10 Violent Women (1982)

 Death by High Heel

10-violent-womenTed Mikels, director of a long list of cult classics, including The Doll Squad also directed, wrote, and starred in the film 10 Violent Women–a tale that follows the exploits of a group of women who try working for a honest living but then rapidly turn to a life of crime.

The film begins with the 10 women (I could only actually count eight) working in a mine with a male boss. The women turn on him after his careless use of dynamite, and this female revolt is the first step taken in their criminal life. From the mine, there’s a leap to a robbery at a jewelry shop, and during the robbery, the women steals a priceless scarab ring that belongs to a wealthy sheik. This sets the sheik on the trail of the all-female gang, but in the meantime, the women try to convert their loot to cold cash using the services of Leo the Fence (Ted Mikels).

For anyone who loves camp or who can appreciate a cult classic, 10 Violent Women has a lot to offer for the first third of the film, but then goes downhill from there. The film is basically a prison exploitation tale, but the prison scenes are relatively tame (and often much too badly lit) for anyone to get excited over the action behind bars. And that’s really too bad, because the film, badly acted with a plot that weakens as it progresses, steadily goes downhill after Mikels leaves the set in a rather ignoble–but at least wildly original–fashion.

The very best thing the film has going for it, is the idea that men have all the power, and the only way these women are going to get a chunk of the action is to take it … from the men. The men are the power figures here–the mining boss, the police, the security guard, the jewelry shop owner, the fence and the sheik–all men–and all easy to outwit, beat-up, tie up, etc etc. The strongest, hairiest men turn to blubbery jelly (“Let’s put him out of his misery”) once they fall into the hands of these “violent women.” But the problem with this idea–the subversion of the male power structure by violent women–is that it falls apart once the women end up in an all-female prison, and that’s when the action becomes tedious and dull. I was hoping for another Switchblade Sisters but unfortunately, 10 Violent Women did not maintain its early camp promise. But there are scenes of girl fights, water pistol duels and the world’s worst flamenco dancer, so depending on your interest in such things, you may or may not want to see 10 Violent Women. DVD extras include film commentary from Ted Mikels, a trailer reel and filmography.

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