“Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers” (1988)


Studio: Camp Video
Starring: Jay Richardson, Linnea Quigley, Michelle Bauer, Gunnar Hansen
Directed by: Fred Olen Ray
Rated: Unrated
Running Time: 75 min.

Synopsis: A private eye who is looking for a missing girl ends up running into hookers who worship a chainsaw God.


Chris Woods

Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers is one of those movies that is pure camp and is cheesy as hell, but overall it is a fun entertaining film, which has become a cult classic. I first saw this film on Cinemax back in 1989 soon after it was released. I believe I first read about the film in Fangoria magazine when it came out in 1988 and then finally caught it on cable in ’89 and I thought it was a great fun twisted film. The film features some horror star power, with the likes of Linnea Quigley, Michelle Bauer, and Leatherface himself, Gunnar Hansen and directed by cult film icon, Fred Olen Ray.

The film opens with a very simple scene, but it is very effective. It shows a hooker, Lori (Dawn Wildsmith) getting interrogated by the police. The scene is only showing Lori and we only hear the cops. The way this is shot reminds me of a style from Herschell Gordon Lewis’ openings to some of his films from the 1960’s. The cops ask her questions about an evening she had with one of her customers that ended deadly. They place a chainsaw on the table next to her and ask her is this the tool that she used and Lori replies, “Let me show you.” and starts the chainsaw up. Then the title card comes up and off we go.

The movie is about a private eye, Jack Chandler (Jay Richardson) who is looking for a missing girl named Samantha (Linnea Quigley). He believes that she might be involved with a group of hookers who have been killing their johns by chainsaw. Jack meets with one of the girls, Mercedes (Michelle Bauer, credited as Michelle McLellan) to try to see if he can find Samantha and figure out what is going on with these chainsaw hookers. Jack spots Samantha stripping at the club he is at, but before he can get to her he is drugged by Mercedes and is kidnapped.

Jack is taken to a motel room and is tied to a bed with Mercedes, Samantha, and two other hookers ready to take him out. In walks in the hookers pimp (Gunnar Hansen) and fills Jack in on what they are all up to. He tells him that they are an Egyptian cult worshiping chainsaws or they use chainsaws to cut into the flesh of the sinners and sacrifice them to their God. Now that Jack knows the bizarre situation, how is he going to get out of this crazy chainsaw mess?

Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers is a blast to watch and a must see for all you fans of cult and b-movies. The film is just a fun movie to watch and very bizarre. Normally I dislike comedy in horror films, but this film is one of the exceptions. You all ready know going in that this is not a serious horror film. The story is very interesting and well told. The cast of characters in the film are great including the leads and supporting cast. The movie also has an interesting look to it. The lighting and some of the camera angles remind me of a new wave music video from the 80’s that you would see on MTV’s 120 Minutes.

The movie is a cross between a pulp comic and a Herschell Gordon Lewis film. This would definitely be a H.G. Lewis film if he were making movies in the 80’s. It has that Herschell vibe to it with the comic book blood and gore. Ray had to be influenced by Lewis’ Blood Feast with the Egyptian cult in the film and there is a scene at the end where Jack goes to cult’s temple and it is all decked out in Egyptian style. This part is a total throwback to the classic gore film Blood Feast.

The film also takes elements of 30’s or 40’s pulp comics or detective magazines with the scenes with Jack. Jay Richardson plays an awesome private eye that is sleazing, cocky, a hard drinker, and a ladies’ man. Jack’s character even does a narration throughout the film just like in some classic film noir detective films. Mix these elements with the campy gore and the sexy chainsaw wielding hookers and you got yourself a cult classic.

The music to the film is a big standout, both the score and the songs in the film. Michael Perilstein composes an excellent score that captures the mood of the film perfectly. The songs played throughout the film are great as well. Most of them are rockabilly songs and have an Elvis sound to them. Ray wanted to use an Elvis song in one scene, but could not get the rights, so he found a singer that sounded like him and had him write and record an Elvis style song.

This film also features two legendary scream queens of the 80’s Linnea Quigley and Michelle Bauer, who have been in a number of films together around that time. Linnea I heard of before I saw Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, but this was the first time I was introduced to the lovely Michelle Bauer. I instantly became a fan of her and wanted to see other films featuring the sexy scream queen. As a 16 year old watching this film for the first time and seeing her in nothing but a shower cap and wielding a chainsaw I was sold. One scene to look out for is Linnea and Michelle in a chainsaw battle at the end.

Fred Olen Ray’s Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers is highly recommended and is one of Ray’s best films. It is the perfect mix of camp, comedy, horror, sex, and gore. At the end of the film during the credits, the film promises a sequel called Student Chainsaw Nurses, but this film was never made. Not sure if they were serious when they put this at the end, but probably just did it for a goof. Oh well, at least Ray brought us Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, a great modern day cult classic.