Review: Grindhouse Collection 1 - Cannibal Women In The Avocado Jungle Of Death / Cert: 15 / Director: J.F. Lawton / Screenplay: J.F. Lawton / Starring: Shannon Tweed, Bill Maher, Karen M. Waldron, Adrienne Barbeau, Brett Stimley / Release Date: Out Now
This light-hearted romp from 1989 kicks off with a crisis – a national shortage of avocados, or so the US government claims. According to them, supply is dwindling as a result of the ever more aggressive behaviour of one particular tribe who live in the “Avocado Jungle” (located in an uncharted part of sunny California), The Piranha Women – cannibals who feast upon men, and who seem to be growing hungrier by the day.
The government wants to relocate these troublesome man-eaters to some luxury condos in Malibu, and stuck with the thankless task of putting this proposition to them is Dr. Margo Hunt (Tweed), a liberal feminist of impeccable credentials. On goes the safari suit and off she drives, accompanied by a ditzy, bikini-clad coed called Bunny (Waldron) who has taken to studying feminism as a change from her Home Economics classes.
Reaching the edge of the jungle, they recruit a guide, Margo's old flame Jim (Maher), and with him leading the way they soon fall into the tribe's clutches, with at least one of them awaiting death by cooking pot.
It's all unashamedly joky and facetious, but also very likeable. The look of the film is rough and ready, with the jungle very scrubby in places and some of the Piranha Women rather heavy in the stern under their leather loinclothes (although perhaps that's to be expected with such a high protein diet). Even the biggest fans of this film would have to admit that director J.F. Lawton is unlikely to go down in history as one of cinema's great visual stylists. That said, he's a very capable screenwriter (as he subsequently demonstrated by penning such perennial favourites as Pretty Woman and Under Siege), and there are some surprisingly sophisticated one-liners lurking among the slapstick. True, the constant ribbing at feminists now seems very dated, but it's never mean-spirited, and anyway the girls give as good as they get.
Shannon Tweed looks statuesque in crisp, tight khaki and keeps a straight face, and that's all you could really ask of her. Maher gets a bit too much screen time, but the most showy part goes to Waldron (who was on a roll at this stage of her career, having just come off Return of the Killer Tomatoes!). Not the best cult movie ever, but still a source of guilty pleasure. And that title's a work of art in itself.
Extras: Trailers / Reversible sleeve / Original aspect ratio