Blu-Ray – Malibu High

Malibu High is a strange high school movie from 1979. The protagonist has been dumped by her boyfriend and her grades are slipping. To fix her marks, she starts having sex with some of her teachers. Gradually she falls into the world of prostitution and drugs…so far, so plausible… and becomes a hired killer.

The film was made on a budget of nothing, by a director (Irvin Berwick) who started out working under William Castle but later directed seven exploitation films over the space of 20 years, with the one before this being Hitchhike to Hell. Malibu High is probably his best-known. Berwick worked on loads of 1950s B-movies in various capacities, and also ran his own production company for awhile.

Jill Lansing, who plays the lead character, Kim, never had another film role. She’s still on the convention circuit though, thanks to this one very weird movie. The film featured loads of gratuitous nudity and sleazy scenes, and some terrible acting. The direction is out there as well—the poster leads you to expect a sex comedy like Porky’s or perhaps as Russ Meyer-esque sexploitation film, but while a little of that is on offer the rest is about a teenage girl’s descent into the crime underworld of… Malibu. Lansing is perfectly fine in the role, and the film has a sense of humour.

It fits into the seedier aspect of Hollywood and Southern California in the 1970s, where teenage prostitution and paedophilia were rife, and a dangerous street scene was easy to find. Bret Easton Ellis’s Less Than Zero was another reflection this particular time and place.

At the helm was 19-year-old film producer Lawrence D. Foldes. Foldes was also the writer/director/producer of Don’t Go Near the Park, which was on the notorious British “video nasties” list.

Some of the dialogue is ridiculous, but all in all it’s 90 minutes of fun that probably fit well on a double bill.

There’s a commentary track on the disc, plus new interviews with cast and crew, a Q&A, some short films from the same producer, and a stills gallery. It’s been scanned and restored in 2K from the 32mm negative, so this print is probably better than how it looked in the drive-in.

★★★½

Ian Schultz

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