The Centerfold Girls (1974)
I wouldn’t exactly term this as the ideal “date movie.” Especially when practically every male character in the film is either an ass or a pervert. Or in the case of Aldo Ray, both. Prove it you ask? How about stating that Jeremy Slate and Mike Mazurki are the nicest guys in this film told over the course of three segments.
Our pre 1980’s era slasher film stars Andrew Prine chewing the scenery as if he’s seen Andrew Robinson as Scorpio a few times too often. He’s got it in his head that the women who have posed for Centerfold Magazine have to be punished. They’ve gone and exposed their breasts which in turn puts them on his warped hit list. This leads to the first segment of the film which is easily the cruelest.
After disposing of a busty model on a sandy beach, Prine begins to harass the next month’s centerfold star. Our star of the month, becomes the target of obscene phone calls from Prine, runs into a group of wayward hippies who attempt to rape the poor girl after drugging her and when she seeks solace and understanding, she runs right into the waiting arms of a hotel owner, Aldo Ray. She next meets up with Prine who has been trailing her the whole time. Admittedly her demise is one heck of a screen shot.
On to segment two which in itself could have been stretched into a feature film. Prine follows a trio of centerfolds who have been dropped off for a photo shoot on a secluded island with a swank beach house. Included in the segment is Ray Danton as a slimy press agent and Francine York as the Mother Hen/Slave Driver coaxing the young cuties to literally work their tales off. Prine steals one of Mike Mazurki’s boats and drifts over to the island to wreak havoc on the entire group in fine bloody fashion.
It’s at this point that Detective Jeremy Slate is on the scene piecing the crimes together and venturing into the third segment to warn Tiffany Bolling that she’s next on the monthly hit list. Tiffany proves to be a much stronger character than her predecessors and will have to overcome a gang raping at the hands of two travelling sailors before facing off with Mr. Prine.
“I only wanted to help you.” says Prine in his distorted reality as he and Tiffany face off in what is actually an ultra cool setting at the film’s climax. It’s a burned out area of brush and trees that has an apocalyptic look that comes across wonderfully on screen.
As cruel as this film directed by John Peyser may be, it’s rather slick and Andrew Prine really is wonderful as the slimy killer living in a bedroom of white interior designs while wearing nothing but black. Prine may be the villain here but he’s the most interesting character considering the other male actors are more or less pimps, rapists and grouchy boat owners. Watching an interview with Prine on the Dark Sky Films DVD release was fun and he had plenty of amusing stories to relate about the production, playing psychos and working with Ray Danton. He also relates the comical story of the opening victim and the excited actress/stripper who played the part only to be dragged about a sandy beach all day and subsequently buried. All for that 15 minutes of fame.
Another thing I found noticeable is this might be one of those films that influenced a certain director named Tarantino. It’s set up is much like Death Proof with Kurt Russell hunting down women only to find some that are much stronger than he is. Like this film told in three segments, Death Proof is really two films in one culminating in the intended victims turning the tables on their tormentors, Prine and Russell.
Not for every one’s taste but a curio in the history of the low budget slasher film and the amount of nudity that was creeping in to the drive in films and for those who may be a fan of the well known faces slumming within.