Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (1988)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a freelance ghostwriter of personal memoirs and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit https://www.jennuptonwriter.com or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn

There’s a moment in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood where Eddie, while watching the debut of Plan 9 from Outer Space thinks “This is the one I’ll be remembered for.” It’s almost certain Ed never had that thought. Similarly, Fred Olen Ray probably never thought his little horror comedy shot over 5 days on a series of weekends using equipment rented for another film would be “the one.” If you’ve never seen a Fred Olen Ray film, or you’re about to induct a new virgin into your own basement B-movie cult, this is the one to watch. Often imitated but never duplicated, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers is Ray’s self-professed “message film” about the dangers of heading to a hotel with a lady of the night. “Because they might be a chainsaw-wielding maniac!” 

Here, the hookers in question are members of a chainsaw-worshipping cult who dismember their clients in service of their gods and master Gunnar Hansen of Texas Chainsaw Massacre fame. Elvis-loving Mercedes (Michelle Bauer) delivers the most memorable kill totally nude in a shower cap while bloody Halloween shop rubber prop body parts fly around.

Although the dismembered body parts were fake, the chainsaws were real. Even when the chains were removed, Ray insisted on extreme caution from everyone on the slippery, blood-soaked set because “Anybody who is not scared shitless of a moving chainsaw blade is a fool.” 

Jay Richardson plays film noir prototype private detective Jack Chandler who stumbles upon the cult while searching for a missing runaway named Samantha (Linnea Quigley) amongst the dive bars and strip clubs of 1980s pre-“cleaned up” Hollywood. In the end, Sam and Jack defeat the cult while chaos in the temple erupts around them, while every single crew member runs through the frame screaming.

The film is silly and fun and utterly harmless despite what the British Board of Film Censors would have you believe. Yes, they banned both the poster and the film itself for a time during the “Video Nasties” panic. Here we are, 35 years later, and police have arrested not a single British prostitute for involvement with an underground chainsaw cult. Come to think of it, that brothel I lived next door to for a while in London was pretty suspicious…

You can watch this on Tubi.

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