Color, 1973, 90 mins. 31 secs.
Directed by Carl Monson
Joshua Bryant, Frank Bannon, Linda York, Sharon Kelly, Angela Carnon, Con Covert, John Tull, Sandy Dempsey
Severin Films (Blu-ray & DVD) (US R0 HD/NTSC) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9), Image Entertainment (DVD) (US R0 NTSC)
One of the most legendary smut purveyors of the '60s and '70s, distributor Harry Novak managed to integrate sexploitation into a variety of genres through his company, Boxoffice International Pictures, while also picking up a few international oddities along the way like The Sinful Dwarf and Caged Virgins. His years-long deal with Something Weird Video brought his name to the cult movie masses like never before, including a number of special editions that featured the now-departed man himself chatting about their creation. One title that really stood out at the time was A Scream in the Streets, with frequent Novak director Carl Monson (Please Don't Eat My Mother, Booby Trap) delivering a sexed-up roughie take on '70s cop shows while integrating some boundary-pushing sex scenes shot on the side by other filmmakers. Wildly inappropriate and mean-spirited to the core, it's an outrageous dose of L.A. exploitation that can still startle viewers today.
A nameless rapist (Covert) in drag is on the loose in the City of Angels, picking up women at public benches and luring them into a nightmare of assault. The case of five victims so far falls into the hands of two cops, married Ed (The Curious Female's Bryant, hiding out here as "John Kirkpatric") and single guy Bob (Bannon), who spend their days wading through the various criminals and perverts of the city while frequently disregarding the rule of law. From peeping toms with a thing for lesbian housewives to ill-fated grocery store robbers, nobody gets away as the duo juggle their sexy home lives and professional duties on the way to a final confrontation with the cross-dressing menace who's now escalated to full-on homicide.
Many of Novak's films (especially his hillbilly comedies) were known for veering as close to explicit sex as legally possible before porno chic took over, and this one's no exception including a particularly nasty and graphic massage parlor session and a lengthy scene with his most famous star, Sharon Kelly (a.k.a. adult film star Colleen Brennen). Solidifying the Novak credentials is one amusing peeping tom scene involving horny pot smokers John Tull (Sassy Sue) and Sandy Carey (Deep Jaws), both of whom do what they do best here mixing comedy and free-spirited sexuality. The whole thing is incredibly episodic and probably disorienting for anyone who isn't used to these kinds of patchwork films, but if you're in the mood for prime sleaze from the Novak vaults, this one is essential viewing.
After a handful of heavily censored VHS releases (including a softer theatrical cut called Girls in the Street), this film first turned up uncut on DVD in 2002 from Image Entertainment via its distribution deal with Something Weird (though the massage parlor scene came very close to getting it axed before it even got out of the gate). That 1.33:1 open matte version looked great for the time (Novak's films were generally maintained in superb condition) and featured the theatrical trailer, which was a bit of a puzzler as it featured snippets of footage not present in the actual film. (More on that below.) Also included were bonus trailers (Destination Fury, The Godson, Mafia Gang, Michelle, Prostitute Protection Society, Secret File 1413, Sex Club International, Some Like It Violent, A Taste of Hot Lead, The Touchables, and X-Ray of a Killer, plus a hidden one in the main menu) and five "Shady Short Subjects:" Crime in the Streets (18m20s), an urban crime educational doc; The Prowler (24m2s), a black-and-white, police-sanctioned short looking at vice squad operations; a very condensed version of Caught in the Can (25m47s), a softcore 1970 romp about two guys (softcore vets Ron Darby and Gerard Broulard) who pose as female hookers so they can get lucky in a female holding cell with inmates including Novak regular Casey Larrain; Strip in the Street (2m57s), a quick burlesque bikini short; and the familiar Harry Novak: Crime Stopper (15m51s) with Mike Vraney paying a visit to the very colorful entrepreneur. Also included two "Mug Shots" galleries of Novak exploitation art and publicity photos.
In 2021, Severin Films added this to its roster of post-SW Novak releases with separate Blu-ray and DVD editions featuring a new 2K scan of the original camera negative. As expected, it looks great with those eyeball-searing colors we've come to know and love from the Boxoffice catalog including shades of red and orange like nothing else on earth. In a nice gesture, the film is presented in a matted 1.85:1 option (which is the best option compositionally speaking) and a completely open matte 1.33:1 one, which reveals far more image info than the DVD including a ton of graphic anatomical detail you've never seen before. The DTS-HD MA English mono track sounds fine for what it is, with optional English SDH subtitles provided (even though they aren't noted on the packaging). Extras include three theatrical trailers featuring a standard one, an alternate under the Girls in the Streets, and that one we all know from the earlier DVD (and many other SW releases) featuring snippets absent from the feature itself. That mystery is solved here with the inclusion of two softcore shorts, both entitled The Peeper, which are comprised of a pair of sequences shot for the film but never used. The first one (10m34s), presented in a new HD scan and looking excellent, features another Novak repertory player, John Keith (The Pig Keeper's Daughter), cavorting with Flora Weisel, who also appeared in another mystery short, The Voyeur, culled from outtake from Please Don't Eat My Mother. (Got all that?) The second one (9m30s) is a lesbian threesome in a bedroom, and... well, that's about all there is to it. More faded and lower in quality, it's still nice to have here in its original form. Both shorts were confusingly stitched together (in much more degraded quality) as a single 19m13s bonus short on the DVD of Wham! Bam! Thank You, Spaceman!, and it makes a lot more sense to have them here in their original versions.
Severin Films (Blu-ray) (1.85:1)
Severin Films (Blu-ray) (1.33:1)
Image Entertainment (DVD)
Reviewed on March 13, 2021