Exploitation film director Lee Frost is finally receiving the credit he deserves for creating some of the best cult films of all time. Tackling assignments of all shapes and sizes, his films always managed to deliver at least as much as their advertisements proclaimed, often moreso. His action films were in the same league as those of Jack Hill, and his sexploitation films would stand easily alongside Russ Meyer...if Meyer were grittier and less fond of quick edits. After directing a number of films for sadistic producer Bob Cresse (HOUSE ON BARE MOUNTAIN, the incredible SCAVENGERS, HOT SPUR, LOVE CAMP 7) and lovable Col. Dave Friedman (THE ANIMAL, THE DEFILERS), his partnership with Wes Bishop produced his largest number of hits throughout the 1970s. THE THING WITH TWO HEADS, CHAIN GANG WOMEN, CHROME AND HOT LEATHER, and DIXIE DYNAMITE are only some of the classic drive-in titles he churned out one after the other. But POLICEWOMEN has often taken the backseat as far as his popular films go, which is surprising, considering its familiar cast and incredible storyline. And based on this film, Frost could direct action scenes as well as anyone!
Red-headed vixen Sondra Currie is Lacy Bond, a female cop tired of the beats she's working and being treated like an "glorified secretary." Proving her skills in karate, car chases, and gunfire, Lacy is given the task of infiltrating a gang of female criminals smuggling gold into the country. Made up of hookers and drug addicts and run by one of the most menacing old cronies on the big screen, Lacy finds no shortage of opportunities to kick some serious ass!
Heat up some greasy popcorn, microwave up a green pizza, and pour yourself a glass of warm Coke: this is drive-in cinema at its best! Open up your windows of your home, let warm summer breezes flow around you, and you should get just the right atmosphere for viewing this awesome flick. Sure, it's nothing like the real thing, but good luck finding a film as action-packed and entertaining as POLICEWOMEN playing at any drive-in near you, if you even have one in your neck of the woods! Even before the opening credits, there's a jailbreak! Jeanne Belle, Ms. TNT JACKSON herself and one of the best blaxploitation actresses on the scene, and Jennifer Brooks (another 70s drive-in fave, from THE WOMAN HUNT and ADULT VERSION OF JEKYLL AND HIDE!) are the two jailbirds flying the coop, and leave it to Ms. Currie to make sure no one else gets out! She single-handedly knocks every other prisoner down as they attempt to flee, in a smorgasbord of punches, kicks, and slaps! You're left breathless before you even know the title of the film! It only gets better from there: you've got Jeanne Bell kicking the racist ass of a nasty Asian hooker, drop-dead gorgeous (and personal favorite) Susan McIver (GIRLS FOR RENT) getting naked for a shower with the boss' muscle-head husband (Frost regular Phil Hoover), an all-girl army beating the shit out of a cop invading their yacht at sea (with chains and pipes!) before Lacy jumps in to save him (!), a high-octane car chase, and tons, tons, tons more action where that came from! Think I'm going for the hard sell? You're right, I can't recommend this movie enough!! And I didn't even mention the fantastic dialogue ("Every police woman I ever met was an absolute shit!"; "I don't give a goddamn shit for NIGGERS!"), the surprising male nudity (Lee Frost was obviously an equal opportunity exploiteer), and the surprise twist regarding Jeanne Bell's character. YOWSA! What a movie!
Not only was Frost an underrated director, both Ms. Currie and Ms. Bell were two of the brightest young stars of the drive-in circuit, yet never received the cult audience of fellow contemporaries Candice Rialson or Pam Grier. Currie has had a lengthy career in mainstream movies and TV and is still working today, while Bell seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth. They perform all of their own stunts, jumping from moving vehicles, throwing their weight into their fight scenes, and wielding weapons like nobody's business! Find two actresses today who would perform such feats for a low-budget flick and I'll give you a million dollars! Also contributing a cameo is drive-in stud William Smith as a karate instructor who underestimates Lacy's black belt skills. Producer Wes Bishop also takes a supporting role as gay henchman Raymond.
For anyone who thinks movies played at the drive-in in fullscreen based on many of their current home video appearances, POLICEWOMEN proves them wrong. The film was obviously composed in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio (the credits are widescreen) and this full-frame transfer, while displaying beautiful color and little, if any, grain, lops off tons of information on the sides and the top and bottom feel cramped, too. Considering Rhino released Jayne Mansfield's Single Room Furnished in its original letterboxed format, I was shocked that they would allow such an obvious error to occur in the mastering process. Some fans would argue that for $9.99 (even less at some outlets), there isn't room for complaining. They haven't seen this transfer then, apparently. Great restoration job, Rhino, but can the full-frame transfers! The audio is very strong, with no signs of wear and tear.
Another rarity with Rhino's Crown-International discs: a trailer! But POLICEWOMEN's trailer is here, selling the movie for the action-packed yarn it really is! After seeing the trailer, you'll wonder yet again how this gem managed to stay hidden for so long. Plenty of karate-kicking women, gun battles, and car chases, and of course the bevy of beautiful women, who WOULDN'T want to see this movie based on the lengthy trailer?!
Despite appearing in full-frame, POLICEWOMEN is a perfect example of the hard-hitting, sex-n-violence appeal of exploitation cinema of the 1970s. They just don't make films like they used to anymore, promising action, boobs, and blood, and delivering in spades. This DVD provides a great time capsule of the drive-in scene and should not be absent from any cult film fan's DVD shelf! (Casey Scott)
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