This week for EXPLOITATION ALLEY, I’ve got a good one for you readers. A movie that scared the hell out of me as a kid, and is still pretty intense decades later. I’m talking about Gary Sherman’s 1982 thriller, VICE SQUAD. So, stay away from the corners and watch out for Ramrod, it’s EXPLOITATION ALLEY time!
VICE SQUAD tells the story of Princess (Season Hubley, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK and also one of my all time favorite films: HARDCORE), a single mother and business woman, who turns to prostitution when things get tough. Princess is willing to do pretty much anything with her prospective clients, as long as there’s some decent money involved. When asked if she’s into “golden showers”, she initially declines but when the customer offers her a little bit more money, Princess jumps at the chance. She’s definitely down on her luck.
Soon after Princess, we’re then introduced to what is one of the craziest and most intense villains of all time, Ramrod (Wings Hauser, THE INSIDER, TALES FROM THE HOOD), a brutal as hell pimp that obviously wasn’t hugged enough as a kid because this guy is not a happy camper. Early on in the film, Ramrod finds one of his hookers (played by old school MTV VJ Nina Blackwood) that is hiding from him, and after sweet-talking her into opening the door, the guy beats the living hell out of her and makes something that pretty much lives up to his name..it’s not pretty.
After the prostitute dies, a pissed off cop (Gary Swanson, THE BONE COLLECTOR) and his parter decide that they want to take Ramrod down, and like most movies with insanely bad ideas, they con Princess into helping them out by using her as bait. All goes well, and Ramrod takes the bait, taking Princess back to his place, but when the police bust in to arrest him, the shit hits the fan..so to speak. Usually in movies, this is where the safe feeling sets in, with the villain realizing that he’s been caught, but does Ramrod follow that trend? HELL NO. As the police grab him, Ramrod grabs Princess and slams her head into a cop, drags her across the room and proceeds to hit her in the face with a chair until Swanson’s character and about three other cops rush him and tear him off of her. It’s a pretty intense scene, same with pretty much every scene with Ramrod in it.
With Ramrod arrested (or so she thinks), Princess instantly hits the streets again, which turns out to be a mistake, when Ramrod decides to break out of the cop car, kicking one cop in the face and causing the other to crash the car. This guy is a force to be reckoned with, without a doubt. Now free, Ramrod has a single mission for the rest of the film: finding Princess and getting his revenge.
From there, the film goes into some odd directions, as Princess spends time taking up clients that are downright weird (an older man who has a preference for playing dead, etc…) and out of nowhere, an older Asian man beats the hell out of about three cops when they’re questioning a cheap sleazy motel clerk…it’s definitely an odd part of the film, but that doesn’t last very long. Eventually Ramrod catches up to Princess, and we have a very brutal and intense ending, with the cops desperately trying to get to her before Ramrod has his murderous way with her. The end showdown is probably in my top 20 favorite showdowns between a villain and hero, it’s badass to say the least.
All in all, VICE SQUAD is a mean as hell movie that gives you that gritty exploitation-like feeling that a lot of crime thrillers gave you in early ’80s, a feeling that unfortunately, doesn’t happen much these days. If you’re in the mood for a film that pulls absolutely no punches at all, check this one out, and keep your hangers out of site…