Thursday, August 15, 2019

VICE SQUAD (1982) Blu-ray review

Vice Squad (1982) d. Gary A. Sherman (USA) (97 min)

Princess (Season Hubley) is a single mom by day… and a Hollywood prostitute by night. After one of her friends (Nina Blackwood) is murdered by a sadistic pimp, Ramrod (Wings Hauser), ruthless cop Tom Walsh (Gary Swanson) blackmails Princess into helping him trap the criminal. When Ramrod escapes police custody, the race is on as to who will find who first. No matter which way Princess turns, Ramrod is coming for her, with Walsh and the entire police force out searching and hoping to stop another tragedy.

Knowingly gritty and sleazy, director Sherman’s (Death Line aka Raw Meat, Dead & Buried) searing examination of life on the L.A. streets manages what few exploitation efforts do: it actually traffics in seedy material without ever glorifying or glamorizing the characters or the environment. While not deep, the characters are realistically portrayed even within their limited range, and the plot hurtles breathlessly from sequence to sequence, covering an impressive amount of ground from police stations to endless street corners to cafes to clubs and more.

As our lead, Hubley (who at the time was married to her Elvis co-star, Kurt Russell) is both vulnerable and strong, a woman clearly doing what needs to be done to get from day to day and provide a better life for her daughter. Over the course of the evening, she turns an impressive number of tricks in an excessively varied number of locales (everything from multiple hotel rooms to a mansion tricked out to be a funeral parlor where one of the most memorable scenes takes place) and always seems to be in motion.

Similarly, Swanson’s cop is clearly worn down and wearied by the violence and degradation he’s seen, but he’s still willing to push back against it in the name of what’s right. (He also throws out the phrase, “Make my day,” to a suspect a full year before Clint Eastwood made it a catchphrase.)

But at the end of the day, it’s former soap opera actor Hauser who is the movie’s main attraction. His indelible performance as the ferocious Ramrod was so impressive, the makers of the quintessential horror clips film Terror in the Aisles (1984) saw fit to include his scenes, deeming his seemingly unstoppable force of evil as terrifying as any maniac with a chainsaw or butcher knife. Ramrod continually eludes capture, mostly because he’s determined to do anything and has no qualms about using torture, intimidation, brute force, and cold-blooded murder to see his desires fulfilled.

With famed cinematographer John Alcott (A Clockwork Orange, The Shining) at his side, Sherman delivers a You-Are-There aesthetic that never flags in energy or intensity, and never feels gratuitous in its violence or sexual subject matter. The cops talk like cops, the hookers talk like hookers, and the sense of verisimilitude is noticed and appreciated. Kudos to Shout! Factory for lavishing an immense amount of care on their Collector’s Editon Blu-ray, packed with supplemental material that allows the creators and performers ample time to discuss their careers in general and the project in specific. Fans will not be disappointed!

Trivia: Wings Hauser also sings the song “Neon Slime” which plays under the opening and closing credits.


NEW 4K scan of the negative

NEW Audio commentary with director Gary Sherman and producer Brian Frankish

Archival audio commentary with director Gary Sherman

NEW “Tracking The Beast” with actor Gary Swanson (58 min)

NEW “Of Poltergeists and Neon Lights” with director Gary Sherman (72 min)

NEW “Hollywood Magic” with producer Brian Frankish (62 min)

NEW “The Roots Of Reality” with actress Beverly Todd (44 min)

NEW “Catching A Killer” with actor Pepe Serna (58 min)

NEW “Princess Driver” with actor Michael Ensign (24 min)

NEW “Hollywood Streetwalking” – A Look at the Locations (12 min)

Theatrical Trailer

Radio Spots

TV Spots

Still Galleries – Poster and Lobby Cards, Publicity Stills, Press Kit

Vice Squad is available now on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory and can be ordered HERE:



  1. Great B movie. Beautifully absurd theme song. Scorsese said it should have been up for Best Picture that year!

    1. That Marty has good taste, doesn't he?

      I had no idea that Hauser sang the theme song. I've had it running through my head ever since!