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Wayward and uninhibited young runaway Kim has fallen in with a bad crowd. Kim decides to flee said crowd and goes to the west coast to reunite herself with her uptight and neurotic estranged older sister Hilary so she can collect some of the inheritance left behind by their deceased parents. However, evil drug dealer Maury and his flock follow Kim to Hilary's house.Written by
I saw TEENAGE TRAMP at a Cleveland drive-in showing back in the '70s and forgot all about it until recently watching a video revival - it is a rather unsettling look at clashing life styles in America, here depicted violently for the exploitation fans. After all these years it still carries a wallop.
Anton Holden is a journeyman filmmaker, whose three features as director are all decidedly downbeat. Whether this was his world view, happenstance or a result of "taking it out on the audience" syndrome we'll never know, but TRAMP is bleak, indeed.
Fontaine and her extremely unsympathetic (in an underwritten role) boy friend are introduced on the lam -turns out he's a draft dodger and they're headed for the Canadian border. Film's clumsy opening scenes have them getting a ride from a truck driver, who proceeds to fondle and rape Alisha in the front seat while her b.f. sits in the back. His "so what's the big deal" response when she relates the horrible incident to him later sets the tone for the misogynistic exercise to come.
Fontaine is heading back to her estranged sister's home, in search of a grubstake to get them to Canada. Sis, very well played in soap opera acting fashion by top-billed Robin Lane (I wasn't surprised to find in IMDb just now that she indeed was a soap vet, of the estimable "Dark Shadows" series), has become rich as an art dealer. She has an egotistical young artist (Lane is styled as a MILF) who she's backing and sleeping with but who won't commit to marrying her as yet.
All hell breaks loose when Fontaine arrives on Lane's mansion doorstep. A few minutes later she's swimming and diving in the olympic size pool, coming on to sis' boy friend and trying her darnedest to extort cash from Lane. Meanwhile, her dodge-the-draft guy is hiding out in the woods nearby.
Film becomes a harrowing experience with the arrival of Manson-esque cult/gang leader Maury (extremely well played by David Sawn, who also penned the film's story). He resembles the latter-day look of Tim Curry, now that the ROCKY HORROR star has morphed into a suitable middle-aged TV villain (I'm thinking of his recent scary appearances on "Criminal Minds").
Sawn has been tracking Fontaine ever since she split, insisting that she rejoin his hippie gang as his main squeeze and preemo drug dealer. Sawn literally moves into Lane's mansion unannounced, dragging along with him a dozen or more gang members who, bongo drums in tow, start snorting drugs, dancing around, stripping and having sex, and otherwise drive Lane crazy.
Film, which has been bleak right from the outset (when the truck ride was accompanied by doom & gloom road movie visuals) heads straight toward purgatory as Sawn terrorizes both sisters. Not since Peter Collinson's classic THE PENTHOUSE, the ultimate in non-porn house invasion movies, have I seen such a hopeless & helpless depiction of a woman (Suzy Kendall) under the thumb of a ruthless baddie as shown here. In the porn world, I would say Michael Gaunt vs. Kim Pope & Lynn Bishop in THE INTRUSION is still the ultimate.
The most harrowing sequence, slowly paced a la Sam Peckinpah's classic and still controversial Susan George rape scene in STRAW DOGS, has Sawn relentlessly forcing more and more drugged liquor down Lane's throat, trying to kill her and make it look like suicide. That must have been quite a day on the set -looks like Lane's career never recovered. Holden's script from Sawn's story is not very convincing on why the police are never called in to fumigate the place of hippies and other vermin, but as played it is scary cinema.
Final plot twists and action scenes are way over the top, but about as nihilistic as you can get in a nihilistic genre. As the end credits rolled I was literally worn out, and soon brought back to reality thinking that with a lot more care (especially regarding the psychology and characterizations of BOTH boy friends) this could have been a classic.
I was an Alisha Fontaine fan back in the '70s, but had forgotten about her until seeing this showcase again on video. Her high water mark was co-starring in FRENCH QUARTER (widely available on DVD), one of the best indies I ever saw at a drive-in, but completely ignored back when it was new.
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