Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (1988) review

Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers posterDirector: Fred Olen Ray

Starring: Jay Richardson, Linnea Quigley, Gunnar Hansen, Michelle Bauer, Dawn Wildsmith

“I’d stumbled into the middle of an evil, insidious cult of chainsaw worshipping maniacs. I had to wonder if we’d let our religious freedom go too far in this country, or maybe our immigration laws were just too lax.” (Jack, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers)

Fred Olen Ray is something of a cult figure among B-movie fans. He’s been writing, directing and producing low-budget films ever since the ’70s, and what most of them lack in glitz they make up for with gusto.

More often than not, the title of a Fred Olen Ray film is a good indication of what you’re getting, as proven by other notable examples of his work including The Brain Leeches, Bad Girls From Mars, Attack Of The 60 Foot Centerfolds and Dinosaur Island.

So too is the case with Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, his twelfth outing as a director and his first starring ’80s horror ‘scream queen’ Linnea Quigley.

This is her. Naturally, I've had to employ the services of Keith Chegwin to ensure her decency remains intact
This is her. Naturally, I’ve had to employ the services of Keith Chegwin to ensure her decency

This comedy film-noir style movie follows Jack Chandler (Jay Richardson), a private dick hired to investigate the disappearance of a girl called Samantha (Quigley).

The trouble is, unbeknownst to Jack, Samantha’s gotten herself involved in a rather nasty and odd group.

You see, she’s now part of a cult of chainsaw-wielding prostitutes, led by a man referred to in the credits as simply The Stranger (played by Gunnar Hansen, aka Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre).

The members of the cult worship the chainsaw, and happily venture out into the streets, doing their hookerly duty with the aim of ensnaring unwitting chaps and cutting them up into tiny pieces.

No kissing on the mouth, though
No kissing on the mouth, though

Before long Jack is captured by the cult, who plan to perform an ancient Egyptian ritual on him (because ancient Egypt had chainsaws, apparently). Can he get out of there alive and rescue Samantha in the process, or is all not as it seems?

You’re probably getting the feeling that Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers has its tongue wedged firmly in its cheek, and you’d be right.

Surprisingly, it’s genuinely funny, with Jack providing a daft Naked Gun-esque deadpan narration filled with one-liners throughout.

It’s also, as you may imagine, heavy on the nudity. Fred Olen Ray films rarely shy away from the female form, and considering this film’s title it should come as no surprise that it’s one of the most notable examples.

It was at around this stage that Simon realised his condom wouldn't quite provide the sort of protection he was thinking of
It was at around this stage that Simon realised his condom wouldn’t quite provide the necessary degree of protection

Whereas in most slasher films there’s inevitably a bunch of attractive ‘teens’ (usually played by 29-year-olds) who keep their clothes on for the most part then have a 30-second nude scene to titilate its adolescent male audience, here it’s pretty much the opposite, with the hookers instead offering the occasional 30-second clothed scene.

Oddly, despite this it doesn’t feel too exploitatitve. Maybe it’s because there are no llingering shots on certain parts of the anatomy, or (despite being hookers) no real sex scenes as such.

Or maybe it’s because, armed with chainsaws, the women here are still very much in charge: they just prefer to be in charge wearing as little as possible.

Spare a thought for this poor man's Robert De Niro, who barely lasts ten minutes
Spare a thought for this poor man’s Robert De Niro, who barely lasts ten minutes

It goes without saying, mind, that no matter how empowered its women are, you might still want to give it a miss if you plan on watching it with someone who isn’t keen on nudity.

Those not into gore, however, will be fine: all the kills in Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers take place off-camera, and merely seem to be an excuse to cover its topless actresses in gallons of fake blood. Um.. trust me, it’s really not exploitative.

There’s also a bizarre scene in which Linnea Quigley, best known for screaming a lot and getting her kit off in every horror film she appears in, performs what’s known as the ‘Virgin Dance of the Double Chainsaws’ wearing just a thong and body paint.

Okay, so maybe it’s a little bit exploitative.

"What? It is? I wish you'd bloody told me, I have a reputation to uphold. I was Leatherface, for fuck's sake"
“What? It is? I wish you’d bloody told me, I have a reputation to uphold. I was Leatherface, for the love of Christ”

But what it clearly also was, according to the actresses’ interviews in the provided documentaries on the Blu-ray, was a hell of a lot of fun, and that fun shines through as you watch.

This is not a serious horror film: it’s not scary in the slightest and its gore is deliberately comical. It also can’t really be considered a soft porn film, because there are no sex scenes and while there’s plenty of nudity it almost feels incidental by the halfway stage.

What it is, then, is a daft film that knows exactly how daft it is, and relishes in it. It’s the sort of film that will happily have one of its actresses pose for a topless photo shoot before bashing her photographer’s head in with a baseball bat, dumping him in a bath and cutting him up with a chainsaw.

It’s also the sort of film where one of its killer hookers takes the time to put up a plastic sheet over her wall before killing her victim, so she doesn’t get blood over her massive Elvis poster.

Um... you've got a bit of red on you
Um… you’ve got a bit of red on you

And it’s the sort of film where our hero ends with the line: “Samantha’s a nice kid so maybe I’ll let her stay around a while. Besides, she’s got a great set of tits.”

If that offends you, steer clear. This is a film that doesn’t intentionally set out to outrage, but isn’t shy to say what it thinks either, regardless of the reaction.

If you’re willing to accept it as the harmless slice of ’80s cheese it is, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers is best enjoyed in as large a group of like-minded folks as possible.

There isn’t much to it, and it’s clearly just a load of actors having a laugh, but its sense of fun is contagious and it’s definitely a party movie. Just don’t try a drinking game where you drink any time someone appears topless, unless you’re getting bored of your liver.

It’s also worth sadly noting that although its end credits promise a sequel called Student Chainsaw Nurses, this never ended up getting made.  Justice? That word is now dead to me.


Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers is daft enough to warrant inclusion in That Was A Bit Mental’s ‘Proper Mental List’. Click here to see what other similarly bizarre films are reviewed on the site.

Americans can get Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers fairly easily on DVD or Blu-ray.

In the UK it’s only been possible to get hold of it on a DVD that’s long since out of print, but 88 Films is releasing a Blu-ray version next week (of which 88 Films generously provided a screener disc for this review).

As well as making the film look better than it really deserves to, the UK Blu-ray also includes something of a gem for horror fans in the shape of Linnea Quigley’s Horror Workout, a full 60-minute exercise video that was released on VHS in the ’80s. I’ll be reviewing that in the near future.



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