Teenage Devil Dolls
Reviewed by Stephenee Snell
Rating: 8 Beans
young woman leaving a hospital, flanked by her mother, step-father, and a policeman. As they make their way to a waiting car, we catch a glimpse of a thug taking it all in. Could he be up to no good? Well, hell, yes, the monotone narrator confirms it. And with the narrarator's bone-chilling comment of, "addicts have a strange code of ethics," the classic docudrama "Teenage Devil Dolls" begins!
The film flashes back to three years earlier, circa summer of 1949. Due to insecurity stemming from her "much married" mother and a series of step-fathers, our subject Cassandra (Barbara Marks) begins hanging out with the typical bad-ass motorcycle gang. Now, we are not talking "Wild In The Streets" bad, no, these kids are much worse: why, they look like the Beach Boys and actually ride without helmets! Truly, rebels without causes, they! They smoke "reefer" and at first, innocent Cassandra refuses. She eventually gives in to typical teen peer pressure. Cassandra gets completely wasted which I found a hard feat considering she never actually inhaled.
Cassandra starts doing badly in school, so what else does a poor, rebellious stoner do? Why, marry the clean-cut lad in love with her, what else? Poor Johnny (Robert Norman) does not know what in the hell to do with an unhappy and depressed little wifey, so he buys her a dog! Just the ticket! And the family doc writes plenty of scripts for sedatives to take the edge off! Soon she is back with the gang and poor Johnny finds himself all alone at nights, Cassandra's twin bed not having been slept in. The narrator drones that our little Cassandra is headed down "the route: the long road the junkies call goofballs."
Good-hearted Lt. David Jason (Robert Sherry) begins tailing our heroine as she walks the dirty streets. And walks some more. And walks some more. And...okay, you get the picture. He finally busts her for possession and she goes home to live with her mother and new step-father, which left me to wonder what had happened to poor Johnny and the dog?
Cassandra escapes yet again and pals up with heroin addict Margot (Elaine Lindenbaum), the cleanest addict this side of the suburbs. Sven (Joel Climenhaga), slimey Norweigen dope dealer he is, ends up getting Cassandra hooked and o.d.'ing poor Margot. Cassandra ends up yet again on a cuckoo's nest ward, detoxing to sounds and visions of boiling tea kettles.
Par for the course, Cassandra escapes and this time, heads for Mexico with bad-ass Cholo(Bamlet Lawrence Price, Jr.). I guess due to the film's obvious low budget, Price - who wrote and directed - figured himself capable of filling in as a bad-ass Chicano, and does he look the part with make-up darkened skin and charcoal beard! Anyways, they get lost on the way to Mexico and the cops chase them around a lot in the desert. And stand around a lot. And chase them some more. Being typcial intelligent stoners, Cassandra and Cholo ditch their stolen car to walk out of the desert. But wait! They forgot the stash! And it is 107 degrees in the shade! What do everyday stoners do? Why, crash and detox in a cave! And foam at the mouth a lot! And hear the constant whistle of boiling tea kettles! I'm thinking, wow!, if detoxing means hearing tea kettle whistles at all hours of the day and night, call me a stoner for life!
Of course, the cops walk all around the cave without discovering it, though they do find the abandoned car. The cops eventually find Cassandra and drag her back to her much married mom and step-dad who, with Lt. Jason, put her on a train to a destination we never learn. Only Cholo is narrowly eyeing the events...uh-oh! But our hero, Lt. Jason steps in to nab Cholo and foil his attempts to hustle Cassandra back into a life of drugging, racing stolen cars to Mexico, running around in the desert, and detoxing to the sound of tea kettles. As the train heads down the lonely track, we hear the narrator intone, "where most stories end, Cassandra's may have only begun..." And then drug stats from 1952 flash by so quick as to be unreadable.
With anti-drug films like this, no wonder the war on drugs has not been won!
NOTE: Bamlet Lawrence Price, Jr. not only wrote and directed this teen angst film, he played the role of Cholo and cast his own parents in the roles of Cassandra's folks.
The narrator never spoke of what became of Johnny and the dog. I sort of figured they got hip to the whole scene, moved to Haight-Ashbury, and spent the summer at Woodstock.
I saw no actual teenagers, devils, or dolls during the entire film.
And hey, kids: stay away from drugs or you might just start hearing boiling tea kettle whistles at all hours! Remember: just say no!
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