Outrageous, over the top and a purely visceral experience, Bitch Slap is a throwback to the grindhouse pictures of the ’60s and ’70s, the kind of films that featured women dressed in low cut tops and revealing skirts. Just like those films of yesteryear, there is plenty of cleavage in Bitch Slap, but surprisingly little nudity, even during the obligatory lesbian tryst. However, Bitch Slap has its tongue firmly planted in its cheek while still being cleverly constructed. The story cuts back and forth between events happening in the present and those that happened further and further in the past. By this I mean, each flashback occurs farther back in time: two days, two weeks, two months, etc. And with each flashback, more answers are given as to why these three beautiful, scantily clad women are in the middle of the desert, digging in the sand.
Bitch Slap was written and produced by Eric Gruendemann and Rick Jacobson and directed by Jacobson. It was shot for just $200,000 using a high tech Red camera and a lot of green screening. However, you can’t tell by watching that this movie is ultra low budget. The acting is decent, the violence quotient is on par with any mainstream horror movie, and the editing well-paced. Moreover, the story holds your interest and will keep you guessing (and laughing) right up until the end.
The movie stars Julia Voth, Erin Cummings and America Olivo as the three women who park their car next to a run-down trailer home and begin digging for $2 million in diamonds. But is it diamonds that they’re really after? Mysteries about the identities of these women, and what their motives are, gradually come out through the flashbacks.
Cummings is Hel, the leader of the trio and the brains. She can think on her feet, like when she convinces a suspicious deputy that he should turn his car around and drive back into town, and she knows how to handle a big gun. Olivo is Camaro, the muscle and crazy-ass character of the movie; she can and will kill you if she thinks you’ve wronged her. She’s paranoid that the other two are going to cut her out of the heist. Her paranoia may be because of the enormous quantities of drugs she’s popping. And then there is Voth as Trixie, a stripper with a heart of gold. Hel and Trixie have a thing for each other and it was Hel who brought the sweet/naÁ¯ve stripper into the fold.
Cummings and Voth both spoke very highly of their experience on the film. Despite having to endure the high winds of Lancaster, California and the shooting of a gratuitous water fight, both women were thrilled to be involved with Bitch Slap, even eager to participate in the many fight scenes. Zoe Bell, one of the premiere female stunt doubles in the film industry (she was Uma Thurman’s stunt double in the Kill Bill movies and also appeared in Tarantino’s Death Proof), choreographed the fight scenes. An experienced pro like Bell came on board because she loved the script and she loved the filmmakers.
In fact, it seems that the entire filming of this movie was one big love fest. The filmmakers, along with associate producer, Brian Peck, called upon old friends, such as Lucy Lawless, Kevin Sorbo (who both worked on Xena and Hercules with Gruendemann and Jacobson) and Tony Gardner of Alterian Studios, (who has known Peck since Return of the Living Dead) to work on the film as favors, giving Bitch Slap a little muscle, even though it’s a B-grade movie.
It’s easy to understand why the cast and crew seemed to enjoy themselves so much. There was so much enthusiasm and positive energy coming from Jacobson and Peck it’s contagious. And all of the people involved are so pleased thrilled that Bitch Slap is finally finding an audience on DVD. Bitch Slap received a very limited theatrical run this past January, before Fox released it on DVD last week. Jacobson was so proud of the footage that had to be deleted for running time purposes that he hopes that enough fans will buy the movie to warrant a Blu-ray release.
Having watched the film in a theater and at home on DVD, although there are some great additional features on the DVD, including additional footage, commentary tracks by Jacobson, Gruendemann and Peck, as well as the principal cast; and also and the fucking great documentary ”Building A Better B-Movie,” I have to say that I enjoyed seeing the film with an audience much better. This is one film that needs the laughing, the hissing and the yelling that all great B/midnight movies require in order to become cult films. Jacobson mentioned that he was thinking of trying to get Bitch Slap shown in drive-in theaters around the country — a terrific idea.
With the Academy Awards past us and another slew of big-budget, effects-laden films on the horizon, it’s great to sit back and watch a movie like Bitch Slap, a film that was crafted on a minuscule fraction of the Avatar production costs, and have a great time. Bitch Slap has the potential to gain a cult following. I’m one of the converted. Are you willing to get slapped and join me?
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