Sometimes a movie just knowing what kind of movie it’s aiming to be goes a long way. I believe that’s the case with Paul Ragsdale and Angelica De Alba’s revenge flick Streets of Vengeance. This is a low budget piece of schlock that is proud to be a low budget piece of schlock. It’s a movie that revels in the lowbrow world of tits and violence with a sly feminist undercurrent to its crass action. Streets of Vengeance isn’t a movie intended for a wide audience. It’s intended for a select few of degenerate movie lovers that get the joke, that understand the exploitations movies of the past with their provocative mixture of sex and violence.
Delawna McKinney stars as Mila Lynn, the hottest porn star in the business today. However, she’s ready to leave behind the world of adult entertainment and move onto her next big thing. Before Mila is able to move on with her life, The Sword, a radicalized group of misogynists, attacks her and leaves her for dead. Not one to take this sitting down, Mila assembles a team of women who won’t back down in the face of gendered violence. The streets will run red with blood for these are, after all, the Streets of Vengeance.
With its neon aesthetic and DIY ethos, Streets of Vengeance knows exactly what it is – B-movie schlock. It features an array of ghastly murders with gore effect overflowing with fake blood. There’s plenty of gratuitous nudity to compliment the growing body count. A few icons of adult films make various cameos here, including Joanna Angel, Sophie Dee, and Ginger Lynn Allen. The filmmaking duo of Ragsdale and De Alba know their film will be considered disreputable and lean into that title as if it were a badge of honor.
What’s most surprising about Streets of Vengeance is its willingness to comment on the current political moment – that’s noteworthy because the film was produced a couple of years ago and remains quite relevant. The misogynistic cult The Sword basically repeat talking points utilized from various Men’s Rights Activists – you know, chauvinistic pigs – and the only thing the film does is push it towards its natural conclusion – violence. My only wish is that the filmmakers pushed this further, employing more of an over-the-top barrage of insults that one might find out of a John Waters film. The dehumanizing efforts of Men’s Rights Activists need to be dragged further and further into the mud. That’s what works so well in Streets of Vengeance: it’s the MRAs who are treated like disreputable scum and not the sex workers pushed to the brink.
Streets of Vengeance was obviously made on a dime but that’s not an obstacle for Ragsdale and De Alba to overcome because they use their shoestring budget as part of the film’s ragged, punk rock aesthetic. The film also employs some rather absurd bookends featuring a scantily clad television host, as if the movie is the feature for a low budget public access show in the vein of Elvira and others. It helps present a movie that has no inclination to take itself seriously, and that’s why it works as well as it does. The film may be a no budget piece of schlock but it’s never boring even if it’s not always as shocking as it thinks itself.
My only wish is that Streets of Vengeance had a bit more wit in its script, a bit more acerbic wordplay. That’s a minor gripe for an exploitation homage that captures the spirit of the movies that inspired it. Schlock or not, Streets of Vengeance knows what it is and that goes a long way.