Cinemax Friday: The Rowdy Girls (2000, directed by Steve Nevius)


When I started watching The Rowdy Girls, I had high hopes for it because it was a western starring two of my favorite actresses, Shannon Tweed and the late Julie Strain.

Unfortunately, that hope vanished as soon as I saw the words “Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz presents.”  Yes, The Rowdy Girls is a Troma film and it begins with the dreaded Troma skyline.  Even among connoisseurs of crappy films, the Troma logo is often considered to be troubled.  Lloyd Kaufman may be one of the most likable and interesting people working in the indie film world and he deserves credit for being a pioneer of sorts but he and his company are also famous for distributing films that are often so bad as to be nearly unwatchable.

Rowdy Girls takes place in 1886.  Shannon Tweed, Julie Strain, and Deanna Brooks play three different but often unclothed women who all end up on the same stagecoach.  Tweed plays Velvet McKeznie, a prostitute who is disguised as a nun because she’s just ripped off one of her clients.  Brooks plays Sarah Foster, who is trying to escape from an arranged marriage.  And finally, Julie Strain plays Mick, the ruthless girlfriend of the outlaw Billy Poke (Daniel Murray), who is about to hold up the stagecoach, kill the local sheriff, and take everyone hostage.  Fortunately, the dead sheriff’s brother is close by so he sets off in pursuit of the outlaws and their hostages.  Throughout it all, a minstrel (Mark Adams) wanders through the film, playing a guitar and singing songs about the women and the old west.  The film also uses old school title cards to inform us of certain plot developments, which would make more sense if the rest of the film was shot in any way like a silent western.

The Rowdy Girls is a cheap Troma production through-and-through but, when compared to some of the other films that Troma has forced on the world, it’s not that bad.  It’s a cheap and abysmally-paced film but, at the same time, it also features Shannon Tweed dressed like a nun and Julie Strain playing an evil, whip wielding outlaw.  This is not a film for anyone looking for a serious or believable western but fans of Shannon Tweed and Julie Strain will get their money’s worth.  Tweed even gets to do a little bit of serious acting, when Velvet explains to Sarah why she’s pretending to be a nun.  As always, Tweed proves herself to be better than her material.

 

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