"Bad Girls Go to Hell," directed by Doris Wishman in 1965, is a cult classic that stands out as an early example of the sexploitation genre. The film, rich in melodrama and moral ambiguity, presents a dark, seedy vision of the city and exposes the dire consequences of its protagonist's actions.
The story follows Meg Kelton (Gigi Darlene), a housewife who, after an unfortunate series of events, finds herself on the run in the dark underbelly of the city. Meg's plight, far from being gratuitously sexualized, is portrayed with a raw edge and an unexpected depth, which adds to the film's grim tone.
The acting is, in true exploitation style, somewhat hammy and over-the-top, but Darlene does an admirable job in her role as the desperate housewife. The rest of the cast, populated by a slew of unsavory characters, provide ample support to Darlene, creating a stark world that Meg is desperate to escape.
What makes "Bad Girls Go to Hell" noteworthy is its offbeat cinematography and direction. The film is shot in a raw, grainy black-and-white that adds to its bleak ambiance. Wishman's direction, although sometimes lacking in finesse, exhibits a certain rough charm that lends a unique feel to the narrative.
As for the film's music, it consists mostly of a jazzy score that serves to underscore the suspense and tension of Meg's predicament. The dialogues are typical of the genre, filled with noir-ish undertones and a pervasive sense of impending doom.
However, as a film rooted in the sexploitation genre, "Bad Girls Go to Hell" is inevitably subject to some criticism. The plot can feel contrived at times, and the characters are largely one-dimensional. Moreover, some viewers might find the film's explicit content and its depiction of violence against women offensive.
In summary, "Bad Girls Go to Hell" is a notable entry in the sexploitation genre that offers a grimly fascinating view of a woman's struggle in a cruel, unforgiving world. While its themes and depictions are certainly not for everyone, it remains an intriguing example of early exploitation cinema.