Thursday, April 9, 2009

Cannibal Hookers (1987)

AKA I Will Dance on Your Grave, Volume 3
Directed by Donald Farmer
Starring Annette Munro, Amy Waddell, Sheila Best

"This sorority has a reputation on campus, and I just hope you're able to live up to it."
"I think so. After all, how hard is it to act like a drunken bitch?"

First off, this is not a movie about cannibals. Nor is it about hookers. It's about big hair, and big dreams. To be fair, it's not even a movie at all, really, it's an hour long home-video, part of that first awful wave of horror-themed, shot-on-video junk that cluttered video store shelves in the 80's, a shoddy, eyeball-bruising wave that included sheer lunacy like Boardinghouse (1982), Killing Spree (1987), and 555 (1988). It was in these cut-and-run days that Tennessee-born filmmaker Donald Farmer first forged his empire, crafting no-budget tits n' blood epics like this, Demon Queen (1986), and Scream Dream (1989), and selling the VHS tapes via ads placed in horror-zines like Draculina. Despite a near constant stream of bad press, both for dubious business practices and dubious product, Farmer never stopped believin', and never stopped doling out sleazy SOV garbage. He's still doing it. Cannibal Hookers, however, is still, not surprisingly, his most well known work.

Lobo (Gary Levinson), a mute cannibal maniac, chomps on a chunk of bloody (or perhaps barbequed) meat in a cellar full of chains and weapons. Camilla (Diana Cruz), a blonde woman with severe eyeliner and S&M garb, tells him to prepare for the evening's entertainment.

Cut to: A skinny, tiny-titted chick with teased hair (Sky Nicholas) strolling down Hollywood Boulevard. She walks into a dark, threadbare bar, where she's quickly picked up by a john (Drew Goderis). He brings her to some rathole with a stained mattress, and they commence to get frisky. She excuses herself and comes back topless and armed with a hatchet. And then she bites off his finger and eats it.

Cut to: Hillary (Amy Waddell) and DeeDee (Annette Munro), two big-haired college girls head off to pledge a sorority, Gamma-Zeta-Beta, the "Sleaziest sorority in the state," according to DeeDee. Stephanie (Priscilla Barnes doppelganger Sheila Best), the president of the sorority, tells them that they have to dress up like hookers on Sunset Boulevard and pick up two johns for their initiation. They agree, but once they get outside, DeeDee has second thoughts.

"Maybe a sorority's not such a good idea," she offers. "Couldn't we just find a frat house that needs two little sisters?"
"Little Sisters?" Snorts Hillary. "For your information, being little sisters holds about as much social status as being gang-raped by nazis."

Cut to: Another hooker (Kristie Etzold) picking up a couple idiots with child molester mustaches. She brings them back to some crumbling mansion, and after stripping naked and sloppily humping one of the guys on an ugly checkered couch, she bails so that Lobo can choke the fucker to death.

Then he brings a cup of blood down to the basement, where his vampire queen - or whatever she is - sleeps topless, holding a plastic skull.
She wakes up and gulps the blood down.
"How nice," she hisses. "Breakfast in bed."

Cut to: Hollywood Book and Poster, where Hillary and DeeDee are shopping for hooker outfits. A poster store seems like a dumb place to look for such items, but whatever. It's a good excuse to ogle the awesome merchandise.

Cut to: Saturday night. The girls have their slutty outfits on, and after a pretty bitchin' tour of the strip and all it's X-rated theaters, Stephanie drops them off in the sleazy side of town. She gives them a few pointers ("Avoid vice, and charge extra for blowjobs,") and hands them an address to bring their customers to.

The girls are, naturally, nervous about the prank, but luckily Hillary's boyfriend Bruce (Tommy Carrano) and his goony friends show up. Since Stephanie doesn't know who his friends are, Hillary figures they can just bring Dwight (Matt Borlenghi) and Darrell (Don Trimborn) back.

They all head to the address Stephanie gave them: the crumbling castle/mansion. They are greeted by Lobo and the goth-y cannibal hookers. Hillary and DeeDee have had about as much of this bullshit as they're gonna take, so they bail, taking Darrell with them. Dwight, however, thinks he's hit some sexual jackpot, so he sticks around. Not surprisingly, he ends up with his heart torn out and eaten.

The next morning, Camilla calls Darrell and tells him that Dwight had too much to drink last night, and wants him to come pick him up. Darrell happens to be on his way to have lunch with DeeDee, so he picks her up first, and they zip over to the cannibal house. In a bizarre turn of events, Darrell gets turned into a zombie, and DeeDee ends up chained to wall, her bright yellow Buckwheat shirt torn wide open, the now-ghoulish Darrell inching towards her.

Cut to: actually, I'm leaving a bunch of stuff out, but it's not all that important. The important bit is that Stephanie throws a party for the new sorority sisters, and zombie DeeDee shows up, looking exactly like Courtney Love. So that's pretty funny. She chomps Hillary on the neck, and she turns into a zombie-cannibal girl, too.

How's it all end? Badly. How else?

Considered laughably cheap and amateurish when it was initially released, this hopelessly dated romp now has considerable kitsch appeal. It might even be a low-level classic, at this point. If you weren't there and wonder what 1987 really looked like, this is the perfect time capsule for that ridiculous era. Younger sleaze-beasts will be both pleased and amused to find out that hookers, metal chicks, and sorority girls pretty much dressed the same back then.

Surely, as the days of Aquanet and Casio slip further into time's incinerator, the legend of Cannibal Hookers will only grow in stature. 100 years from now, it'll probably be a holy relic. The inevitable digitally remastered version will surely look amazing.

As to its bizarre alternate title, a fly-by-night distro called Eden snatched up a bunch of these SOV flicks during the early days of DVD and released splotchy, washed-out, budget dupes in a 'series' called I Dance On Your Grave. Other titles included Killing Spree, Farmer's own Savage Vengeance (1993), and Lethal Victims (AKA W.A.R., Women Against Rape, 1987).

is still at it, of course. 2006's Dorm of the Dead amped-up the star power with appearances from Tiffany Shepis and Miss Howard Stern, Andrea Ownbey. In classic Farmer form, it featured blood splashing walls, murky camerawork, and hysterical non-acting. You may scoff at the man's shaky technical expertise, but you do have to marvel at his rock-solid consistency. I have no doubt the 50 year old Farmer will be churning out witless splatter-porn 20 years from now, and it will still look exactly like this. His latest film, Chainsaw Cheerleaders, is currently making the festival rounds. Call me a glutton for punishment, but it looks fuckin' awesome.

As to the hookers themselves, well, they've all moved on. But I'll bet half of them still have the hair.

Availability: Cannibal Hookers is available on DVD.

- Ken McIntyre

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