A Gun for Jennifer (1997)

Fierce, violent and nasty.  Todd Morris and Deborah Twyss’ (KICK-ASS) independent film A GUN FOR JENNIFER is a visceral experience.  Lensed in New York City, the film provides a lot of great shots of late 90s NYC from the back alleys to some of the seedier parts of the city.  I have to admit that I went into the film with the idea of the now rampant Joss Whedon flavor of girl-power and was pleasantly surprised by what I found.  Not quite I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, thank goodness, the film is mercifully more chaste and barring an attempted rape spares the viewer from seeing more rapes on screen.  The tagline “Dead men don’t rape” should clue you in that A GUN FOR JENNIFER is a rough ride so buckle up.  

Allison is an Ohio girl fresh off the bus in New York looking for a better life than crumbling steel city Steubenville has to offer.  She is on the run from her husband and her white bread past.  When a couple of thugs drag her in an alley for beating and a rape she is saved by a group of female vigilantes.  She’s as scared of her gun wielding rescuers as she was by her would be rapists.  The five vigilantes, Jessie, Becky, Trish, Grace, and Priscilla are the 42nd Street version of the Powderpuff Girls.  They are from a diverse background with one thing in common; all of them have been victimized by men in their life.  In order to fulfill their mission they work as strippers to find men that need the special kind of justice that they dispense.  Soon the reluctant Allison…now Jennifer because she is choosing a new life for herself…joins the girl gang in their quest for vengeance against the male sex.

The girls work at The Widow’s Den for Annie, a former rape counsellor and feminist activist.  When they aren’t patrolling the streets and alleys they find plenty of men that need killing at work.  They lure men who have crossed them, as in get mad at having shit spilled on them,  to stay after hours and force them strip.  After that they rape one of them with a pool cue driving him to commit suicide.  When the dead kid’s older brother shows up for revenge they shoot him in the face before the police arrive.

They lose even more credibility when they execute a few women left over after they massacre a drug gang.  They say she chose her friends poorly but they don’t even consider she could have been kidnapped or held against her will etc… They even blast a cop they had seen the day before.  They mow him down with a barrage of shots and shoot him in the head.  These young women are more than just feminists, they are extreme and damaged people.  As the movie progresses every man they encounter does nothing to dissuade them of their stance that most men they encounter must die.  In fact I think that every men the vigilantes encounter they kill or sodomize.  Eventually they feed on the media frenzy they generate and when they botch a high profile hit the group starts to splinter forcing Jessie to go off on her own.  

A GUN FOR JENNIFER is one of the grittiest and most nihilistic flicks I’ve ever seen.  It shows the seedy underbelly of a crumbling society and it shows that there is no hope for it.  The ending is an orgy of flaying and gunplay culminating in one of the most gruesome ends imaginable for a rape revenge film and they do it on an independent film’s budget.  The film is well shot, though the German release is a high quality transfer of a somewhat damaged print.  The girl punk soundtrack is quite excellent and establishes the mood of the film nicely.  The acting is mostly okay with a few deliveries falling flat.  One of the more implausible story points is summed up nicely in one of the more awkward lines, “We didn’t want to kill cops but it happened.  There’s nothing that can be done about it now.”  Um…sure there is.  Unfortunately if you kill a cop you get your ass kicked.  There’s a lot of unrealistic collateral damage in A GUN FOR JENNIFER.  

Teen Lust: The Girl Next Door (1979)

THE GIRL NEXT DOOR is the title given to the director’s cut of writer/director/producer James Hong’s TEEN LUST.  Carol, Neely, Hotrod, Perry, and Didi have recently graduated and are deciding what to do with their lives.  Carol’s slutty lush of a mother wants her to marry Dustin, the million dollar trust fund man-child living next door.  He spends most of his time playing with toy airplanes when he isn’t pissing in public or slobbering all over the place.  Her father is drinks from time to time and is fairly lecherous as he always asks Carol to “give daddy a kiss.”

Carol (Kirsten Baker from THE GAS PUMP GIRLS and FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2) and Neely (Lesley Cederquist) join the metropolitan police department’s Explorers program and are assigned to patrol officers who mentor them.  Officers Drury (Robert Gribbin) and Turner (Michael Heit-A.D. on ALICE GOODBODY) certainly intend to teach them a thing or two over summer.  Officer Turner wastes no time in in taking Neely into an abandoned training house and showing her his undercover routine frustrating Drury to no end as he tries to break in so he can teach Carol how he lays down the law.  Afterwards Carol is assigned to vice where she dresses as a prostitute in sting operations.  All along the way she tries to cope with her two timing boyfriend Terry (Perry Lang).

During her stint with the Explorers Carol’s flighty bitch of a mother tells her that her daddy isn’t her father and he’s impotent.  When she asks who her father is she claims to not know because Carol is adopted.  This sends the poor girl into an existential crisis which sends her to the altar even though she finds herself questioning not only who she is but her sexuality as well.  Things spin more and more out of control and culminate in the madcap backyard wedding.  

There are some crazy sequences in THE GIRL NEXT DOOR.  Carol has an ad hoc intervention with her mother that is as funny as it is unsettling.  A conversation with the priest goes horribly awry as he tries to counsel her and shares something with her though she does not comprehend what he is saying at all.  The interactions with her father are seriously disturbing as there are incestuous undertones through out.  Once Carol thinks she is adopted it still seems creepy but ends up being really foul.  James Hong handles the film deftly producing a well constructed somewhat dark sex comedy having his actors play it straight and throwing in some sight gags for good measure.

The Code Red DVD is entitled TEEN LUST: THE GIRL NEXT DOOR.  The film is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen with English mono sound.  Included on the disc is the longer theatrical cut TEEN LUST, an audio commentary by James Hong, and the trailers for TEEN LUST and THE GIRL NEXT DOOR.  The TEEN LUST is recut with more sequences though some dialogue is cut making the story flow less smoothly.  THE GIRL NEXT DOOR cut is much better and the transfer is from a better source.  Surprisingly there are no Code Red trailers included.  You can order TEEN LUST: THE GIRL NEXT DOOR directly from Code Red’s Big Cartel site.