Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
From my main man, the late Al Adamson, we have today's film 'Black Heat'.  Or The Murder Gang'.  Or Girl's Hotel.  Or Vice Syndicate.  I think anybody familiar with the works of Uncle Al knows that he wasn't really much of a filmmaker, but by all accounts he was a really good dude and along with his producing partner Sam Sherman, they were some shrewd marketers, thus the different titles to siphon off of different markets and release this movie under different names spanning like three decades.  Still, the fact remains, Al really wasn't much of a filmmaker, but of the Adamson's I've seen to this point, 'Black Heat', which is the Blaxploitation version of this that we saw, is the best of the Adamson's I've seen to this date.

Kicks Carter (Timothy Brown) and his partner Tony (Geoffrey Land) are a couple of hard core L.A. police detectives who are tough on the criminals and even tougher on the ladies they love.  These are a couple of pretty big dudes too, Timothy Brown being a former pro football player and Geoffrey Land could've easily substituted for Christopher Reeves as Superman if Reeves didn't exist. 

When we first peep in on Kicks and Tony, they are chasing some thug on a rooftop, when Kicks personal Lois Lane, erstwhile reporter Stephanie (Tanya Boyd) and her 82 pound reel camera show up on the scene.  It had to be real difficult to shoot run and gun news stories while dragging that thing around town.  Eventually our heroes put this thug down, and now they get to relax by the pool at some odd hotel for girls.  Now there are like three major plot elements in this thing, because this film ended up being three different movies, so the hotel prostitution front is never really developed all that much in this version.  We just got to see some fine bikini clad mid 70's flesh.  Particularly the smoking hot Tanya Boyd who is about as fit as a young woman could get, even though her character of Stephanie is mercilessly teasing Kicks the SuperStud. 
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So when does the plot kick in?  It's kind of always there in the background.  There's some mean dude doing a guns for drugs trade.  This same mean dude is working with Ziggy the scurrilous club owner (Russ Tamblyn) and his moll Fay (Darlene Anders) to execute some kind of securities heist.  To pull off this heist, they need the assistance of Terry the gambling addict (Jana Ballan), who works at this securities house and also lives at the Hotel for Girls.  You got all that?

Kicks and Tony want to bring Ziggy down, but Ziggy doesn't want to be brought down so he kills Tony.  Kind of.  Not really.  Truth of the matter is he did shoot at Tony while they were driving, but Tony's lousy driving caused him to run off the road, so he kind of killed himself if you ask me.  While Tony's death is pretty tragic and all, the way the characters in this movie handled this death was kind of funny.  Kicks has just lost his best friend, his number one, his Ace Boom Coom, and he delivers this news to Tony's girl Terry with all the remorse of someone hearing the corner store has just run out of Schlitz.  Terry, for her part, seemed even less fazed and just started playing solitaire with handy deck of cards upon hearing about the death of her one true love.  And Dead Tony really didn't play much of a factor from that point on.  We missed you Tony, don't worry.

Eventually, all of these disparate elements and plot points will come together with Kicks having to solve the drugs for gun issue, the Ziggy problem and the securities problem.  After he finally teaches that teasing Stephanie a lesson in one of the more explicit and lengthy sex scenes we've ever seen in a non-porno movie. 

The downside of making two movies at the same time is that it appears, at times, to present a serious lack continuity.  Why are we spending so much time with Terry and her gambling problem?  One which leads to one of the more uncomfortable gang rape scenes since we saw the original 'I Spit on Your Grave'.  The difference being that gambling addict Terry actually offered up this option since she was low on cash, then got upset when these sweaty dudes cashed in.  Terry followed this up by getting raped by a lesbian.  It was a tough day for Terry.  As a result of these dual stories, our star Kicks is off the screen doing nothing for long stretches of this movie.  Or if you were watching 'Girl's Hotel' our star Terry would also be off screen for long stretches of this movie.  The good thing about watching two movies rolled into one is that it split off the nonsense and general incompetence that is an Al Adamson movie and actually kind of made this one fun to sit through.  Of course I have fun sitting through even the worst Al Adamson film in some aspects, but this one could conceivably even be entertaining for people who like normal, well made movies.  Unlikely, but conceivable. 

The various storylines don't make an awful lot of sense, but they do make enough sense to at least carry a narrative.  The majority of the acting from almost everybody in this movie is generally atrocious, excepting Mr. Tamblyn and Miss Boyd, but the terrible acting still kind of fit into the schlocky style in which the movie was presented.  And if you like action, particularly 1970's style, cheesy, poorly shot actionů 'Black Heat' has you covered.

I'm sure there has to be a legitimately good Al Adamson film out there somewhere, and if there is, we will find it, but until we do have glorious nonsense like 'Black Heat' to fill the void. 
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