Despite its limitations in the storytelling department, the slasher film is never going to die. Like many of the deformed homicidal maniacs that hack sex and booze crazed teens into Snausage sized chunks to the delight of horror fans, the slasher genre can never truly be kept down for too long. It’s the comfort food of the genre. As long as you have a cool looking killer, an attractive cast willing to show a little bit of T&A and creative, practical effect driven kills that will leave you covering your eyes while laughing with delight, then the slasher film will remain a staple. It’s something that Geoff Klein and Melissa Mira, the co-directing team behind the Pinup Dolls On Ice understand. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel in order to craft one of the more fun, bloody and sexy horror films of the year.
Pinup Dolls stakes its claim early when Kristy (Ashley Almon) strips down to her birthday suit by the lakeside dock in order to give her boyfriend a little show. Before you can say “Oh my that’s an unfortunate tattoo” she’s running for her life from Moe, the jumpsuit clad homicidal maniac with a fetish for putting gorgeous women on ice-both figuratively and literally.
After stating its intent with the bloody prologue, Pinup Dolls switches gears by introducing its, well, pinup dolls. Far from typical damsels in distress, the women prove themselves to be a fine group of badasses in their own right. We first meet the ladies while they’re busting up the bar of a scoundrel that stiffed them out of half their payment. After busting beer steins and faces the girls hit the road. The girls make up a cabaret troupe hired by their old friend Joy (Suzi Lorraine) to work a party at the tavern near where Moe has staked as his hunting ground.
Pinup Dolls manages to be the rare modern slasher that deliver a fun, campy experience that’s on par with the kill scenes. Make no mistake, the film comes delivered to the audience with an exaggerated wink of the eye and a heaping dose of Velveeta. Front and center in the cheesiness is Matt Popoff as the sleazy pick up artist Clay. The man just wants to party and party naked and Popoff brings doltish smarm to the role. The titular pinup ladies themselves have a lot of fun with their roles, delivering both their lines and baseball bats to the faces with a ton of gusto.
While Pinup Dolls is a lot of fun, it’s also one of the more BRUTAL slasher films of this age. Special note goes to co-director Melissa Mira who plays Malone, one of the dancers in the troupe. Never let it be said she’ll ask her actresses to do something she’d refuse to do because she has one of the most violent exchanges in the film. She receives a prolonged beatdown at the hands of Moe (while getting in some nasty shots of her own) that culminates with the use of a deli meat slicer. We’ll let you figure out how that exchange goes. Klein and Mira know their audience, and they know the film is meant to be enjoyed with an inebriated lot of sots that are drunkenly hooting and yelling at the screen, while wincing at the more graphic scenes.
As far as modern slasher films go, Pinup Dolls On Ice is one of the most enjoyable ones since Sweatshop. In fact, the two share a lot of the same DNA: both train a campy eye towards the slasher films of the 80’s, recognizing the ridiculousness of the format while nailing the over the top kill scenes that make the best ones so memorable. It makes me wish the midnight movie was still a thriving operation. Most likely, you’ll discover the film on Netflix in the future, when it really benefits from a raucous and communal theatrical experience.