Brutal Fury (1993)- * * *1\2
Directed by: Fred Watkins
Starring: Lisa-Gabrielle Greene, Tom Campitelli, Annette Gebron, Jennifer Winder, Karen Eppers, and Thad Dougherty
Something unpleasant is going on at Lincoln High School in Texas. A rapist is on the loose, drugs are rampant, and the teenagers are approaching their mid-40's. Even though Detective Bill Griffin (Campitelli) is investigating, and his new wife Molly (Gebron) is going undercover at the school 21 Jump Street-style, heshers with Iron Maiden and Dio shirts are still overdosing and/or being arrested. What remains of the student body can't abide this. Hence, a group of girls form a "secret sorority" called The Sisterhood and also called The Furies.
After going through a quasi-Satanic initiation ritual, this allows you to dress up in a black bodysuit and ski mask and beat up on pot smokers.
The ringleader of The Furies is one Trudy Jones (Winder). Her second in command is her friend Carol (Eppers). At a Karate class one day, Trudy notes the uncontrollable rage of a redheaded girl named Misty Roberts (Greene) and decides she'd be perfect for The Sisterhood. Misty is unhinged because her father was a fundamentalist preacher who railed against the evils of gym clothes.
When Misty ramps up the revenge, even her fellow Furies decide she's too whackadoo to be in The Sisterhood. Meanwhile, the net is closing in from the crimefighting team of the Griffins. Where you don't want to be is on the receiving end of a high school teen named Misty Roberts's BRUTAL FURY.
Attention Vinegar Syndrome or other specialist Blu-ray labels! Are you out there? Are you reading this? Because, in our ever-so-humble opinion, Brutal Fury is a cult classic-in-waiting. More people need to know about this movie. Heck, ANYBODY needs to know about this movie. It's a gem and a half. To see it is to love it - the only problem is, people need to see it!
It's just a victim of bad timing. If it had come out in the 70's, it would've hit the drive-in circuit and gotten more exposure. If it was directed by Jack Hill, it would be at least as beloved as his Switchblade Sisters (1975). If it had come out in the 80's (even though the film came out in 1993, it has a copyright date of 1988, which makes a lot more sense), it could have been Heathers before Heathers (1989). If it had Martial Arts, it could be like the similarly-themed Kick or Die (1987). But, no, sadly and alas, it got a nothing release from AIP, with another of their classic boxes where the models on the cover are not in the film.
Brutal Fury has it all: fantastic 80's fashions on display, toweringly high hair, a synth-tastic score, amateur and pro-am actors doing their best, and "teenagers" that look like they've got one eye on their pension plan. Nowhere is this more evident than with the evil rapist John Cain (Thad Dougherty) (of course his name is Thad). The idea that this man is supposed to be in high school is just very entertaining in its own right.
The slasheresque flashbacks to Misty's past with her abusive father, her mental breakdowns and her killings are pure gold, as is the classic initiation sequence. Brutal Fury has more in common with regional horror outings like HauntedWeen (1991) or The Night Brings Charlie (1990) than anything else. Although movies like Act of Vengeance (1974) or The Ladies Club (1986) (the latter of which, interestingly, came out in the U.K. as The Sisterhood) are some sort of template.
But there's even more fun to be had, because the "undercover drug dealer in school" subplot is super fun as well. Mix the Sisterhood in with that, and it's a recipe for success.
For a high school student, and especially for a girl, Trudy's voice is quite low. It makes Jodie Foster's voice sound like Alvin and the Chipmunks. No wonder she's the leader. There are a ton of great musical themes and stings on the soundtrack, including one that sounds almost exactly like Children of Bodom's 'Angels Don't Kill'. That would have been an apt theme for the movie had it only come out earlier. Could the COB boys have seen this movie? Well, probably not. But the similarity is definitely there.
There are other musical highlights as well that we won't spoil, but we always love when there's a specially-written theme song that names characters in the movie. Here is no exception, and the end-credits song, "Misty", by Scott Jacob Loehr is both catchy and dramatic. Further bolstering its slasher comparisons, the song isn't a world away from Sleepaway Camp's "Angela's Theme" by Frankie Vinci.
Why Lisa-Gabrielle Greene, who played the fascinating character of Misty, only went on to do several episodes of Wishbone and nothing else is as mysterious as Misty herself. Think about that: Brutal Fury and Wishbone. That's it. The entertainment business sure is a strange place.
Anyway, we could sing the praises of Brutal Fury all day, but let's just end where we began and hope that a Blu-ray comes out sometime in our lifetime. If anything out there is ripe for rediscovery, it's this. Join the Sisterhood of the Traveling Sword and check out Brutal Fury today!
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty