Review: Bad Girls Go To Hell

DVD. Something Weird

Bad Girls go to Hell is legendary stuff, if only for the title, surely one of the best movie titles ever. For years, it was seen only as a badass trailer, with rare festival screenings helping to build the legend. Now, it’s available to download or buy on DVD.

The film marks infamous director Doris Wishman’s transition from colour nudist romp into the mid-Sixties world of the black and white ‘roughie’, as pioneered by films like Russ Meyer’s Lorna and David Friedman’s The Defilers. Still unable to show explicit sex or full nudity, exploitation filmmakers filled the gaps with violence and a general air of grimness, and Bad Girls go to Hell is no exception.

Gigi Darlene (voluptuous and sexy in a way that only Sixties girls ever were) plays Meg Kalton, a housewife who finds herself in a heap of trouble. After hubby heads to work, she slips into her see-thru negligee and takes the trash out, only to be assaulted by the leering janitor. Although blameless, she is still somehow blackmailed by the janitor into visiting his apartment later on, where he again attempts rape – only for Meg to kill him with a handy ashtray. She flees to New York, hoping to start a new life, but is soon caught up with assorted unsavoury types – a man who offers her a place to stay becomes a belt-weilding sadist after a swig of booze, a flatmate introduces her to the joys of lesbian sex, while another landlady’s husband rapes her. The film ends with a bit of a plot twist that suggests there will be no end to this particular nightmare.

badgirls-hell02As with most of Wishman’s films, Bad Girls go to Hell was shot without sound, and so the camera points pretty much anywhere except at the speaker’s face during dialogue scenes, resulting in a genuinely bizarre feel. There are enough off-kilter camera angles outside the dialogue scenes to suggest that the strange look was at least partly a stylistic choice for Wishman, and it certainly makes the film look interesting.

there’s little nudity in the film – far less than in Wishman’s nudist movies – and the sex is liberally smeared with violence and kink (though pretty tame by modern standards), giving a general atmosphere of sleaze and sordidness that is impressively squalid. A frantic jazz score manages to make even the slower moments seem dramatic, and at 65 minutes, the film dashes through its catalogue of unsavoury acts very efficiently.

Fans of Sixties sleaze will eat this up!