Centerfold Girls (1974)
Directed by John Peyser

Starring Andrew Prine Jaime Lynn Bauer Jennifer Ashley Ray Danton Tiffany Bolling

A highly entertaining grindhouse slasher, "The Centerfold Girls" drifted out of print for decades following a VHS release from Media in the 1980s. It was just restored by Dark Sky Films. Remastered from a 16 mm negative, the film looks better than it ever has before.

A trilogy of tales about centerfold models stalked by a geeky moralizing serial killer (Andrew Prine), who calls his targets before he strikes to tell them "I want to help you," the film delivers all the camp laughs and political incorrectness you'd expect from this type of movie. Plus, we get "Candy Snatchers" alum Tiffany Bolling playing one of the stalked models.

The film's first story has one of the models (Jaime Lyn Bauer) heading up to a doctor's appointment in a remote town to interview for a nursing job. When her appointment is canceled, she finds out she needs to spend the weekend in her aunt's secluded beach house. Along the way, she picks up a hitchhiker who also happens to be friends with a group of thugs. Meanwhile, the geeky glasses wearing killer we saw drag a nude body across a beach in the opening shot of the film, is hot on her trail as well. The model is victimized both the by the "Last House on the Left"-style hippie friends of her hitchhiker, then by the local motel owner -- and finally by the killer. It's an over-the-top opening story, seeped in violence and sexploitation, and the kind of stuff filmmakers can't get away with today.

The second tale is more of an "And Then There Were None" type story where we already know who the killer is. A group of centerfold models and a photo crew go to a secluded island for a photo shoot. Of course, the killer sneaks to the location as well. Murders start happening, with the team unclear on who is responsible. In one hilarious scene, the woman running the shoot claims the first victim simply had an "accident" and the photo sessions have to continue without delay. Naturally, no one gets off the island alive except for the geeky killer.

In the last tale, the killer appears to meet his match in the form of Tiffany Bolling, an airline stewardess that posed for the same magazine as the rest of the girls.

Unpredictable, fast paced and over the top, "The Centerfold Girls" is a great exploitationer from a bygone era. They don't make 'em like this anymore. This kind of stuff is way too rough for cable.

Director Peyser went on to direct episodes of "Hawaii Five O" and "CHiPs".

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-- Review by Lucius Gore

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