Monday, February 3, 2014

Malibu High (1979)



This stultifying would-be drama represents drive-in cinema at its most shameless and witless. Telling the story of a high-school girl who descends from bad habits to self-destructive ones after a romantic breakup and the suicide of her father, Malibu High somehow manages to transform its protagonist from a petulant wiseass to an insatiable prostitute and then to a professional killer. While it might seem at first blush that a story this outlandish would be amusing to watch as an example of narrative excess, nothing in Malibu High sustains interest. The story concerns Kim (Jill Lansing), a morose teenager who begins her downfall by sleeping with teachers for better grades. Then she decides to make money by turning tricks for crass pimp Tony (Alex Mann), thereby catching the eye of gangster Lance (Garth Howard). He becomes Kim’s new pimp, but when she kills an abusive client in self-defense, Garth capitalizes on Kim’s bloodlust by hiring her to murder enemies. All of this is quite gruesome and ridiculous, so Malibu High is as unpleasant as it is dull. The acting is dreadful, the pace would make a snail impatient, and the scripting is comically stupid. Furthermore, Malibu High is scored with a bizarre assortment of musical cues and stings that sound like they were lifted from grade-Z cartoons and/or porno movies, while the sex scenes—of which there are many—merely comprise repetitive shots of leading lady Lansing grinding unconvincingly against the bodies of various unsavory men. Plus, at the risk of being indelicate, discovering that the somewhat plain-looking Lansing is the star of the picture will disappoint viewers eager to see more of the model featured on the movie’s outrageously misleading poster. In addition to the bait-and-switch maneuver with the model, the poster reflects a spurious attempt to market Malibu High as a comedy, when in fact it’s a rather dour—and completely unbelievable—cautionary tale.

Malibu High: LAME

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