Perhaps I’m spoiled by Arrow’s releases and how gorgeous they look, but when I pop in a Blu-ray of an old exploitation film, I expect at least a decent transfer of the film. For example, when I watched the Arrow Blu-ray for Hired to Kill, I watched a really gorgeous transfer of that craptastic film. Even with the incredible Oliver Reed, the film was barely worth watching, but Arrow’s restoration was beautiful. The same cannot be said about recent Olive Films release of Slasher Video’s Mankillers, the all female homage to The Dirty Dozen from late low budget filmmaking legend David A. Prior.
While Olive did their best with what Slasher made available to them, the transfer appears to be from a poor VHS print (actually from a PAL Beta SP), which may add to its aesthetic for some fans but makes it barely watchable for me… especially when considering that I sat down to watch it on my new 55″ 4K television. The film looks just plain awful.
Sadly, the actual content doesn’t do a whole lot to help the film’s cause. An army of scantily clad women and “wall to wall action” (as one of its taglines claims) can’t even save this exploitation mess. This is a shame, when considering how much fun some of Prior’s other films are. Whereas the Deadly Prey films starring David’s brother Ted is the type of exploitation action that is as endearing as it is bad and Killer Workout (also starring Ted) is a micro-budget slasher classic, Mankillers is never able to come near the level of “so-bad-it’s-good” that other such exploitation films have before and after this 1987 shitshow (something that even his terrible debut shot-on-video horror Sledgehammer is able to somewhat achieve).
Despite being merely an hour post the closing credits, I can’t say I really even remember what happened in the film other than that a group of sociopathic women must band together to fight against something. The only thing I’m certain about that something is that the villains are evil men. The women are all criminals and bad people, who are promised clean records upon completing the mission. The other film I alluded to earlier, Hired to Kill, has some of the same set up and, despite also being a garbage film, is able to handle this aspect of the story far more interestingly. Truth be told, evil as a big fan of exploitation films, I am unable to find much of anything to latch onto here outside of a fun boxcover.
With nothing much in the way of special features, the best thing about the film is that it’s available cheap at Amazon. So, if you’re an exploitation completist, go for it… otherwise, any of Prior’s other films is more fun and worthwhile, or a similarly themed release from the likes of Arrow or Vinegar Syndrome would be guaranteed to look better. May I suggest you grab up a good low budget horror film instead? I mean, it is Halloween season afterall.