Posted: 04/25/2009

 

The Centerfold Girls

(1974)

by Jef Burnham



Coming to DVD from Dark Sky Films on April 28, 2009.


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The Centerfold Girls boasts enough torture, murder and rape to live up to, if not surpass, its classification as “exploitation.” And I’m sure there is an audience out there for the movie, but I’m afraid I’m not a part of it. I enjoy the occasional exploitation flick, like David Cronenberg’s Fast Company or the blaxploitation classic, Superfly; but The Centerfold Girls is obnoxious, and fails to fulfill the promises of its first third.

It is a fairly standard slasher movie about a serial killer with the insanely puritanical belief that he is helping nude models by slitting their throats and stealing their right shoe. What the filmmakers do with the slasher formula is divide the film into three distinct stories about three different centerfold girls, linked by the killer. The first story features one of the best performances in the movie by Jaime Lyn Bauer as the likeable Jackie. Jackie’s tale is filled with torture and attempted rape. Each subsequently introduced supporting character proves to be more grotesque than the last, and the whole thing is painful with no real sense of motive or direction. The last man who attempts to rape Jackie refuses to when she doesn’t fight back. “When it comes that easy, baby, it ain’t worth it,” he says. That’s classy.

And sadly, Jackie’s is the strongest of the three tales. Despite the indication given by Jackie’s tale, the others have very little exploitative material, which wouldn’t be a bad thing if the movie had something else to offer. The director of photography tries hard to play the movie off as quality cinema by cramming in a dozen canted angles and wide-angle shots into the first five minutes, but even he must have realized it was a lost cause, as the cinematography too falls into a lackluster groove.

Though I usually find something to laugh at in even the most poorly made movies, The Centerfold Girls embodies so much bad will towards humanity that I found it hard to stomach. However, die-hard fans of C-grade horror movies will love this.

The Special Edition DVD from Dark Sky Films features a new retrospective look at the film with actors Andrew Prine, Francine York and Jennifer Ashley and producer Arthur Marks.

Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.



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