Monday, March 19, 2018

The Female Bunch (1971)

Based on its title and release year, you’d think The Female Bunch was a low-budget riff on Sam Peckinpah’s violent Western The Wild Bunch (1969). Instead, it’s a wobbly mixture of crime, feminism, revenge, and the group dynamics of a cult-like organization. Although the movie contains many interesting ideas and a handful of intense scenes, it also has the usual problems of movies directed by (or, in this case, co-directed by) Al Adamson. Scenes don’t cut together, sound work is sloppy, and transitions are pathetic. Notwithstanding a prologue, the movie begins with Sandy (Nesa Renet) experiencing man trouble in Vegas. Enter Sandy’s go-go dancer buddy Libby (Regina Carrol), who invites Sandy to join a group of women who live on a desert ranch. Leading the group is whip-cracking Grace (Jennifer Bishop), who has high expectations of loyalty: Sandy’s initiation test involves climbing into a coffin and letting Grace bury her alive. No men are allowed on Grace’s ranch except, for some reason, aging horse wrangler Monti (Lon Chaney Jr.). After establishing this fraught scenario, the movie loses focus during a shapeless second act featuring crime sprees, a druggy lesbian scene, and a debauched trip to Mexico. Toward the end of the picture, the plot snaps back into place and the movie’s level of violence increases dramatically. So while The Female Bunch has thrills, it also bombards the audience with lots of discombobulated nastiness. Although Bishop is suitably fierce, watching Chaney in his last film role is depressing, since he’s bloated and his voice is nearly gone, and this picture doesn’t mark a high point in costar Russ Tamblyn’s career, either.

The Female Bunch: LAME

1 comment:

Unknown said...

From Robert Wise to Al Adamson, Tamblyn was a long, long way from West Side Story.