Long-term readers will remember our Len Kabasinski fandom – he’s one of the stars of low-budget genre filmmaking, and definitely a friend of the site. Bear in mind, though, that we’ve had problems with a few of his movies, and I didn’t exactly love his last one, “Angel of Reckoning”. So, with all that out of the way, I reckon Len has made his best movie to date with “Hellcat’s Revenge”, a tight, fun, sleazy throwback to the biker movie era – with a bit of “Sons of Anarchy” thrown in, I presume (never seen it).
A cold open where we see a woman chased round some empty streets by a few bikers handily illustrates one of the chief problems with low-budget movies – the lack of a closed set. I was all “hey, why doesn’t she get help from that car that’s slowly driving past?” until I realised it was just a car on the street where they were filming and I shouldn’t worry about it. But, this is the only example that springs to mind, which is completely understandable when you’re trying to film on an empty street, at night, in the rain, and need to get your shot quickly.
Anyway. She’s accused of stealing by the extra-sleazy Repo (Mark Kosobucki, one of the main behind-the-scenes guys) and killed, then we discover that she’s the head of the Hellcats, one of this town’s two biker gangs – the others are the Vipers, led by Snake (Kabasinski himself) with Repo one of his main lieutenants. The plot becomes Kat (Lisa Neeld, former Playboy playmate) taking over the Hellcats and trying to figure out who killed her friend and why. There’s a friendly-ish detente with the Vipers, as Kat and Snake have some unspecified history together, so it’s not just all-out war.
I know how difficult it is to find actors when you’ve got no money and never enough time to film, but Kabasinski has done really well here. Along with trusting himself with a larger role (he’s great), he got some great supporting performances from regular Frederick Williams as local mechanic Frank; Adele Crotty, who is presumably a friend of Len’s as she only appears in his movies, as Viper lieutenant Stone; Kosobucki, who you genuinely believe is a wrong ‘un; and Donna Hamblin as tattooist and local gossip merchant Rosie.
When you see a drug deal about to go down, I’d honestly be more impressed if, just once, a movie had one where everyone shook hands, paid for their product and walked away smiling. That would be unusual. But no. Still, it’s a classic scene, and Kabasinski shoots it well. There’s one other classic scene template I wanted to talk about – the strip club. After hoping those ladies were paid well to disrobe, I noticed that Snake really doesn’t seem into it, as a character, and Repo was looking at his phone the entire time a couple of nude women were grinding on him. Was this just the blasé attitude of powerful men or do they realise, it’s 2017 and this sort of thing, while expected of us as the bosses of a biker gang, really ought to be consigned to the history books? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a quiet beer and just talk to these women, find out about them rather than just see their boobs close up?
Or maybe that’s just me. I don’t know. But I feel it’s a reasonable read of the several strip club scenes, and would be an interesting idea for some future biker movie. The reason I even brought this up is it’s Len’s best script, by miles. Often, it seems like he had a title before he had a script – for instance, “Swamp Zombies” pretty much writes itself – but here it feels like something that came out of his fandom and interests, where he tried to give things a little subtext along with delivering on the violence and nudity.
There’s a great denouement in a disused building, some interesting dialogue and a decent final scene. It’s not all perfect (obviously), as some of the fight scenes could either use more skilled performers or slightly tighter editing, but there’s a heck of a lot to like here, and I wouldn’t be opposed to a sequel.
“Hellcat’s Revenge” is just about to have its public world premiere, so if you’re in the area, go along and say hello for me. If not, then KillerWolf Films is a hive of industry at the moment so I’m sure a digital or DVD release will be coming soon.
Rating: thumbs up