Author: John Mathews
The centrefold girls took me by surprise, it shocked me, wowed me, entertained me. It is a disjointed puzzle of exploitation cinema that needs to be seen to be believed. Lets take a step back, this film is essentially a slasher film from 1974, yes thats right 1974. Pre Black christmas and on par with when Bava shocked the world with ‘Bay Of blood’. Well not entirely a slasher, its feels and acts like one based on premises. The film immediately starts off jumping straight into the gore, showing a young half nude woman getting slashed; then dragged away by the killer on a beach. This had myself reminiscing on The opening scene to Maniac; which would not come for another 7 years.
Immediately we are introduced to the killer Clement Dunne. He is one of the main driving forces that keeps us engaged in the story, the thing is that he does not look like your average killer. He appears intelligent and well groomed, he does have a fetish for killing centrefold girls from porno mags. That is pretty a much it, he kills, cuts out their face in the mag, then kills again. Seems repetitive but actually it's not, you could say the same for a slasher film, what keeps it engaging is the character development and the killer himself. He appears to be frustrated by women himself, to him; killing them is the only option to cleanse them.
The first victim is Linda and it presents her in her day to day life. She is constantly being harassed by the killer as he claims he want to "help her". She goes on a road trip for a job interview as a nurse, along the way chows occurs that is not caused by the killer, infact we don't even see the killer until the end of this segment. I use the word segment as 'the centrefold girls' really does feel like an anthology. Girl gets slashed we move onto next story. It is very nihilistic in its approach, getting us the viewers very attached to these characters then having them sliced off. But rather unique. No spoilers but there are two more girls who follow after this. One involving a trip on an island mansion for a centrefold shoot that ends up a disaster.
Speaking of gore, for a 1974 film it is surprisingly graphic. For an American film (not euro horror) we have quite a bit of splatter. The razor blade kills to essentially a whole massacre segment, it was well ahead of its time and surely would have found more success if it was released in the slasher boom. The pacing is great, never feeling like there is a dull moment, the characters are entertaining and the ending is surprisingly visually deep. Overall the centrefold girls is a cult film that deserves a wider audience and I was pleasantly surprised but this grindhouse gem.
Glass dolls films bring us the film in its original aspect ratio of 1:66. Overall it looks stunning, for an obscure grindhouse film it really pops. The film has a natural layer of grain throughout, giving it a rich visual quality. The colours are vibrant and never looking washed out. Very little to no specs throughout the film, this has had a tremendous upgrade to blu Ray. Black levels are also accurate, especially during darker night scenes.
Ok this is a low budget 70's, so it's not going to sound like your blockbuster from last year. It's presented English: LPCM 2.0 (48kHz, 16-bit). It gets the job done, dialogue comes of crisp and the funky soundtrack really does blast without any fuzz. Overall a very clean sounding audio track.
Ok this is where it gets good. Glass Doll films have not skimped on the extras:
Making The Cut: A Look Back At The Centerfold Girls Featurette
Interview with Tiffany Bolling
Interview with Andrew Prine
Select Music Cues
Please support this local release, what Glass Doll films is doing is amazing, an incredible overall packaging. I have to pinch myself to make sure this is a local release and not an import. Glass Doll films are truly shaping up to be our Australian answer to Vinegar Syndrome.