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Askew Review 15

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(Sub Rosa) 1993. 90 Minutes. Not Rated. Detectives Darleen Paxton and Mac Williamson have a big problem in L.A.   Seems that there's a renegade special forces guy turned white slaver in town and his name is Jack Valentino.  Accordingly, women are turning up missing and it's up to the detectives to find out why.  Unknown to them there's a clock ticking away ruining their chances for every minute they're stumbling through the city desperately grasping for elusive clues.  Once the kidnapped women are through with their 'conditioning', Valentino's boss Delambre (Don Stroud) will be in town for pick up of the goods. Realizing that they might never find the people behind all these disappearances, the detectives decide to ignore their superior's advice to drop the whole thing.  Paxton goes undercover and is picked up by the white slavers.  Now Williamson is on his own and must solve a case that has been eluding him and his partner for quite some time.  
The Flesh Merchant
is an amazing case of exploitative packaging.  It's advertised as a classic of the exploitation genre.  At first glance anyone might be willing to buy into this.  After all it does have Joe Estevez in a cameo and Don Stroud.  Anyone remember when Don Stroud was in good movies?  Me either.  Now, I'm just kidding.  Sure Don used to be a minor mover and shaker in the Hollywood scene, but now he's doing this crap.  And then there's Michelle Bauer.  I love Michelle Bauer.  The woman is gorgeous, funny and one of the original trio of scream queens.  The other two being Brinke Stevens and Linnea Quigley, of course.  She's totally hot and totally wasted in this flick.  I also found it bizarre that she's the dominatrix who trains the new girls.  No, that part's not odd, it's odd that her character name is Kitty Genovese.  Now anyone worth their salt remembers the Kitty Genovese case.  When a young woman was raped and killed in front of an apartment building in New York .  It was stated that many people were within earshot and probably plain view of the crime, yet no one called the police.  This crime was revisited in the Watchmen series by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.  Why in the world would the producers of this film see this as a good idea?  Seems twisted to me. I saw a lot of borrowed things in this film.  There's a scene between two girls being forced to strip that is almost word for word a scene from Last House on the Left.  I actually had to go back and watch the scene and then put in my copy of House on the Left.  Yup!  Stole the damned scene outright. Now don't get me wrong.  Mike Tristano does a wonderful job as an armorer and weapons handler for films.  These are important jobs that lend authenticity to movies.  Maybe Tristano should stick to those things that he does well as opposed to directing which he is not very good at.  I watched this film twice.  The first time I had many distractions and probably watched about half of the entire movie.  I felt that this was unfair at best and decided to give it my full attention the next day.  It's the least I can do for film makers giving us what they feel is their best.  After watching it I realized that I hadn't missed anything.  The Flesh Merchant is dull and lackluster in appearance and story quality.  Checking with it appears that Mr. Tristano hasn't directed in a couple of years, but is in some stage of production in over seven films doing what he does best.  Armorer and weapons handler.  Good for him.  The DVD gives us a crisp, clean print of the film.  In addition there is a commentary that I haven't had the guts to listen to as well as trailers for other Sub Rosa films.  In the land of Sub Rosa there are hits and misses; this one misses by a mile.- Douglas Waltz



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