Review Index

MIKE CURTIS (Leisure; 1976)

This long out of print paperback is an outrageous chunk of seventies-sploitation that must be read to be believed. Certainly the front cover tagline gives a good idea of the none-too-refined content: “Fanatical Feminists Used Sex to Lure Men to Their Death.”

     It’s not particularly well written, with crude, expletive laden prose (sample: “He could hardly wait to stick his cock in that glorious bright red thatch”), and nor is it especially wise in its depiction of the battle of the sexes. But then, anyone honestly expecting such things from this book is a delusional asshole. For this reader THE SAVAGE WOMEN provided exactly what it promised, which is to say a fast moving, politically incorrect revel in sex and sleaze.

     The Savage Women of the title are a band of militant NYC lesbians who dub themselves the Women’s Guerilla Movement. They’re controlled by an albino gay man who detests heterosexual males. He sends the women out to seduce their pray, then kill and castrate them. This is a chore the ladies take to with a bit too much enthusiasm: after goring and castrating a man, one murderess uses the blunt end of her knife to get herself off, and another drowns a guy in his own waterbed. Afterward the gals are always careful to leave their signature by carving MCP (for Male Chauvinist Pig) in the flesh of their victims.

     The hero is a tough Dirty Harry-esque cop who’s not above roughing up suspects and using his own girlfriend (who expresses her love by begging “Let me do you”) as bait for the WGM. He spends his days scouring gay bars and sex clubs for clues to the killings.

     In the meantime one of the murderesses forms her own man-hating splinter group called the Rapists’ Vengeance League, and the madness spreads to ordinary ladies inspired by the actions of the savage ones: “The city housed plenty of bitter, angry women. Given encouragement, they could easily turn into a pack of snarling female animals.”

     As literature THE SAVAGE WOMEN doesn’t exactly excel, but as trashy pulp it ranks pretty high. Despite the unusually robust sex and violence quotient it never feels the slightest bit disturbing; the victims of the savage women are all portrayed as chauvinistic scumbags, so their killings aren’t especially troubling. In fact, the novel overall is so ridiculous I found it difficult to take any of it too seriously. It’s probably best viewed as a depraved artifact from a time when exploitation really meant something.