Bitch Slap

You shouldn't have to be told what to expect out of a movie called Bitch Slap. The name alone screams "B-movie" about as loudly as Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, but promises sexy ladies instead of prehistoric beasts. What makes a great B-movie is over-the-top blood and gore, explosions at every turn, and dialogue as janky as your first Toyota; all characteristics Bitch Slap lacks. Sure, a few one-liners will pull laughs and the eye candy is the prime cut, but almost nothing stands out as anything truly good, or truly bad. The story centers around three lovely ladies -- the brains, the looks, and the badass -- trying to find a hidden cache of diamonds buried in the desert. As the movie unfolds, we're shown flashbacks chronicling each of the girls' paths that brought them to this point. But you don't care. What you want to know is, "Are there boobs in this movie?" The short answer is yes; the long answer is yes, but only one set and not the ones you spend 109 minutes wanting to see.

Bitch Slap attempts to do something a little differently. Each of the main characters stories are told through flashbacks, but instead of starting at the beginning and working up to the present, it starts at the present and works backwards. An interesting enough idea; the only problem is that it doesn't really work very well. Instead of being well thought out and executed, it just feels like the producers were sitting in a room eating last night's pizza when one of them said, "It'd be cool if it went backwards," through a mouthful of cold cheese. It seems more confusing than was absolutely necessary.

A good 10 minutes of the movie's bloated run-time is filled with slow-motion shots of girls doing stuff the directors think 14-year-olds will find sexy. Each of the three leading ladies has a two-minute sequence of just getting out of a car, and soon after that there's a five-minute water fight involving jugs of water appearing out of nowhere to be hurled onto the heaving bosoms of our heroines. It's fun if that's what you're here for, but if you're looking for true B-movie camp, wet breasts hidden behind frustratingly thick shirts won't do it for you.

The true failure of Bitch Slap is its full-on mediocrity. To succeed in the low-budget realm, a film has to be surprisingly good or shockingly bad; this is neither. The green-screen effects are terrible, but in a charming low-budget sort of way; the dialogue is bad, but not so bad that you feel awkward not only for yourself but for the people saying it; and the acting is neither great nor awful. None of this works to the film's favor. You can't have a successful B-movie if you're audience walks away thinking it was just okay. People don't rent that sort of movie if it's just okay. These movies need to shine in ways that no other movies have, or they need to fall so flatly on their face that they'd be unrecognizable to their own parents. There's no room for B-movie exploitation that is simply "okay."

There are a few pluses to Bitch Slap. Director/co-writer Rick Jacobson and producer/co-writer Eric Gruendemann both worked on the Hercules and Xena series, which means two things. One: these guys know how to shoot a film, so Bitch Slap wound up having an interesting look to it, giving it a bit more production value than most bottom-shelf straight-to-DVD releases. Two: Michael effing Hurst. Hurst played Iolaus on Hercules and appears here as Gage, the antagonist who sports nothing but a tiger thong, a kimono, and Costco amounts of smarm and sarcasm. If he wasn't in this movie, I'd never suggest it to anyone. He shows up, out-acts everyone within a hundred-mile radius of the set, and has a damn good time doing it. No one but him could have pulled that off.

If you're looking for tits, guts, and standard B-movie schlock, you won't be satisfied with Bitch Slap. With fewer people on set knowing how to make a movie, this would have been a delightfully bad film that you could easily rewatch with all of your friends. Unfortunately, the title over-promises and the movie itself fails be fun enough to hold an audience's attention. For a DVD of this caliber, you can't expect too much out of the special features. On Bitch Slap they've included a three-part documentary called "Make a Better B-Movie," which sounds like it would be fun, but sadly is not. Not only is it boring, but clicking "play all" sends you into an hour-and-a-half-long look behind the scenes of a film that doesn't need for than five minutes to get the point across. You're forced to suffer through EVERY actor's not-even-slightly interesting retelling of how they became attached to the movie. Their answers come in two forms: "I went on a casting call and I didn't think I was going to get it but I got it anyway," or, "I worked with the director before and he called me up and I said yes." Every single character, from the top-liners to the tiniest bit parts, every actor has his or her say. The only plus side again is Michael Hurst, who you can tell is just having a blast.

It also comes with two commentaries, both of which are entertaining, albeit not super informative. Commentary one has the two masterminds behind the film, Rick Jacobson and Eric Greundemann, telling tales of how the film was conceived and what it took to get it to the screen. These film makers actually have experience in the low-budget realm and know what they're talking about. If you're interested in getting into low-budget cinema, this might be a worthy listen for you. The other commentary is done by the three leads: Julia Voth, Erin Cummings, and America Olivo. All that can be said is that you'll be entertained when you have this track activated. They aren't the smartest bunch, but they know what movie they made and seem to have a blast poking fun at it and remembering the good times they had on set. You won't be enlightened by anything they have to say, but hearing actors laugh at themselves holds a certain charm.

While Bitch Slap does has some redeeming qualities, good and bad, the film lives most of its life in a purgatory of mediocrity, making it a bad choice for anyone looking for either something great, or something garbage. There are no boobs you care about, there's not enough gore for it to be pleasantly gratuitous, and the story isn't as preposterous as it should have been. Give this a pass, and stick to creature-features for your next slumber party.