Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Although I don’t expect much from a 20-year-old low-budget flick like Hookers, the result disappointed nonetheless.
Source flaws created a consistent concern and seemed awfully heavy for a flick from 1988. I witnessed many instances of specks, blotches, marks, green vertical lines, and other forms of debris. An awful lot of these problems arose throughout the movie, and we occasionally encountered jumps from missing frames.
Colors were another concern. Skin tones tended to seem awfully orange, and the other hues appeared murky and heavy. Blacks were too dense, and shadows demonstrated mediocre delineation at best. Low-light shots were usually rather bland.
Sharpness had issues as well. Some parts of the movie showed decent delineation, but much of the film seemed soft and flat. I also witnessed occasional shots that looked blocky and rough. At times the movie showed reasonable definition, but not often. At least it lacked edge enhancement, but that was pretty much the only positive I could find here. According to the disc’s commentary, the original source footage is missing and this print was the best the producers could do. I appreciate that, but this remained a poor image nonetheless.
If you hope for more from the monaural audio of Hookers, you’ll remain disappointed. Speech was erratic. Some lines appeared reasonably natural, but most varied from dull and flat to harsh and edgy. Effects fell into the same realm, as those elements tended to be screechy and rough.
Music fared no better. The examples of score and songs were tinny and without any life. I can forgive the poor audio more than the weak visuals, but this track still left me cold.
At least Hookers comes with a mix of extras. We open with an audio commentary from writer/director Fred Olen Ray and writer TL Lankford. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. They discuss cast and crew, shooting on a low budget with a very short schedule, sets and locations, the script and their collaboration, and a mix of other connected topics.
I might not like the movie, but I think this commentary provides a lot of fun. Ray dominates the chat and proves consistently informative and entertaining. Both he and Lankford go with a “no holds barred” approach, so don’t worry about self-censorship; when a guy tells us that his wife just got “big fake tits” before the movie’s premiere, you know he’s pretty open. The commentary offers plenty of good notes about the flick and simply turns into a very enjoyable experience.
Next comes a 23-minute and 18-second Making of Featurette. It includes remarks from Ray and actors Linnea Quigley and Michelle Bauer. The show looks at the flick’s origins and path to the screen, cast and crew, budgetary and production constraints, stunts, the movie’s legacy, and general stories from the shoot.
Ray covers so much during his commentary that inevitable repetition occurs here. Nonetheless, we get plenty of fun tales, and the inclusion of the two actors helps. Ray continues to dominate, but Quigley and Bauer throw in more than enough good material to justify their inclusion. Expect an entertaining piece here.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we get a five-minute and eight-second episode of Night Owl Theater. This was a promotional attempt by “Retromedia” and it was created a few years ago. Ray introduces a film and talks about a “free stuff” program discontinued in 2003. It’s insubstantial, but there’s a little skin, and we get to meet Fred’s wife Kim and her “big fake tits”, so it’s worth a look.
Consistently campy and silly, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers seems to work for fans of “drive-in cinema”. Personally, I think the movie tries too hard to be wacky and over the top, as it’s too self-conscious about its genre trappings. The DVD presents consistently poor picture and audio but it offers some nice extras highlighted by an excellent audio commentary. I don’t think much of the movie or its presentation here, but I expect fans will want to check out the DVD if just for that commentary.