She’s killed a man, been shot at, and made love twice already this evening…and the evening isn’t over yet.
Scorchy‘s tagline only begins to scratch the surface of this outrageous 1970s potboiler set in the grungy depths of Downtown Seattle. Connie Stevens (original singer of “Sixteen Reasons” featured in Mulholland Drive) plays Jackie Parker, a globetrotting horny bad-ass detective who is always chasing the next piece of meat while always getting her man. This time around, Jackie (who is never referred to as Scorchy in the movie, nor does she ever don the fabulous vampire cape featured in the original poster) is breaking open an international drug smuggling ring where rich people smuggle drugs in the bodies of valuable pieces of art.
Sure, that story is the most hoariest of film noir tropes, but the story is secondary to the badassedness of Jackie Parker. In her first appearance, our blonde bombshell is on a plane wearing a giant curly black wig with an oversized white hat with gold trim and a giant tweed jacket; an outfit that signals this woman is either an undercover narc or an insane tourist. Scorchy believes that the best way to be inconspicuous is to be as outrageous and loud as possible, a visibility which includes making a big deal about having as much sex as possible with as many men as possible (surprisingly, there’s only one actual sex scene in the movie). Half of the plot is her trying to seduce a hunky friend of a friend who had better be good in bed.
Of special value to me is that this is a love letter to Seattle. It abuses landmarks like the Daughters of the American Revolution colonial on Capitol Hill, races through a high speed multi-vehicle chase through disparate neighborhoods, and concludes with a helicopter chase sequence through Gas Works Park (a beloved rusty factory and home to the best viewing spot for our 4th of July fireworks display. Even if the neighborhoods don’t fit together (through the magic of editing), seeing the various original buildings throughout the city provides a treat to the people who love the city.
Maybe I’ve been overselling the movie. Scorchy is less Coffy realness and more Andy Sedaris awesomeness. Jackie Parker doesn’t have dialogue so much as a series of one-liners that vaguely resemble a sense of scene progression. Her tired hardass boss is the stockiest of stock characters from central casting constantly supplying Jackie with a steady supply of candy bars to appease her significant hunger, and her boy toy has no significant role other than to be a source of sex and yet another victim. He barely even counts as being fridged because nobody really cares about him and his death just sort of happens.
This camp classic gives people a glorious look into the best of 1970’s Seattle style and fashion, showing the city in its pre-grunge state as a growing metropolitan city with a real working class edge to it. Scorchy may not be a great movie, or even a good movie (it is, after all, an AIP production), but it has a DIY sensibility that gives it a homegrown flavor.
Shout Factor’s blu ray brings the R-rated cut of Scorchy to home video for the first time.