Written and directed by Doris Wishman, Bad Girls Go To Hell is sensational tittilation of the highest calibre (or lowest, depending on your view). It's often technically incompetent to such a degree that you end up mesmerised by how awful it all is, eventually falling down a wormhole that brings you out the other side as a fan. Easy to ridicule, but hard to hate, this is strange and fascinating stuff.
The presence of the lovely Gigi Darlene in the lead role helps a lot. She's a beautiful woman, whether cleaning the house in her nightdress or performing spontaneous acrobatics (yes, you need to see it to believe it). Her problem is, apparently, that she's so beautiful and sexy that she drives many around her wild with lust. The movie starts off properly after her husband leaves for work. It's not long until Gigi is being assaulted by a neighbour. When he comes to her home to enjoy a second bout of rape she defends herself, killing the rapist in the process. Worried about repercussions, she flees the scene and spends the rest of the movie trying to settle down into a new life, only to be constantly upset by people who end up abusing her in different ways.
If, mathematically, two negatives make a positive then that helps to explain how this movie ends up being so enjoyable. Negatives pile up on negatives until the sheer number of them seem to cause a collapse that forms one new positive.
Wishman may not direct her movie with any skill, but she's also hampered by her own incompetent script. The movie barely scrapes over the 60-minute mark, yet it still feels padded out. Paradoxically, the ridiculousness of the premise also makes it feel far too light in places. Is this central character really such catnip for everyone around her? Are we supposed to feel that she deserves her fate? Is she the bad girl of the title? The answer to all three questions, worryingly enough, is probably yes. None of these things are explored or developed in an interesting way throughout the movie. You just have to assume everything because, well, women being all unashamedly sexy = very, very bad.
There are other people onscreen here, including Charles E. Mazin, Sam Stewart, Gertrude Cross and Alan Feinstein, but the supporting cast could have been made up of store mannequins for all the impact they have. No, this is all about Darlene. She's not a great actress, but she's absolutely the right person for this role, for obvious reasons.
I sat through many scenes of Bad Girls Go To Hell with my mouth agape. It was such a curious, flawed, uptight, moralising piece of nonsense. And once it had finished I knew that I'd happily revisit it one day, thanks to the fact that those qualities saved it from ever being too dull.
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