Monday, January 5, 2009

Malibu High (Irvin Berwick, 1979)

Strange shifts in tone and bizarre music cues are just two of the many things that perplexed, and, of course, aroused me as I sat in uncomfortable awe of Malibu High, playful teen comedy by day, gritty film noir by night Actually, there's very little clowning around going on during the day, as everything about this film is slightly off somehow. The day scenes, the nights scenes, there's definitely something shady going on here. My first thought was that director Irv Berwick was totally incompetent as a filmmaker, and that he had no idea what he was doing. However, after the shapely lead actress decided to don a barely-there mini-skirt in order to seduce her history teacher, I slowly began to realize that this film isn't the slightest bit interested in witty dialogue, production values, or even second-rate camera angles. What the producers who made this are interested in is exploiting their sleazy premise to the fullest extent of the law. And in that regard, I have to commend Irv and his diligent crew. They may have not been allowed to show any pubic hair or that wonderful space that separates most people's hindquarters in two, but they made sure the protagonist's unique breasts where exposed at all times. Now, whether the comedy was intentional or unintentional, it's hard to say; the fact that the camera seems to get knocked over twice during the disco scene has me believing it's the former. Either way, the film is extremely funny is places. For example, the use of that goofy electronic music that accompanies the SCTV logo on Second City Television to punctuate each scene was awkwardly brilliant, and the way Tammy Taylor managed to refer to her primary romantic rival as "piece of shit" four separate times in the span of ten seconds had me grinning like someone who had just heard a feisty young woman say "shit" a lot.

I'll admit, these examples aren't exactly evidence that the film is funny on purpose, but there's no denying their inspired stupidity.

The film's plot is a real potboiler. However, since I don't know what "potboiler" means, I'm gonna shift gears and say that the plot is a sordid heap just waiting for me to add my eyes to the pile.

High school senior Kim Bentley (Jill Lansing) is sick of being a cast aside by feather-haired assholes in bell-bottoms (she won't fuck them), fed up with failing grades (she's as dumb as, oh, let's say, a box of dirt), and is tired of being driven around by her best friend (she's got no bread for her own wheels).

One night, while getting high on a friend's couch, Kim suddenly decides that she's gonna start utilizing her dust-covered vagina to get ahead in life.

Gaining instant employment from a low-level pimp named Tony (Alex Mann), the newfangled harlot immediately finds herself engaging in unaffectionate sexual intercourse in a van at a construction site for forty percent of profits (the line-up I saw to poke her pussy was at least six guys deep). This paltry sum irks Kim (after all, she's the one being probed by schlong after schlong of strange uncircumcised dick, not Tony), so she dumps him and joins up with a high-level pimp named Lance (Garth Howard). The extra money she earns is great, only problem is that Lance wants Kim to kill people.

Yeah, that's right, she's not just a prostitute, she's also an assassin on the side. And to think, all she originally wanted to do was to make Kevin (Stuart Taylor), her ex-boyfriend, jealous, piss off his current girlfriend, Annette (Tammy Taylor), and graduate high school.

When she's not busy killing kinky whoremongers with icepicks and shooting pimps in parking garages, Kim is luring her history (John Grant) and physics (Ken Layton) teachers to High Point, where she exchanges outdoor sex for indoor straight A's.

In charge of fleshing out this shapely sociopath is the plainspoken Jill Lansing. The fact that Malibu High was the only movie she ever appeared in gives her performance an added sense of urgency. In that, she's got a careers worth of debasement to fit into just one movie. Does she manage to pull it off? Yes and no. The director doesn't know how to shoot a sex scene (too much heavy petting, not enough humping).

This lack of talent behind the camera severely hampers Jill's diligent horizontal efforts; as all we end up seeing most of the time is the sweat glistening on the hairy backs of the guys not thrusting toward her (like I said, not enough humping).

On the other hand, Jill is one of the most unscrupulous femme fatales ever sully the silver screen and shines bright during her many seduction scenes. Oh, sure, she doesn't take off her panties, but she is topless for such an insane amount of time, that I've memorized the distinct patterns on her first-class nipples. Seriously, she does everything except pump gas and suppress the middle class without a top on. And her all over the place tan lines were exquisite.

If what I've typed so far about this marvelous movie hasn't got you interested in seeing it, then at least fast forward to the final scene. I mean, the foot chase on the beach (the one set to the funky strains of the theme from The People's Court) needs to be seen by film fans of every stripe.



  1. Wow...impressive.

    Sounds even more sleazy then Death Race 2000. I thought killing old people was bad...this sounds even sleazier.

  2. Yeah, you should check it out. Exploitation at its finest.

  3. I saw this last month, I loved every minute of its sleaziness. The sleazier it got the happier I was. ^_^

  4. Is there any place that sells the Malibu High (1979) merchandise? I can't seem to find a site anywhere. I'd live to get a t-shirt of the (misleading!), Poster Artwork of this Classick Film!

  5. Malibu High merchandise?!? Now there's a sensible idea. I would to able to walk into a store one day and pick myself up a Malibu High pencil case.

  6. saw this last night for first time, LOVED IT! Classic 70's stuff, Jill Lansing was majorly hot, this is a must-watch if you like 70's drive-in sleeze, thanks for the great review and pics!

  7. Malibu High is hands down my fave flick out of all the trashy sleaze on those sensibly-priced Drive-In Cult Classics collections.

  8. Malibu High (1979) is now available on HD Blu-ray. It was released by Vinegar Syndrome a few months back and now available on Amazon.