Vice Squad (1982) from Tuna

Vice Squad (1982) was based on real Hollywood vice cases, and was one of the first attempts to capture the feel of real-life police work.

Under the pseudonym of Princess, Season Hubley hooks to support a young daughter. She is a streetwalking outlaw (i.e., she has no pimp), and is soon busted. Meanwhile, her good friend tries to leave the evil nut-case pimp named Ramrod (Wings Hauser), and is beaten to death, her vagina mutilated with a "pimp stick," or folded wire coat hanger. The vice lieutenant coerces Princess into setting up Ramrod in return for her freedom. She does, but Ramrod unfortunately escapes, and the entire Hollywood vice squad must find either him or her before she meets the same fate as her girlfriend.

We then see a realistic view of the life of a hooker, as she services several clients, unaware that Ramrod has escaped. There are also humorous moments, gritty violence and chase scenes, all building up to a heart-throbbing ending sequence.

The film takes place over a single night, and director Gary Sherman chose to do all of the shooting at night. He also chose to avoid hand-held and steadicam shots, preferring to have steady framing. He wanted the subject to be gritty, but the look of the film to be clear, as if in a Life magazine photo of a slum. I am always in favor of films you can actually see and not get seasick, so I applaud this choice.  The lighting and photography were executed to perfection by Kubrick's favorite cinematographer, John Alcott, who won the cinematography Oscar for Barry Lyndon.

A look at his career tells the story:

  1. (8.40) - A Clockwork Orange (1971)
  2. (8.30) - The Shining (1980)
  3. (7.99) - Barry Lyndon (1975)
  4. (6.99) - No Way Out (1987)
  5. (6.97) - Under Fire (1983)
  6. (6.30) - Fort Apache the Bronx (1981)
  7. (6.20) - Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? (1978)
  8. (5.90) - Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984)
  9. (5.84) - The Disappearance (1977)
  10. (5.84) - March or Die (1977)
  11. (5.55) - White Water Summer (1987)
  12. (5.41) - The Beastmaster (1982)
  13. (5.36) - Terror Train (1980)
  14. (5.36) - Triumphs of a Man Called Horse (1982)
  15. (5.36) - Vice Squad (1982)
  16. (5.22) - Miracles (1986)
  17. (4.50) - Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend (1985)

IMDb readers rate Vice Squad quite low, but I thought it was much better than that. In addition to the superlative cinematography, Wings Hauser completely sells the role of Ramrod as an out-of-control psycho. (He also sang the eerie song, Neon Slime, played during the opening sequence.)




Season Hubley shows her bum and one breast.

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews online.

The People Vote ...

  • Domestic gross: $5.5 million
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, I suppose it is a C by our rating system, since this technique has now been done to death, but back in the day, it would have merited a much higher mark.

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