The Incredibly Bad Film Show
Roller Blade

Roller Blade (Donald G. Jackson) - Suzanne Solari, Shawn Michelle, Jeff Hutchinson

I have a theory that New World Pictures exists, not to make movies, but as psychotherapy for mentally disturbed film directors, allowing them to act out their fantasies on celluloid. For example, Tim Lehmann, director of Heathers, exorcised the ghost of his unpleasant schooldays by killing a few teen bitches. Tom de Simone used Reform School Girls to pursue his lingerie fetish and in Hellraiser, Clive Barker showed a deep, unconscious desire to be reincarnated as the meat department in Sainsbury's.

If this theory holds true, Donald G. Jackson must be the most warped and twisted of the lot of them, as Roller Blade is a story of post-apocalyptic, roller-skating, warrior nuns. Not only that, but to judge from the large number of Smiley badges being worn, this could well be the first ever case of an exploitation movie FOR acid casualties, BY acid casualties. Only the fact that it predates The Second Summer of Love by some time prevents the 'cuffs going on and Mr. Jackson getting charged with being in possession of an offensive mind.

The story (written, naturally, by Donald G. Jackson) takes place in 'The City of Lost Angels' during 'The Second Dark Age', though it looks like a shopping-centre car park on early-closing day to me. We meet the Sisters of the Holy Order of Roller Blades, led by Mother Speed and their ally Marshal Goodman (who talks in a weird mix of skate-speak and Middle English - only the fact that he is a marshal stops me from being able to make a joke about his mother having been frightened by a hi-fi catalogue). Also, we meet their enemy Saticoy, who looks like Gordon the Gopher with an especially nasty skin disease (SFX by Donald G. Jackson) and is capable of speaking without moving his lips, and of moving his lips without speaking, though since all the sound is post-synched, he is no worse off than the rest of the cast in this respect.

Out of the west arrives the Bimbo with No Name (costume by Donald G. Jackson), currently acting as a hitwoman for Saticoy in exchange for batteries for her Walkman - she slits the throat of one of his employees who was trying to defect. Three of the nuns (I use the term loosely) are caught by Saticoy and their comrades mount a rescue mission. Their philosophy, quoted by the Mother Superior, is "All weapons and techniques of battle are converted into tools of love". Precisely how this applies to their favoured butterfly knives is not immediately clear (I don't think you can get arrested for "being in possession of an offensive tool of love"), but it turns out they use them, and some mysterious Power (as in all exploitation pics, it's obviously Power with a capital P), to heal - this is demonstrated on a poor Sister with a slit throat.

The Bimbo With No Name is given her next mission - to infiltrate the Sisters and steal the crystal which is the source of their Power. She does this by seeking sanctuary there, adding realism to her plea by letting herself get roughed up a little by a gang of skate-punks, the Spikers, on the way. Not TOO much - she eventually kicks them in with, literally, both hands tied behind her back.

The Sisters let her in and agree to show her the ropes (and the chains, and the whips - oops, wrong nuns, that's Racconti Sensuale). She is given a name, Sister Fortune, and Sister Sharon agrees to take on the task of training her. The first stage of this is a ceremony to "cleanse the soul". Yea, verily thou knowest that when two or three bimbos are gathered together in the name of Exploitation, and thou hearest talk of cleanliness, we are talking Shower Scene City. And lo, this is the case; before you can say "Hail Mary", they're in the jacuzzi soul-cleansing.

Meanwhile, Saticoy has kidnapped Marshal Goodman's son, Chris, for no good reason. This takes place in the Devil's Playground, which also looks like a supermarket car-park to me. One wonders what the set designer was playing at - probably too busy writing the script, directing, producing, costume designing, etc. Yep, it's DGJ again. Sister Fortune's training progresses rapidly, since it consists of sod all apart from a bout of sparring with butterfly knives. During the course of this session, the Spikers come along and retain their 100% beaten record by getting their asses kicked in rapid time. She is then ordained in a ceremony, with no clothes on.

We'll move on, tho' not without a hint of regret. Sister Fortune steals the crystal of Power and exits stage left. Enter Marshal Goodman, having discovered his son's disappearance. He seals off the convent to prevent any of the Roller Blades coming to help him find Chris. The logic there escapes me for the moment but he clearly thinks butterfly blade bearing bimbettes are likely to do more harm than good. Sister Sharon, seeking to undo the wrong she feels responsible for (the notion of free will is clearly not in the Roller Blades' theology textbook), escapes the convent and the blockade, pausing only to greet the Spikers in the customary way, by beating them up.

Sister Fortune goes to give the power crystal, sorry, Power crystal, to Saticoy (now revealed as a man in a leather ice hockey mask wearing a 'Smirk' badge - the mangy sponge creature really IS just a hand-puppet) - he reveals his plans to use the Power crystal to ignite the "acid fuel" in his rocket and leap across the chasm (possibly the San Andreas fault?) to a weapons store on the other side, which he can then loot for use against the Roller Blades on his return. This gives Sister Fortune second thoughts about letting him have the Power crystal (typical religion - gives you a bloody guilt complex!) and she double-crosses him.

Sister Sharon encounters some Oriental warriors and engages in a spot of roller-fu; meanwhile, in another match-up, there's a shock result as the Spikers finally get to beat someone up. Saticoy and his hand puppet have some fun undressing a bimbo wrapped in Bacofoil - Sooty never got up to that sort of thing, I'm sure. The Marshal arrives to rescue his son who is suspended over a vat of Triple-C 934 - scary, huh? Sisters Fortune & Sharon fight - the former wins but is shot by one of Saticoy's guard who takes the crystal and gives it to his master. The Spikers go back to their old ways, ending the season with a played five, won one record. I think I got distracted slightly at this point - my notes read "Sister Sharon takes her top off, Chris is rescued", but I'm sure there was more to it than that, and also that those two events were not logically connected.

Anyway, Saticoy tries his leap and doesn't make it, plunging into the chasm. Since he took the Power crystal with him, you'd expect this to be a bit annoying for the Roller Blades, but Sister Sharon has discovered that "the Power lies within". Damn good job too. The End.

This film certainly has interesting similarities to other movies: Mad Max, Bad Taste, Surf Nazis and Rollerball all have some resemblance to Roller Blades. Unfortunately, it steals the wrong bits - if it'd had the characters, gore, poor taste and good acting of them respectively, we'd be laughing; instead we have a film that's worth watching once, anyway, to see how a man can take an obsession and use it to make a movie, though admittedly not a very good one.

That there's a market for this sort of thing is clear from the fact that it spawned at least one sequel, the only Incredibly Bad Film I can think of to have done so. I have yet to see it myself - if it's half as trashy and pointless as this one is, then it's worth 75p (which is what it cost me to rent Roller Blade) of anyone's money. Whether it's worth much more, though, is a question I prefer to leave unanswered...


Footnotes:
  • I remember a fierce argument with TC artist Per at the time this was originally published, as to whether Roller Blade was amusing enough to be considered a true Incredibly Bad Film. I suspect he may have had a point.

  • With her appearance in this film, Michelle Bauer became the only actress to appear in no less than three Incredibly Bad Film Show Titles, after a cameo in Reform School Girls and starring role in The Tomb.

  • Katina Garner (right), who plays 'Mother Speed', was also 'old Nefratis' in The Tomb. She has her own web site, though her resume appears to "forget" about things like her role in Cannibal Hookers...
  • In a (now deleted from the web!) interview with director Donald G.Jackson, we learn the film cost $5,000, but made more than one million dollars on video, and that Jackson did nine days work on The Terminator.

  • He has done four similarly-themed films since: Roller Blade Warriors, Roller Blade Seven, Return of the Roller Blade Seven and Roller Gator. The ones I've seen have been no improvement on Roller Blade

  • Revdonaldo, as he now chooses to style himself, has an official, if somewhat rambling, site at www.zendance.com.

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