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Friday, May 13, 2011

Malibu High (1979) review

A blatant case of false advertising. Not only are none of these people featured on the above poster in the movie, but this image would have you believe the title film is a teen sex comedy! However, there's plenty of sex and lots of UNintentional comedy.


Jill Lansing (Kim Bentley), Stuart Taylor (Kevin), Katie Johnson (Lucy), Phyllis Benson (Miss Bentley), Alex Mann (Tony)

Directed by Irvin Berwick

"You can screw the teachers, but you can't screw the school!"

The Short Version: Tawdry and tasteless flick about a spiteful high school tramp who screws her way to the top of her class becoming a hooker and hitwoman along the way. This amazing, morally repugnant, no budget wonder is a treasure trove of trash for drive in and 42nd Street specialists.

***WARNING! This review contains nudity***

Kim Bentley is a high school hellcat who has no interest in graduating and no tolerance for anyone save for her friend, Lucy. After her boyfriend dumps her for another girl, Kim decides to get 'A's the old fashioned way--by screwing her way to the top. Making money on the side as a hooker, Kim attracts a high dollar clientele who makes her an all new proposition--as a paid assassin!

Irvin Berwick, the director of THE MONSTER OF PIEDRAS BLANCAS (1958) was behind this wholeheartedly hokey, but profusely entertaining chunk of 70s sleaze. While the performances are terrible and the production values are non existent, this poverty row picture is never boring and has one of the scummiest auras of any exploitation movie that spewed onto a theater, or drive in screen during the 1970s. Playing like a reverse version of an 'After School Special' and loaded with sex, nudity and violence, MALIBU HIGH is a checklist of what NOT to do when in high school.

This image sums up Kim perfectly

Jill Lansing's performance as Kim, while not good, is the only one that registers a pulse. Her constant eye rolling and cavalcade of snide remarks are memorable. Kim is a wholly unlikable character and a seriously hateful bitch. While her scenes and dialog exchanges elicit some laughs, there's nothing about her that makes her sympathetic in any way. She insults her mother, seduces her teachers, sells her body, kills various cast members and gets revenge on those she perceives as having wronged her when she is the one in the wrong the entire time!

MALIBU HIGH is simply one of the most mesmerizingly bizarre exploitation movies you're ever likely to see. From the way it's shot, to the ridiculous dialog, the line delivery and the way the plot works itself out. The story of a high school hitwoman is just too wild to pass up and even though this largely hack work from start to finish, it's undeniably entertaining just the same. Even more peculiar is the films title and its poster. Both are one of the most incredibly deceptive cases of false advertising you're likely to come across.

Kim has got it made and she's Hot For Teacher

The music is another case of hilarity. There's recognizable stock tracks throughout (you'll recognize one from KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS), but the most riotously funny is the inclusion of THE PEOPLE'S COURT main theme. Once it hits, you expect to hear Doug Llewelyn to introduce Judge Wapner and both the plaintiff and defendant. Other humorous musical moments are these chintzy game show like stings that follow heated conversations that close out a scene. They're bewilderingly bad and serve this uproariously awful, but summarily sleazy flick all too well.

Kim has the principal sent to her office

It's not a horror movie and it's not a teen sex comedy as its title and marketing would have you believe. There are teens, though, and plenty of sex. There's also dollops of lewdness and aberrant behavior that signals a goldmine for exploitation hounds. Before you decide to flunk out, make sure you take the course in High Trash at MALIBU HIGH.

This review is representative of the BCI DVD


The Vicar of VHS said...

Great review! I got this on one of the Mill Creek sets and was completely caught off guard. As you say, the poster's a total bait-and-switch, but thankfully it's a practical joke that leaves the victim (audience) shaking his head and laughing as if to say, "You got me good!" What it lacks in polish and style it more than makes up for in sheer wackiness, and Kim's journey from ne'er-do-well to prostitute to hired killer keeps you off balance the whole time, wondering what in the hell they'll pull out next. I was won over by Jill Lansing as Kim, and didn't think her performance was all that bad, on an admittedly sliding scale. She had so much attitude and charisma, I would have loved to see her in more wacky movies like this one--but sadly, I think this is her only screen credit.

This is one of those movies that by itself is worth the price of the whole Mill Creek set it's included in. Definitely recommended!

venoms5 said...

Thanks, Vicar. A lot of posters and producers pulled stunts like that back then to get people in the theater. Roger Corman was bad about it in his trailers which sometimes features shots not in the finished movies.

I thought Jill was fine, but only when she was rolling her eyes and mouthing off insults. Great film, though, no doubt.

I assume then the Mill Creek version is the same as the BCI double feature?

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