Malibu High (1979)

Director: Irv Berwick
Also known as: Death In Denim, High School Hit Girl
Tagline: “Every teacher in school wanted to flunk her… but nobody dared!”
Key IMDB Keywords: Prostitution; Drugs; Voluptuous; Shot In The Chest; Sociopath; Heart Attack; No Panties; Mustang Convertible; Ice Pick; Nipples Visible Through Clothing; Independent Film

Plot: A typical day for high-school senior Kim Bentley (played by Jill Lansing) begins with waking up in the nude and smoking a cigarette while gazing lazily in the mirror for as long as possible, until Mom gets frustrated and orders Kim down to breakfast, so she can yell about how terrible her daughter looks with her cigarettes and slutty clothes.

School’s not much better for our Kim. She never studies and hasn’t the foggiest idea what set of British laws led to the industrial revolution. Kevin (played by Stuart Taylor), the guy she’s been dating for two years, has dumped her for some rich bitch. Kim tries to drown her sorrows by asking the local pimp/dealer Tony (Alex Mann), “You got any shit on you?” but he asks for either $20 or a quick tumble in the back of his van. (“Twenty bucks!” she yelps. “What do you think I am? The late Howard Hughes or something?”) And when she does get her hands on some of Tony’s pot, it makes her surlier than usual, such that she has a flashback to her dad’s suicide.

So Kim swears, “Starting tomorrow it’s gonna be a whole new scene!” She crosses an X through the “Kim loves Kevin” heart on her wall and puts on a micro-skirt that horrifies her mother.

When Kim’s history teacher (John Grant) confronts her about her bad attitude and inappropriate attire, she leans in close and whispers, “I was hoping I’d turn you on a little, Mr. Donaldson.” She arranges to meet him on a grassy dune by the ocean, where they engage in what the kids call “heavy petting.” Kim then threatens to reveal the affair, saying she can prove it by telling everyone about “the half-moon birthmark on the cheek of your ass!” (Kim tends to over-emphasize words at the ends of sentences.) She goes on to make dates with all of her other male teachers, saying, “I intend to graduate… with top grades!”

The problem is that Kim has one female teacher, and when she starts getting As in all her classes besides English, she’s called on the carpet by the principal, a “deaf old bastard who should’ve been retired 20 years ago.” Lucky for Kim, the deaf old bastard has a heart condition, so when he shows up at Kim’s house to talk to her mother, Kim is able to induce a heart attack just by doffing her clothes and sitting on his lap.

Meanwhile, Kim is making big money as Tony’s top prostitute. (In a montage of Kim seeing clients in the back of Tony’s van, one politely says, “I prefer the French way,” and she sighs, “Sure, why not? Beats the Greek way.”) Then she meets Lance (Garth Howard), a higher-class pimp with better drugs. The two become business partners and lovers. After Kim stabs a violent client with an ice pick, Lance calms her down, saying, “Hey look baby, don’t sweat it. I take care of my girls. We’ll simply get some puppet to take the rap. There’s always some fink the boys are trying to get rid of.” He offers her a promotion: from strumpet to strumpet/assassin. This leads to multiple scenes of Kim stripping half-naked in front of horny mobsters and then pulling out a gun, dropping sassy lines like, “Oh no, I’m serious… dead serious!”

After that, Malibu High runs out of places to go. Once the heroine has slept with most of the faculty and become the top enforcer on the West Coast, what else can she do? She moves out of her house after Mom asks one too many questions about where Kim’s money’s coming from—“How many times do I have to tell you? I’m doing relief work!”—and moves in with Lance, becoming a happy housewife of sorts. But she still hasn’t gotten over Kevin, and when she stumbles across Kevin’s new girlfriend Annette (Tammy Taylor) while on a job, she shoots her in the gut, then draws her gun to kill Kevin too. But the cops get her first. She graduates at last… to hell.

Key scenes: Any scene between Kim and Kevin is absolutely priceless, starting with their big break-up scene, where Kevin thinks he’s being clever by saying that they didn’t have a thing, they had “a no-thing.” Later, Kim shrieks at Kevin and Annette in the parking lot, saying that Kevin better heed his new mommy “before she takes away your allowance.” Then she flips Annette off, which upsets Kevin so much that he confronts her about it in the hallway at school, where Kim flips him off with a double-bird, because she’s hardcore like that.

The scenes between Kim and her second pimp are aces too, with their combination of giggly romance and sleazy peer pressure. The first time he tells her that he needs her to kill for him, she protests, “I may be a hooker, but I’m not a hitgirl.” But he insists that she’ll make enough money that she’ll be out of the hooking game for good and will only have to go to bed with “one dirty old man… me!” They make a sweet couple, these two.

Can easily be distinguished by: The incongruous folk music and goth font over the opening credits, more appropriate for a hippie romance and/or satanic horror film.

Sign that it was made in 1979: When one john plays rough with Kim, he tosses her onto a waterbed, where she flops around like a sock monkey.

Timeless message: The movie has a go-nowhere subplot involving the materialistic Annette, who looks down on Kim, shrieking, “She’s a piece of shit! She’s proving something, all right! She’s proving that she’s a piece of shit!” But when Annette coos to her daddy to get money for new earrings, Malibu High seems to be saying that even “respectable” women, deep down, are pretty much whores.

Memorable quotes: Kim takes issue with her mother’s standard around-the-house attire of bathrobe and feather duster: “You could’ve looked decent once in a while, instead of worrying about dirt! And dust! And greasy build-ups! Maybe then you wouldn’t have driven daddy away! And maybe daddy wouldn’t have had to kill himself because he couldn’t get it up anymore!”

Available on DVD from BCI

Filed Under: DVD

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