Superchick
U.S.A. / 1973
Directed by Ed Forsyth
Starring
Joyce Jillson
Louis Quinn

John Carradine

Color / 95 Minutes / R
Format: DVD (R1 - NTSC)
Rhino Home Video
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Review by
Brian Lindsey
 
4
    4   10 = Highest Rating  
The freewheeling '70s live again in Superchick, a prime example of the cheesy sexploitation T & A flicks cranked out in droves for the then-booming drive-in circuit.
Joyce Jillson* stars as Tara B. True, a hedonistic feminist working as an airline stewardess. Tara, who's got a body built for sin, dresses in a frumpy wig and loose-fitting uniform while on the job to avoid sexual harassment. A prim and proper mouse to her co-workers, when off the company clock it's quite a different story. Once her flight lands she heads for the ladies' room in the terminal to doff the wig and change into sexy, skintight outfits. It seems Tara's got a different man in every port. While on layovers in New York she shacks up with a rich, cultured surgeon; in Miami it's an athletic, studly beach bum; in Los Angeles she makes music with a chart-topping rock singer. She also indulges in the occasional "zipless fuck" (as Erica Jong once called it), banging whatever guy she happens to take a shine to. This libidinous lady isn't coy or deceptive she's honest with her beaus about wanting only fun and sex without any strings attached. (Though she doesn't tell them about each other.) Oh, and Tara likes to smoke pot. She's a Black Belt in karate, too.
If this sounds to you like the recipe for a painfully unfunny, incredibly dated sex comedy then you'd be absolutely right. It's saddled with the customary "bad" exploitation movie baggage awful script, terrible acting, sexy bits that aren't sexy and jokes that aren't funny. But Superchick nonetheless possesses a certain low-rent charm, especially for those viewers who were alive during the early '70s and actually able to recall them (as does your crusty geezer of a critic). Heady days indeed when the only kind of clap you could pick up was curable with a shot or two of penicillin! This free spirited attitude towards sex is virtually gone now, whether by necessity (HIV) or the incessant browbeating of moralistic right-wingers trying to foist their brand of "personal PC" on everyone else. (Dr. Laura, kiss my libertarian-leaning ass!) Actually, the film is rather chaste compared to many of its Nixon-era contemporaries, with a wink-wink-nudge-nudge attitude reminiscent of the "nudie cutie" flicks of a decade earlier. That it was produced by a woman may account for this; I'm certain it was a factor in the unapologetic pro-sex feminism of the heroine. (Which is kind of refreshing.) So if you're looking for sleazy sexploitation then this flick isn't going to do it for you best to look elsewhere.
Now that's not to say there aren't things here to amuse and entertain the cheese lovers among us. You get a parade of early '70s fashions in all their hideous glory, accompanied by a score that wouldn't sound out of place on a TV game show. An ineptly staged karate demonstration is good for a few laughs. (Though capped with a punch line so lame you'll hurl your beer can at the screen. Remember, movies like this are never funny when they're trying to be.) A pair of lackadaisical cops bust a pot party, toking on confiscated doobies to determine the status of the contraband. Dan "Grizzly Adams" Haggerty shows up as a biker tough who, along with his buddies, tries to gangbang Tara. (No, the flick doesn't suddenly lurch into "roughie" territory; Tara's martial arts skills come in handy.) To top things off, B-movie trouper John Carradine (Astro-Zombies, Horror of The Blood Monsters) is again caught slumming for a check in perhaps his most embarrassing scene ever. He appears as "Igor Smith", an elderly, retired horror film actor who places personal ads in Hollywood's underground newspapers in order to pick up young chicks. Tara answers the ad only to find herself trapped in Smith's S & M pleasure dungeon. Watch in dumbstruck amazement as Tara lays out Carradine's stuntman who's 50 pounds heavier and 30 years younger with a couple of badly edited karate moves while ol' John weezes like a tubercular asthmatic on the dubbed-in audio. When Carradine starts pleading "Beat me! Hit me again!", an expression of ecstacy on his craggy face, you may not know whether to laugh or flee the room in abject horror.
* A bit of trivia: During the closing credits, look for the blurb stating "Miss Jillson was doubled for some scenes." This is the only flick I know of in which the lead actress apparently made it a condition of her appearance that such a statement would appear in the credits. (Aside from one brief flash of tit an obvious body double was used.) After a handful of movie and TV roles, Joyce Jillson gave up acting to become a professional astrologer. Among her clients in the '80s: first lady Nancy Reagan!

Rhino, a specialty subsidiary of AOL-Time-Warner, is best known for its extensive music catalog as well as VHS/DVD releases of television shows. Recently the company began issuing a small number of cult films on DVD, such as The Slime People. Like the latter disc, Rhino's edition of Superchick is a very bare bones affair. You get the movie that's it. No extras, not even the trailer. (Which is a shame, because the preview is rather unintentionally funny.) At least the disc retails for under $10... As for the film itself, it's presented in fullframe (1:33.1) format. Video elements used are in exceptionally fine shape, boasting bright, vivid color; it really does justice to the loud '70s-style clothing and decor. The disc's digital mono audio track is also quite good, clear and distortion-free. 6/17/02
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