Season Hubley stars here, in a performance that must have launched thousands of MILF fetishes, as Princess, a Hollywood hooker who looks like a real estate agent. She’s a tough-talking independent worker who don’t need no pimp, and known as one of the best. She fulfills all the sick middle aged freaks’ nasty fantasies. Unfortunately, her colleague Ginger, played by original VJ Nina Blackwood, does need a pimp, and he’s a psychotic bastard called Ramrod. When Ramrod, gloriously overacted by Wings Hauser, beats Ginger to death, Princess goes undercover with the vice squad to catch him. But he’s taken in by a couple of cops who neglect to take him seriously enough, and he escapes to haunt the streets looking for Princess.
What we have here is a pure exploitation movie about the evils of the Hollywood streets, made in Hollywood, and competently lensed by Kubrick’s frequent D.P. John Alcott. This is directed by Gary Sherman, who rode along with real cops in preparation for the film, and loosely based Vice Squad on a true story. You can tell Sherman did some horror films, Raw Meat as well as Dead and Buried (which made my top 20 zombie movie list), because the cruel Ramrod feels like the villain in a slasher flick. Ramrod does not mind torturing people before he kills them, although we don’t see him do much, thankfully, considering what are told he does to Ginger as well as to Sugar Pimp played by Fred “Rerun” Berry. Season Hubley would have made a great scream queen, based on her reaction to seeing Ginger in the morgue. I also wonder why Nina Blackwood didn’t act more, as she does a good job of being emotional.
There is some intentional humor here, the best scene of that type being a fetish Princess encounters when she goes to a rich old guy’s house with his chauffeur, played by the hotel manager from Ghostbusters. I won’t say what that fetish is, in case you haven’t seen this, but it’s hilarious and creepy. The toe sucking and golden showers she gets into earlier in the film may seem meh to filthy internet denizens of today, but I have not seen rule 34 of the old guy’s kink, and I’m not even sure what he was trying to accomplish. That alone should make you want to see Vice Squad. I also enjoyed the back and forth between Princess and head vice cop Walsh (Gary Swanson) at a hot dog stand after Ramrod’s arrest, when they sarcastically act out what dinner table conversation would be like between the two of them if they were a couple.
I do have to wonder if the relationship between the cops and their “regulars,” the people they arrest every night, was something 1982 audiences were as used to seeing as we are now that COPS has shown us that the police deal with the same people every night. I would have liked to know more of Princess’s back story, because she seemed to have looks and brains, plus a precious little daughter, so it would have been nice to know how she got into prostitution. I also thought the movie would be rougher, based on keywords and description, but suggestion of violence is sometimes as effective as showing it, and this is one of those cases. So, other than the world being sicker and sadder today, and the inexplicable fact that movie hookers in the early 80s liked to dress like middle class ladies who were going to a wedding (see also: Doctor Detroit, Night Shift), Vice Squad holds up pretty well, and definitely made me want to keep watching to see what would happen next.
By the way, if you’ve ever wondered why Wings Hauser has been inflicted upon us for so many years, this movie explains why he’s a B grade superstar. He even sings the theme song, apparently in character!
If it never rains in southern California, why are the streets wet in every cop movie filmed there? Do they have streetsweepers hose the place down every night, or is it pee?
A crime thriller rule: never taunt a psycho who’s just been arrested, especially with the knowledge that you set him up, lest he Michael Myers his way out of police custody.