Girlfriends (1994) (DVD)

They’re young. They’re in love. They kill men.

So the other day I was carrying a glass aquarium down a narrow flight of stairs when my foot slipped. I immediately tumbled down the stairs to the sound of several bones breaking, including ones I never knew I had before. Just as my head hit the bottom stair with a thud, I saw the aquarium, still in mid-air, descending toward me. It shattered upon impact, cutting numerous gashes in my skin. I barely managed to crawl outside and into the street, only to have a sulfuric acid delivery truck crash right in front me, spilling the noxious liquid all over my broken, bleeding body.

And yet, all of that wasn’t nearly as painful as watching the movie Girlfriends.

I volunteered to review this one simply because the baser instincts kicked in. A movie about sexy lesbians who lure men to their deaths? It sounded like cheesy B-movie fun. Well, I’m going to have to put the baser instincts on probation for a while, because it’s going to take a steady diet of highbrow classics to reaffirm my love of film after seeing just how bad Girlfriends is.

Spunky lesbians Wanda (Nina Angeloff, Bloodletting) and Pearl (Lori Scarlett, Townies) might live in their own house, but they’re trailer trash at heart. Believing their only options for income are either waiting tables or prostitution, which they seem to think comparable professions, these two have come up with another way to make a living—murdering men and taking their money.

After we see the girls waste an unfortunately unhandsome fellow, the tone of the movie changes. Suddenly, it’s about them making some small effort towards fitting in the local lesbian community, and about Pearle’s sudden desire to have a baby. Then there’s a lengthy scene with Wanda and a whiny guy playing some sex games that get way out of hand. Following that, the movie abruptly ends. At only 65 minutes, you’d think there wouldn’t be enough time for a wandering narrative, but wander it does.

Even with the lowest expectations, the movie disappoints. Gore effects are few, and unimpressive. The lead actresses do show a little skin, but if that’s what you’re watching for, try not to blink. The movie takes itself pretty seriously, so the weak attempts at humor are fleeting. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a dramatic examination of a lesbian relationship—which Girlfriends attempts at times—you’ll likely be turned off by the murders and the implied sexiness. The packaging dares to compare Girlfriends favorably to Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and Pink Flamingoes. But it doesn’t come anywhere near to the intensity of John McNaughton’s film or to the oddball wit of John Waters.

The actors don’t help matters much. Almost everyone adopts a hillbilly/white trash accent, which doesn’t lend anyone much respectability. I’m not usually one to criticize movies for having unlikable characters, but I think this is one time where that complaint is warranted. These are pathetic people, and I didn’t like spending an hour and five minutes with them. Wanda is cruel and condescending toward Pearle, who, in turn, is too naive and/or dim-witted for the responsibility she wants to take on.

Just what was the intent of this movie? The sleaze/horror half of the film is ugly and dull, and the relationship drama half is also ugly and dull. If you’re going to go through all the time, expense, and hard work to make a movie, why would you make this movie? Also, who is the target audience here? People who look to The Jerry Springer Show for serious relationship advice?

I’m not through yet. The visual quality on this disc is flat-out terrible. Remember those live-action video bits that were often used as cut scenes in early mid-90s CD-ROM video games? Imagine a whole movie made that way, and you get the idea of how Girlfriends looks. Everything’s all pixel-y, night scenes are grey and grainy, and colors constantly bleed. The 2.0 audio is only a little better, highlighting the repetitive electronic score.

There are a few bonus features here, starting with a featurette in which the actors express how prefer working on film more than on stage. There are two trailers, a dull short film, and a collection of other Tempe DVD trailers.

This is a non-movie.

The Verdict

Skip it and throw yourself down a flight of stairs instead. It won’t hurt as much.

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