thought things couldn't get any worse, Carla's parents arrive home earlier than expected. I don't think I need to explain what happens next–you know, given Carla's recent track record (the gal can't seem to catch a break). But let's just say Carla is not a happy camper when all is said and done.

Since Silver Lake seems to lack a functioning sexual assault evidence kit (a device that would have easily detected that Carla had been raped by five assailants), and with a catatonic Carla in the hospital under the care of a doctor (Joseph Zucchero) who looked like a slimmed down version of Alex Karras, the five rapists, content in the knowledge that Timmy is the one being blamed for the death of Carla and her parents, go about their day as if nothing had happened. Whoa, did you say, "death of Carla"?!? Yeah, I did. The five rapists, get this, think Carla's dead. Oh, man, are they in for a nasty surprise.

Inspired by the vengeance-laden hysterics coming from the patient in the room next-door, Carla decides right then and there to take matters into her own hands when it comes to dispensing justice. After Ray the bartender is set ablaze while closing up his bar, Carla says, "burn, bastard." When she said that, I was like, yes! In that, I hope she says something like that after every rapist is eliminated. It seemed like they were gonna continue the bastard motif when she gets around to taking care of the next rapist, but, unfortunately, she stopped saying "bastard" after she castrates and drowns Burke in the lake near the hospital.

Nevertheless, the sight of a naked Carla, her flyspeck nipples shimmering in the midday sun, saying, "drown, bastard," after slicing off Burke's primary raping genitals with a hunting knife was a thing of uncomfortable beauty. Just for record: When I refer to the smallness of Deborah Tranelli's nipples, I don't mean it in a negative way. My attitude when it comes to nipple size is one of benign indifference.

Getting back to the bastard motif, the opportunities for Carla to vocalize bastard-based zingers seemed to diminish the deeper she waded into the vengeance pool. Besides, what are you supposed to say after you cut a mechanic in half with the jeep he's working on, push a man into an industrial-strength ice maker, and ventilate a man's forehead with a shotgun? I mean, "subdural hematoma, bastard" is a bit of a mouthful.

Surviving a back alley assault that resulted in the death of her husband, putting up with a comprehensive campaign of sexual harassment, and enduring a brutal gang rape that was punctuated with the murder of her parents, Deborah Tranelli gives a courageous performance as Carla, the pluckiest brunette avenger ever to give up black stockings and garter belts cold turkey. Seriously, I was literally in awe of Deborah's work in this film, especially during the gang rape scene, the lakeside castration sequence, and the butcher shop melee. It takes a special kind of actress to drown a man utilizing a grappling hook without any clothes on, and Deborah Tranelli is pretty darned special. Sure, she doesn't utter pithy one-liners after every kill, but as far as revenge movies go, Naked Vengeance is a definite winner.

Review on the Beardy Freak website:

Carla Harris (Deborah "Dallas" Tranelli) is out with her Husband Mark (Terrence O'Hara) to celebrate their anniversary when they spot a woman being attacked.
Mark tries to intervene but is shot by the attacker. Later, the Police tell her that no witnesses came forward and that the woman is a known junkie and won't testify.

Carla decides to get away from it all and goes to stay with her Parents in their secluded cabin in her small hometown. And what a town it is! To say it's full of slimebags is an understatement! Almost every person she meets sexually harasses her, and even the Sheriff (Bill McLaughlin) is unpleasant when she dares to complain "I think you're old enough to take care of yourself." In fact everyone's at it! An ex boyfriend, Burke (Ed Crick) harasses her. Her Parent's handyman leers at her. The local Butcher makes a play for her "Hey, don't forget, I've got the best beef in town"! A barman makes a move on her. A truck driver insults her. Even an old friend's Husband openly leers at her (not that she's a very friendly friend anyway!). Without doubt dear reader, we have just experienced the most unfriendly, sleazy and downright unpleasant town in America.

Burke and four other of these delightful individuals get together one night and go to Carla's cabin where they brutally gang rape her and shoot dead her Parents. Pretending to be catatonic after the attack, as the Sheriff sniffs around the case, Carla plans her brutal revenge!... As the awful soft rock ballad plays over the titles (sung by Tranelli and a great example of 80's musical lows) the signs would not seem to be good, but don't let this blemish put you off…there is much to enjoy here.

Filipino born Santiago is in line with those bandwagon jumping Italian directors we love so much, spewing out various 'Post Apocalyptic' efforts during the 80's when they were popular for example and here, in "Naked Vengeance", he goes for the ever popular 'lone avenger/vigilante' sub-genre.

Much of the advertising seems to go for a Female "Death Wish" angle, but this actually owes far more to the infamous "I Spit on Your Grave". His direction is pretty lacklustre for the most part, but Santiago seems to wake up during the revenge sequences and crafts some meaty and satisfying scenes. This may not have the realism or character study high points of the first "Death Wish" but Reilly Askew's script (and Anthony Maharaj does's story) does what it sets out to do with aplomb. Tranelli, despite carrying unfortunate "Dallas" baggage along with her, actually does a sterling job as the much-wronged Carla. Willing to go through various sexual indignities and to briefly bare all she really comes into her own while dishing out cold hearted, hot blooded, vengeance. When she utters, through clenched teeth, "burn bastard" or "drown bastard", you really get the feeling she means it!

The 'goons' are pretty much your normal token bad guys who hide behind semi-respectability, no actor or character stands out. The most complex character is actually the Sheriff. Seemingly as bad as the guys he takes no action against he annoys the hell out of the viewer. But later there are some realistic switches to his attitude as suspicions about what happened at the cabin sink in. But initially he is as unsympathetic as the attackers. Let's have a little round-up of the helpful Sheriff's advice; when Carla reports a peeping tom she gets "close your curtains". When she reports she was attacked in the car park by the randy Butcher she gets "these guys are a little wild, but they're just having fun with you. Why don't you just relax a little bit? If anything they were trying to pay you a compliment"! What a guy! Nice turn by McLaughlin.

The rape sequence is suitably unpleasant though it never reaches the heights of the aforementioned "I Spit". The attack is shown as almost a montage as different assailants assault her in various positions. It's basically pure Exploitation, but is actually very serious in the way it portrays her ordeal. Little nudity is seen and the sequence relies more on the rough manhandling she goes through, her screaming face and pleading.

But it's in the revenge violence where the film really sparkles. Carla dishes out some wonderfully sadistic demises. No quick and easy deaths here, these guys see it coming and they suffer when it gets there! It's far bloodier than the "Death Wish" films or "I Spit on Your Grave". Very messy shotgun hits, cleaved, slashed, ripped flesh and general sadism are the order of the day here and Carla makes for a sympathetic yet crowd-pleasing vigilante. The Exploitation highlights are the raging, blood soaked finale and a wonderfully exploitative bit of revenge seduction (that is straight out of "I Spit" and fans of that film will get a kick from the punishment dished out here and no mistake!) where Carla strips as she walks along a river bank, drawing in her would-be victim with cold and calculated manipulation.

At one point in the movie one of the doomed goons announces, after the deaths of some of his buddies, "A woman can't do that, it's gotta be a guy". Never have words sounded so foolish! Go girl!

Review from Scoopy:

Since the first two seasons of "Dallas" are available on DVD now, what better way is there to bring this to the attention of whom it interests than by celebrating the big nude scene of Bobby's sweet secretary Phyllis, played by Deborah Tranelli. She let it all hang out in the still hard-to-find revenge movie "Naked Vengeance".

The Video Movie Guide 1999 considers this film a turkey. It says: "Unpleasant exploitation flick about a woman who seeks vengeance after she is raped and her parents murdered. Available both in R and unrated versions; we suggest that you avoid both".

Well I don't agree. I think it is one of the better and cleverer movies in its genre - way better than Death Wish II - and I have Robert Hofman's Film Encyclopedia to back me up. It reads: "A harsh and thrilling drama with a good acting from Tranelli. Her husband is murdered after 5 years of marriage, so she returns to her parents. She's raped right in their home, and her parents, too, are killed. When Tranelli is nursed back to health, she seeks revenge on the murderers. Shot in December 1984 by Filipino Santiago in California."

Since I first reviewed this in 1999, a few more reviews have appeared on the IMDb and they are also positive. What puzzles me is that this film is still not available on DVD anywhere, as far as I know.

Deb shows everything twice in the film. In her first nude scene she gets raped by drunken men from her hometown who have held some long-standing grudge against her. Although nearly not as graphic as a similar scene in Death Wish II, it does get pretty violent at times. In her second nude scene, Debbie has recovered from her injuries, and has decided to reverse the roles with a revenge rampage. We first see her naked when she opts attract the attention of one of her molesters in a way that Charles Bronson never did, thank goodness. The guy thinks she's coming back for more of what he has give her, but he ends up with ... um ... less. And she grins when she man-handles him so badly.

Review from the Kult Eye Bleeder blog:

Santiago's take on the rape-revenge genre.

Husband (Terrence O'Hara) and wife (Deborah Tranelli) go out to celebrate their anniversary. After coming from a restaurant to the car park they see thug beating up woman. Husband intervenes and gets killed by the thug. Police is helpless because they have no eye-witnesses. Wife, Carla, gets frustrated and goes to the country side to stay with her parents.

Everyone at her old hometown gives her hard time. One night local hell raisers decide to pay her a visit. They gang-rape her. Carla's parents came back early, they were visiting relative, and the invaders kill them. One of the invaders freaks out and threatens to tell everything. Invaders kill him too and frame him for the murders. Hoodlums think that Carla is also dead, but she is hospitalized in catatonic state.

She wakes from her catatonic state and now she is about get even. Rapers meet their end in various ways: one guy becomes human torch, another one is castrated with knife. Now the town's sheriff and mob lead by the rapers is after her. Mob burns down her house while she is still inside but she manages to escape. She takes care of the last rapist and goes back to New York. She's got one more thing to take care of, her husbands killer...

Not typical Santiago movie. This is pretty serious movie, not your typical over the top action filled Santiago flick. Beginning of the movie is pretty slow, but ones she gets on her revenge rampage things really pick up. Over all pretty good revenge flick.

Review from the BTS Junkie blog:

After SURROGATES I was ready to get back into my series of dirty/heavy movies and NAKED VENGEANCE was one I had kind of stumbled up on by accident. I have never seen I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE and that was a candidate until I read a little more about this movie and it described it as kind of a 80s update of that movie. I can never say no to the 80s so without further ado I jumped in.

The movie starts with a SUPER awesome 80s song (which I cannot find online, must keep searching, need theme song) full of 80s badassness. It plays over a scene of a loving wife/actress, Carla, and husband getting ready for the day. They have their anniversary that night. Later, after dinner, Carla’s husband tries to break up an attempted rape and is murdered in the process. Flash forward to after the funeral, Carla goes to mourn at her parent’s house in the country. There she is harassed by the rednecks in town and the sheriff doesn’t seem to care. It’s not until a group of the drunken fools go up to Carla’s family home, rapes her and kills her parents that law enforcement take notice.

After the incident, Carla seems psychologically destroyed. She lays in her hospital bed silent, eyes fixated into the distance somewhere. But people are dying; specifically, the people involved in her attack are dying. Things escalate into violence and explosions as Carla enacts her vengeance.

There were several elements of this that made it a bit better than regular woman-revenge movies. First, there was a good bit of setup and, while every so slightly cheesy, I really did feel for Carla and her situation. You could really tell she was deeply in love with her husband and his death was extremely painful. I felt frustrated, as she did, with the people in her parent’s town and the lack of interest on the part of the sheriff. These men were very obviously out of control and this could have all been prevented. Also, I really love how it’s a kind of a slasher mystery in the middle. Carla is in bed all PATRICK like but people are still dying. Some of the kills are really great.

That being said, there’s nothing terribly new here. The 80s feel, the setup and the payoff make it worth it all around if you can find a copy. Also, found out via Twitter friends that the director Cirio H. Santiago (who usually makes movies with a more goofy feel) has several other movies I should watch. I didn’t recognize his name but I have seen T.N.T. JACKSON (1974). I just might check out more of his stuff.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    I'm glad to find this blog. Your description of scenes is exactly the copy I saw back in 1983. It was more brutal and frontal nudity. I have the US version (uncut), but still it was not the one I expect. Do you have any contact or link to whom I can get your copy version?
    Thank you

    ReplyDelete