DVD Review: SLAVE GIRLS FROM BEYOND INFINITY (GRINDHOUSE 3) (1987)

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Review: Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity (Grindhouse 3) / Cert: 18 / Director: Ken Dixon / Screenplay: Ken Dixon / Starring: Elizabeth Cayton, Cindy Beal, Don Scribner / Release Date: January 14th 2013

Look beyond the cleavage, and this isn't a bad little movie. A deep space, textile-challenged redo of Richard Connell's oft-adapted manhunt story The Most Dangerous Game – best version, Hounds of Zaroff (1932) – it sees escapees from a life of bikini-clad serfdom Daria (Cayton) and Tisa (Beal) crash landing on an alien planet, where they fall into the hands of playboy by day, hunter by night Zed (Scribner), who has a quiff, two robots and a jungle fortress with Trump Towers décor.

A broad spoof seems imminent, but in fact writer/director Ken Dixon plays the story relatively straight, his surprisingly joined-up script flagging Zed as an over-privileged sicko and the two girls as plucky (not just bimbos, honest) heroines. Performance-wise, the results are mixed – he elicits a pleasantly hammy and overripe turn from Scribner, but the inexperienced leading ladies have more snappy banter than they know what to do with. (According to IMDb, Cayton 'studied her craft at the New York Academy of Theatrical Arts', but who knows, maybe she majored in mime.)

In terms of production values, though, Dixon gets quite a bang for what were probably minimal bucks. The sets, with their Mayan temple vibe, are nicely thought out, and there's some strong creature design. Zed's metal henchmen are like dustbin versions of the rusty robots in that recent Doctor Who episode, bickering and laser-slicing through the necks of their master's latest victims (he mounts the heads on a trophy wall). Lurking in the jungle are locked-'n'-loaded, Predator-like monsters. When all of these elements come together, the collision of aliens, mechanoids and cuties trying to keep their clothes on gives Slave Girls the feeling of one of those deliciously lurid Paul Naschy creature features.

This new release on the Grindhouse Collection label is no doubt an improvement on previous transfers, but it's still somewhat gloomy and soft-grained, making you long for the zing of a full-scale restoration job on Blu-ray – it would be worth it, as we're talking about a movie of some charm, with an attractively retro pulp SF sensibility. Given what fun it is, it's odd that Slave Girls seems to be the last of only two features that Ken Dixon helmed, the other being the fishy-sounding Erotic Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (1975). Apart from that, his name (a pseudonym perhaps?) is attached to several compilation documentaries, of which one, Famous T&A, appears here as a bonus and offers an hour of footage from assorted did-they-really-make-that Eurocrap movies of various screen sirens getting their kit off. Nonsensical insult alert for a bit where a bloke calls Brigitte Bardot a 'goddamn slut' for refusing to sleep with him and Jane Birkin.

Extras: 'Famous T&A' (1982) Ken Dixon Bonus Film / Full Moon Trailer Park / Stills Gallery / Original Trailer / Reversible sleeve incorporating original artwork /

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