Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Centerfold Girls

The Centerfold Girls (1974)

Dir: John Peyser (Hawaii Five-0/C.H.i.P.S./ Charlie's Angels)

IMDB Rating: 5.3 out of 10

What happens when a established television director decides to gather up a collection of lovely women who are willing to get naked on film and  up the anti to cash in on the exploitation film craze? Well, You get The Centerfold Girls. Does this make for a good film? Well, Not really. What we do get is basically three short episodes of murder mystery of sorts with the same Centerfold Killer bringing everything together. I guess the director could not get out of his episodic style of shooting and decided to just chop this flick up into "Chapters" instead of having one fluid film and it doesn't really pan out all that well in the end.
         The Centerfold Girls centers around a man with some serious morals issues as he decides to hunt down a years worth of nude centerfold's from a popular men's magazine and kill them for being unclean and corrupting the minds of young men who purchase such filth. The film opens right away with the killer ditching the body of his first victim on a secluded beach. As he returns to his home we see that the victim was lovely miss January as he cuts her head from the year end  issue of the unnamed men's mag. Then he thumbs through the pages and stops on miss march and the story begins. The young women in question is Jackie who works during the day a s a nurse at a local Hospital in what appears to be L.A., She begins receiving threatening phone calls at work which she seems to brush off as some religious nut as he goes on about wanting to help her and cleanse her of her sinful ways. Jackie leaves town to seek employment at a near by camp/hotel as a on campus nurse there. Upon arrival into the small town she is notified that the head doctor is out of town and will return after the weekend by the doctors receptionist who runs the grounds with her creepy Husband Ed. Jackie decides she will stick around and take a small vacation at her Aunt's nearby cottage. Along the way Jackie meets a young woman named Lisa who says she is waiting for her boyfriend as they are heading north. Jackie being a kind soul offers Lisa a ride and the two hang out at the cottage. After a night of drinking and card games , Lisa's crazy hippie friends decide to crash the place while she is sleeping and Jackie awakes to find the gang raising hell in the living room. At first Jackie is excepting of the situation until the noise gets bothersome and once she decides to lay down the law , the group of hippies get aggressive. Lisa's Boyfriend and the only male in the pack decides to play Charles Manson once Jackie is pissed when she awakes to one of the female friends molesting her in her sleep. When Jackie demands the group leave or she will call the cops it is revealed that Tim has stolen her keys and he attempts to rape Miss March. The assault is briefly halted by Groundskeeper ed showing up unexpected but she plays as if all is well in hopes of getting rid of the crazy druggies. Once the coast is clear the torture and rape continues but Jackie is able to escape. After a chase through the woods Jackie arrives back at the camp and she is offered room and board at the hotel but ed's wife wants her out as soon as morning. Ed takes Jackie to a cabin elsewhere where he tries to put his own moves on the young playmate. When Ed realizes that jackie is too tired to fight back he looses interest as the thrill is gone for him  and he decides to leave her be. Out of nowhere a man enters the cottage and presents himself as a concerned citizen and offers her some consoling,but just as Jackie recognizes his voice as the annonymous caller it is too late as she is offed by a razor across the throat.

The Killers next victim does not travel alone as it is Charlie who is heading to a secluded island cabin for a photo shoot with two other models a Cameraman and two agents. He manages to steal a boat and make his way to the island unnoticed and as the gang fraternizes and take photos he knocks each of the staff members off one by one. First is the very eager Sandy who tried to seduce one of the agents into making her a star but before she can cash in she is thrown from a cliff making her death look like an accident. After Charlie finds her body the staff is obviously uneasy and things get worse from here. As tensions between co workers rise they get knocked off one by one. The photographer is slashed while roaming the outside looking for an signs off foul play after discovering the mysterious second boat and then Agent Perry is stabbed right in front of Charlie just as the older woman agent arrives making her look like the killer, Shortly after Charlie hears screams and her and fellow model Melissa find the agent dead in the shower. As Charlie runs to find a gun and attempt to call authorities she accidentally kills Melissa , shooting her thinking it was the killer. As Charlie flees the house she is quickly nabbed by the killer and is slashed in his standard fashion with the straight razor.The property owner arrives back at the island with a detective and even though there is no sign of anyone else being on the island he feels this case is related to the deaths of Miss January and Miss march as all the victims have been nude models for the same magazine.
This is how I know this film is bogus,Miss May is never the hottest chick in the calendar in real life.
She certainly is in this film.
Yay for Taurus' 
Finally we get the hot chick!

The Final story follows Verna a flight attendant and of course nude model.She is staying at a resort with her friend Jesse. Verna receives some flowers she believes are from her boyfriend in her hotel room but shortly after receiving them she gets a call from the killer who goes once again on a tangent about her being unclean and a temptress of sin. Not thinking too much of it Verna leaves to visit her man while Jesse stays behind and attends a big party where everyone is swinging. While Jesse heads back to her room to freshen up the killer takes her out mistaking her for Verna. When she returns the detective tells her to find a safe place to hide out as he believes she was the intended target as he explains the centerfold theory. She heads out to a surf-side motel to lay low but unfortunately one of Verna's friends gives up her location to the killer posing as Verna's mothers doctor. When Verna arrives at her hiding spot she finds more yellow flowers from the killer who again calls her and mentions he wants to see her buried in yellow. Scared Verna flee's the scene and the killer gives chase until she gets a flat tire and is stranded on the side of the road until two navy men arrive to offer help.All appears fins until the soldiers begin to drink and get flirty, They however do not cross any lines until they realize she is not going to be a easy score and they decide to drug her drink and once it takes effect they drag her into a cheap motel and rape her. In the morning she wakes to the motel manager and the killer in her room as he is now posing as a concerned guest of the motel that had heard everything. he offers to take her to town and get her car towed, The killer plays it cool talking about his wife and family and she buys it until they stop at a gas station where she finds his magazine with the victims  missing heads and her face is circled. He realizes she is on to him and he then holds her hostage at knife point until they get to a deserted area by the side of the road. Here is where the final showdown takes place as she arms herself with a knife he just bought at the gas station and after a struggle Verna manages to stab him to death.

In all honesty this film had allot of potential but sadly falls flat mainly due to the way the film is formatted. If they would have kept it more fluid instead of chopping it into basically three short films where the girls had no relation to each other or knowledge of the killer seeking out centerfolds as opposed to playing it in a very T.V. episodic manor the film would have seemed more complete. Giving up the killer right from the gate is also a tough thing to pull off but it can be done , a perfect example of this is William Lustig's "Maniac". If they would have given more focus on the killer and his motives or what was going through his head this could have been a awesome psychological thriller but instead they focused more on the outside characters and spent most of the time painting everyone surrounding these girls as complete dirt bags. that logic works if you are trying to leave the killers identity up in the air but in this case it comes off as a cheap exploitation gimmick in attempt to cash in on the sleaze fad so popular during the grindhouse era of film. Honestly in this flick you really have no one to root for and once you realize that all the girls are being built up in there own little sub stories just to be killed a you feel you have invested yourself in the characters for nothing and there is no pay off. The film in my opinion could have been great as a crime thriller but the focus on sleaze and half way sleaze attempts in my opinion just make this film forgettable. perhaps that is why i had never heard of this film prior to this viewing. It is just very mid range and has little  to no redeeming qualities. If you are going for shock and sleaze then the director should have went full tilt and upped the gore and everything else, If all the people in this world are gonna be dirt bags then go all  out like "Last House on the Left" or something. This films is not bad don't get me wrong, it has it's moments and all the girls are beautiful but it just seems like a T.V. version of a rape revenge flick without the revenge and plus the nudity. Matter of fact if it were not for the nude scenes , which there are more than plenty here this could have easily been a three part mini series and vehicle for the director to get his own show, because that is exactly how this film feels by the end of it. Not the worst out there but it is boring and not really worth seeking out if you are a fan of exploitation. This one has Lifetime movie of the week written all over it. As far as Exploitation cinema goes you cannot get more middle of the road and safe than this one for sure. As a funny side note , I noticed that he only killed girls that were centerfolds on odd numbered months (January, March,And May as we never see what month Verna is). Even explaining something as simple as that would have helped add depth to the killer and made the film more interesting. I know it's because their faces got cut out because they were just on the other side of the victims but if they would have made something to that I think it could have made him at least a bit more interesting since they really did not fill out his character at all the entire movie. Anyway, Just something that crossed my mind while reviewing this one. This one could have been really good with just a few simple additions, too bad the director wasn't thinking when he made this one.

Fun Factor:5
Overall: 5 out of 10

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