Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (1988) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Sometimes a grade-z tittie film is just a grade-z tittie film, but sometimes one of these genre pictures manages to rise above its origins to become a cult favorite. For Your Height Only is one of our favorite examples of how imagination and a skewed sense of humor can produce some entertainment from a limited budget. Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers is another example.

Combining some bizarre humor with some dangerous stunts involving real chainsaws, this film is rarely forgotten by those who have seen it, and I have to admit that I laughed out loud several times, and actually thought "how did they do that?" a couple other times. Pretty impressive for a low budget flick.

The producer-director, Fred Olen Ray, points out in the commentary that they never thought the film would attract much notice when they made it. It seemed to them at that time to be just another one of the quickies they churned out for the quick bucks, just like all the others in the half dozen per year that they made every year for many years. Ray has 61 films in his IMDb credit as a director, if "credit" is the correct word to use in this case. They have titles like "Bad Girls from Mars" and "Bikini Hoe-Down". He is not the type of guy who is ashamed of making bad movies. Like Lloyd Kaufman over at Troma, he takes pride in the sheer exuberant artlessness of his work. We have reviewed a few of his flicks here and there, like the humorless "straight" softcore, Over the Wire, and the cult film, Evil Toons. People who love b-movies tend to remember Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers as Fred's signature film, and he has actually been asked to present it at several film festivals.

The basic premise is the usual detective noir staple: a private eye is hired to find a missing person, and ends up uncovering all sorts of sinister goings-on in the underbelly of Hollywood. You see, the missing teenage runaway (Linnea Quigley, in tremendous physical condition) has been captured by a cult of chainsaw worshippers. In fact, led by an Egyptian high priest, they worship Anubis, the ancient Egyptian chainsaw god.  


Michelle Bauer does complete full-frontal nudity. Linnea is topless, but body painted, in the dance of the chainsaws. She also appears topless without the paint. Various other women appear topless, including Dawn Wildsmith, Susie Wilson, Esther Elise, and Tricia Davis.
The detective muses on this in his narrative, "sometimes I have to wonder if we let religious freedom go too far in this country,  or maybe we just need tougher immigration laws".

Maybe so. I don't know if any if the naturalization or immigration questionnaires are specifically designed to exclude chainsaw worshippers. I did enjoy their ceremony, however, in which they substituted motor oil for sacramental wine. At one point in the film they had to go out to a mini-mart to get more gas for their chainsaws, and the victim requested a cherry slushee.

By the time our dick gets to the "temple", the cult members are having one of their most important human sacrifices. Mr. Detective ("being a dick is a 24 hour a day job") turns out to be the main sacrifice, and the teenage runaway has been designated to cut out his heart. But she has ... um ... a change of heart ... and decides to turn on the High Priest instead. Linnea then gets into a swordfight of sorts with Michelle Bauer, except they are using live chainsaws instead of swords. On the DVD extras, the women explain that the dueling chainsaws had special rubber hoses spinning around instead of real saw blades, but it sure looked realistic!  

At one point in the ceremony, Linnea actually performed a sexy dance, topless, but covered in body paint, waving around two operating chain saws, with gas fumes swirling around her. Linnea pointed out in the DVD interview that she began this dance by coming out of an Egyptian sarcophagus, and it was necessary for the chainsaws to be on before she came out. She almost passed out from the intensity of the fumes inside the tiny closed area.

The sexy chainsaw dance and the chainsaw duel, together with the acerbic humor of the piece, make it a memorable film well worth watching for us b-movie connoisseurs.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen letterboxed, approximately 1.73:1

  • There is actually a making-of featurette, featuring interviews with stars and the director! This explains the chainsaw stunts, among other things.

  • There are also some jokey segments featuring the director and lots of naked women.

And don't miss all the DVD extras, which are both funny and informative. Director Fred Olen Ray points out, in one of the special feature segments, that he spent much more time on this DVD edition than he actually spent making the crappy movie in the first place. 

The film was shot in two weekends with borrowed equipment that he picked up Friday after the real owners shut down their own filming for the weekend. He had to use every possible minute of time in order to have everything back to the owners by Monday morning. He saved time by getting their permission to film in their offices, so he didn't have to lose any time or hire any people for the purpose of transporting the equipment. In addition, that allowed him to pick up sets for free. He points out that the "Egyptian" cult had some Egyptian artifacts, but also plenty of Mayan, simply because that's what was lying around

Let's see what Steven Frigging Spielberg can do for $58,000 and two weekends with borrowed equipment.

Fred ain't exactly Spielberg, but this is a cool film, and the entire package is a cool DVD.

Tuna's Thoughts

Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (1988) has been sitting on my to-do shelf for months, and I was in the mood for a cult classic today. This Fred Olin Ray film certainly qualifies. Made on a budget of $23k, it was shot with borrowed rented equipment in borrowed studios, and has become Ray's signature work. The title, of course, is a take-off on the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but the film was always intended to be a comedy, and, if there is a moral, it is to practice safe sex, in that the hookers murder men they lure home with their chainsaws. Told in the style of a detective noire thriller, it is full of corny lines, and naked women. So, with a unique premise, a noir style, and lots of naked women, it shouldn't have come as a surprise to Ray that it became enormously popular, and has been translated into several languages.

The story is that of a religous cult, strange even by LA standards, that sacrifices victims to their Egyptian God using sacred chainsaws.   Jack Chandler (Jay RIchardson) is a private eye hired to find Linnea Quigley, who has run away from home. Turns out that she is bent on revenge, as the cult killed her best friend. Chandler ends up in the cult case up to his neck.

IMDB readers score it 4.0 of 10. Clearly, those voting don't see the value of a film that never aspired to greatness, but has become a cult favorite because it entertains far more than most films in the low budget horror/comedy arena.

The Critics Vote

  • no major online reviews

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 4.0. That is technically accurate, of course, but such a humorless way to look at life. 
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My 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. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. 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, Scoop says, "this film is a C+. It has attained deserved cult status among b-movie fans for its outlandish action sequences, its humor, and its bountiful nudity. Definitely recommended for genre fans". Tuna says "This film appeals to those who don't usually like horror films, and is probably a high C+."

Return to the Movie House home page