VICE SQUAD - Golden Oldies Finally On DVD
For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Shout! Factory seems to be offering Blu-ray upgrades of as many trashy films as it does forgotten pictures that deserve to be revived. This one is in the former category, as you’ll see from my review, published in the Deseret News on Jan. 29, 1982.
If you want to see a quality film that takes a serious, conscientious look at the underbelly of society and the cops who deal with it on a day-to-day basis go see “Prince of the City.”
“Vice Squad” should have been more squad and less vice. As it is, this picture wallows in the squalor it portrays, with the camera lingering over scenes of sadism and violence so cruel that it is repulsive instead of suspenseful.
What’s most disturbing, however, is that the film begins with a notice that it was made with police cooperation and is a composite of true incidents — delusions of significance that merely serve to affirm its exploitation of the subject matter.
Season Hubley, best remembered as the prostitute who helped George C. Scott search for his daughter in “Hardcore,” is a hooker here, too. Only here, she’s a true, blue (sorry) stereotype — not only does she have a heart of gold, and wit and intelligence, she has a child. All the more to dredge up our sympathies.
When her best friend (Nina Blackwood) is killed by a sadistic, vicious pimp (Wings Hauser, of TV’s “The Young and the Restless”), Hubley is coaxed by an L.A. vice cop (Gary Swanson) to help set the killer up.
She does, and Hauser is captured — but he escapes and spends the rest of the night tracking Hubley down to kill her as well. Needless to say, the cops also spend the night looking for her to protect her.
And thereby hangs a tale — or at least a sleazy 90-minute movie.
The cast is very good, though underdeveloped, and tries hard to redeem the material, but director Gary A. Sherman is as sadistic as Hauser’s character and he tries to pummel the audience with sensationalism.
It almost works.
Though the movie is intent on trying to make serious social comments, it undercuts that hard edge by putting Hubley through a series of comic sexual encounters that come off as ridiculous and seem to belong to another movie.
That other movie might have been better than “Vice Squad.”
It couldn’t have been much worse.