Release Date: 01 Feb 1991
Country of Origin: USA
Runtime: 81 min
Director: Patrick G. Donahue
Writer: Patrick G. Donahue
Starring: Debra Sweaney, Brian Oldfield, Sean P. Donahue, Mike Donahue
IMDb Rating: 4.1 (105 votes)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: N/A
Tromatic Super Heroine Susan Morris has to learn to fend for herself when she decides to escape from the urban jungle. While looking for a charming house in the country, she falls into the clutches of a band of brawny brutes – Mongo and his crew of corporate cretins. A once sweet working girl from the city, Susan is pushed to her limits and becomes a fearsome female warrior. She escapes imprisonment from the gang and, craving revenge, metamorphosizes into a heroic woodland creature. Armed with instruments of steel and skills derived from primitive survival instincts, she repels the evil onslaught. Macho Woman has arrived!
Beavis’s Movie Memories
A few months ago I had the pleasure of viewing They Call Me Macho Woman (also released as Savage Instinct by Bottom Line Studios). It had all of the makings of a great bad movie. Made in the late 80’s / early 90’s, check… Studio backed, check… Oh boy, this should be bad! Well, guess what? It was, but it was also one of the best examples of a good bad film I’ve seen in quite a while. The movie was never boring and offered a chance to riff the action or dialog at just about every turn. The story, though formulaic, was somewhat original and interesting. The movie is about a hot stereotypical 80’s woman (played by Debra Sweaney) who is recently widowed and looks to move to a rural community to start anew. She hitches a ride with her Realtor, Benny, to take a look at a potential property. Along the way they are harassed by a gang of drug makers led by a guy named Mongo (yes, Mongo). They force Benny’s car off the road and Benny quickly escapes the wreckage and runs to “get help,” leaving our heroine to fend off the bad guys by herself. We later learn that Benny was turned into Mongo food by one of Mongo’s henchmen, thus offering closure.
After she is captured, we do have some short, unsettling scenes of forced affection, but they are not nearly as bad or disturbing as they are in other movies of this caliber. Even though you cringe with discomfort while viewing them, they are needed to make her revenge lust all that more believable and gratifying to the viewer. You wouldn’t believe that her revenge toward the gang members were justified had they simply stolen her Blockbuster ID, rented Biodome, and never returned it. Eventually, she escapes using some very unique and hurtful tactics involving nails, knives, and axes. There is a running gag in the film where she jams a small branch in one of the henchmen’s ears and for the rest of the film he runs around yelling “WHAT?”
I would like to back up for a moment and address the “hot stereotypical 80’s woman” comment. The comment doesn’t just represents the main character’s looks, but also what she wears. I am a true child of the 80’s. The music, the movies, and the fashion shaped my fragile and impressionable young mind into what it is today, which may explain a lot, actually. Our heroine is a beautiful, tall blonde(a-la Hudson Leick during her Callisto years) wearing a frill-collared blouse, a sweater with one button buttoned, a skirt, and the best 80’s fashion accessory a woman could have… Bobbysocks and high heels! Find any guy in his mid-forties and ask them how they feel about bobbysocks and high heels and I guarantee it will take quite a few seconds to elicit a response as they slowly gaze skyward with their mouths open in fond remembrance of that oft-missed fad. Let me be clear; these must be short, thin Bobbysocks, not gym socks or leggings, and may extend slightly above the ankle. Frilly-tops are encouraged but not required. Got it? Good. You could also ask any man in his nineties about this fashion fad, as it made an appearance in the film The Wizard of Oz. However, it may be hard to discern whether the staring into space with mouth agape is due solely to fond memories resurfacing, or advanced aging.
Of course, the only 80’s fashion accessory hotter than the Bobbysocks / high heels combo is the legwarmer. Don’t believe me? Watch Flashdance. ‘Nuff said.
In some rare situations, you have to take the good 80’s fashion with the occasional bad 80’s fashion. Case in point: The feminine, plunged neckline top of one of Mongo’s henchmen, Terk. It was a disturbing fashion trend started in the late 70’s and carried over briefly into the 80’s. The 70’s versions of that trend were much more extreme, as demonstrated by the pictures of musicians from the bands Starbuck and Wild Cherry. By the time the 80’s rolled around, the necklines rose a bit, but the shoulder exposure became more pronounced, as evidenced by our henchman Terk.
Bad shirts: 70’s shirt2shirt3 Bad shirts: Terk shirt1
Getting back to the movie… halfway through, she loses her socks! Great! There goes the whole 80’s fashion hottie theme! But be patient. After she escapes and spends the night in a barn, she ditches the 80’s business look for the jeans and tied-off t-shirt look. She then turns her attention to building, sharpening, and holstering the various weapons that will make up her painful revenge slayings. There is one scene that seems to go on for quite a while where she really sharpens the shit out of an axe! After changing clothes, equipping herself, and doing her hair, she proceeds to head back and give Mongo and his gang a generous helping of what for! She works her way through the army of Mongo’s ghouls and eventually slays Mongo himself by cutting off his head while his helmet is nailed to a tree (just watch it, it will make sense).
Early in the film, socks on. After escaping capture, different shoes and NO SOCKS!
As far as bad movies go, I would give this one 4 stars. It’s bad, but funny and a great film to riff on with your friends. Plus the whole retro fashion aspect makes it a great nostalgia piece, especially for us old timers. I was hoping there was a sequel to this movie but it appears that Debra Sweaney only made this one film. According to IMDB, she had a cameo in another crapfest called The Vineyard, but this was her only main starring role. You might be thinking why, if the movie is so bad, I would want to see a sequel? Well, I have a lot of unanswered questions regarding those socks. After she is captured and tied up, she is barefoot. I guess this makes it easier to subdue someone when they’re not wearing shoes. When she does escape, she finds a pair of totally different shoes nearby, but where the hell are the original shoes and socks! I realize there are dozens of plot holes and unresolved issues in this movie, like what happened to the property she and Benny were on their way to look at? Did she make an offer, or did she opt for something a little more urban? But the whole 80’s fashion faux-pa in this film is all I really cared about, and I hope you can see why.