Deborah Twiss plays ‘Jennifer’ a woman on the run who makes her way up to New York City. After being rescued from a gang of thugs, she joins a group of vigilante women, all with shady pasts, working at a strip club. Together they go out and kill rapists and hurt men who hurt women. But it all gets personal when they kill a detective’s partner, believing it was someone else. Now, Detective Perez is gung-ho on destroying this vigilante group, while Jennifer wants nothing more but to have a normal life, something even she knows is now impossible.
I first heard about this film in 2000 when I saw a documentary on the 1997 FantAsia Film Festival. It was my introduction to Jim Van Bebber, Aftermath, the films of Richard Stanley, Subconscious Cruelty, and this one. It was strange, because while the others seemed more genre-based, A Gun For Jennifer seemed much more rooted in the original 70’s exploitation films. After watching this, and the others in the list, I was right, although Van Bebber is also carrying the exploitation torch. More than just another Death Wish knockoff, A Gun For Jennifer deals with revenge in a more personal way, not in the typical disconnected feel of most Hollywood films, where you feel the need to root for the vigilante. This shows how revenge can turn ugly, and can be an addiction as strong as heroin, and can destroy people’s lives, not just for the girls, but also the detective gunning for the girls, who also wants her revenge. The NY locations are very natural and the low-budget nature of the film adds to the vibe.
The acting is very commendable. Deborah Twiss gets top billing, she is very attractive and gives a very strong and layered performance. The rest of the girls are great as well, with Freida Hoops (Jesse) and Veronica Cruz (Priscilla) shining above the rest. Freida in particular was very interesting, being very violent and showing just how vengeance can lead to insanity. I was sad to find out she doesn’t have any more acting credits on IMDB, I would really like to see more of her work. I was also glad that they didn’t stop to the ‘I’m tough so I must be a lesbian’ cliché and made themselves look like real women. Real women who have had their heart broken, but real women nonetheless. I also love the soundtrack. It’s dated as hell but appropriate for the mood the band deserves, and I was very surprised and pleased to see a live performance from my favorite of the riot grrl bands, Tribe 8. So check the movie out, it’s a true exploitation masterpiece with a great script and excellent acting.