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B-Movie Review: They Call Me Macho Woman!

They Call Me Macho Woman

Released: January 1, 1991

Run Time: 81 minutes

Genre: Action

Production: Troma Entertainment

FEATURING: Debra Sweaney as Susan Morris
Brian Oldfield as Mongo
Sean P. Donahue as Terk
Mike Donahue as Frankie
Jerry Johnson as Georgie

CREW: Patrick G. Donahue - Director
Lloyd Kaufman - Executive Producer


Synapsis: A young widow on a trip to the backwoods stumbles upon the operation of a gang of drug smugglers. They attempt to kill her in order to keep their operation a secret, but she turns out to be more resourceful than they thought, and starts to turn the tables on them.

Beavis’s Movie Memories

A few years ago I had the pleasure of viewing They Call Me Macho Woman (also released as Savage Instinct by Bottom Line Studios). Recently, I found it on Amazon Prime and if you look hard enough you’ll probably find it on other streaming services. It had all of the makings of a great B-Movie. Made in the late 80’s / early 90’s, check… Studio backed (Troma), check… Oh boy, this should be bad in a good way! Well, guess what? It was (kind of), but it was also one of the best examples of a good B-Movie 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, had enough unique twists and personality to keep it interesting and entertaining. 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 $25 Starbucks Gift Card and used it until it had a zero balance. Eventually, she escapes using some very unique and hurtful tactics involving nails, knives, and axes. There is a running gag in the film after she jams a small branch in one of the henchmen’s ears and for the rest of the film he runs around yelling “WHAT?”

Regarding the “hot stereotypical 80’s woman” comment earlier… The comment doesn’t just represent the main character’s looks, but also what she wears. 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! Ah, the 80’s. I do miss it so.

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 (see image at left). 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.

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 for what seems like 20 minutes!

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).

As far as B-Movies go, I would give this one 4 snarks. It’s 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 film called The Vineyard, but this was her only main starring role.

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