Shitty Movie Sundays: LA Crackdown

Troma alert! Troma alert! LA Crackdown, one of seven(!) films that prolific shitty filmmaker Joseph Merhi directed in 1988, went straight-to-video back when it was made, and has since found its way into the stable of the legendary shitty film company Troma. When one sees the Troma card before the title sequence, one knows that the following film will have few redeeming qualities. Troma are curators of the dark recesses of film, preserving some of the worst films America has made for future generations. LA Crackdown fits well with Troma’s stated mission of “disrupting media,” seemingly by subjecting viewers to crimes against narrative consistency, and an endless stream of dead reads.

LA Crackdown tells the story of Karen (Pamela Dixon), an LAPD officer tasked with putting juvenile defenders on the straight and narrow. Early in the film, she finds herself with two new teenaged charges — Angie and Fionna (Tricia Parks and Kita Harrison). Fionna ran away from home after being raped by her father, and has since become a prostitute and porn actress. Meanwhile, Angie was busted after accompanying a dealer on a violent drug buy that resulted in the deaths of Angie’s dealer friends, and four cops. In real life Angie would be locked away for a long stretch, but in this movie, being an accessory to murder just means she gets to go home with Karen.

That’s right. In a fit of bleeding heart-ism that would make San Franciscans blush, Karen decides that the best way to help these two troubled teens is to take them out of the group and foster homes, and let them stay with her. Sure, she’s right about getting these kids out of the system for their own good, but she’s sacrificing her own happiness in the process.

At this point, the film settles in for some serious doldrums. There was promise in the first act. There was a fair amount of gunplay and action, although the effects budget meant it all looked ridiculous. But that’s what the shitty movie viewer wants out of this dog. What we did not want is a middle act consumed entirely by trips to the mall. Merhi appears to have had a beginning and an ending to his movie, but nothing to fill out the middle — you know, the place where most of the movie happens. That’s not an uncommon problem for storytellers to have, but it appears Merhi made no effort to address it. The film just meanders through the middle, doing an imitation of character development while actually accomplishing nothing. This part of the film is a test of a viewer’s ability to concentrate.

When the final act does come around, it’s just depressing. After having spent over an hour with the three main stars, and having grown accustomed to their version of acting, I was Stockholm syndromed into feeling bad when tragedy occurs. Normally I wouldn’t spoil important plot points in a film, but who of you readers is ever going to see this piece of shit? Anyway, Karen’s act of charity results in losing her husband, getting demoted at work, and, to top it all off, both the girls end up dead. And what do we viewer’s get out of all this? We get to see Karen exact her revenge on some bad guys in a most unconvincing finale.

This flick is bottom-feeding trash. Everything about it is bad, with the acting being the most egregious. It doesn’t live up to what little promise it had. It’s a character drama from people who can’t do character dramas, when what is promised by the title and the first act is loads of senseless violence. Amazingly enough, Merhi got better at making movies. Just three years after this, he directed The Killers Edge, which is a fine shitty movie watch. Alas, however, this film does not measure up to that later film, or to the Shitty Movie Sundays yardstick. Alien: Resurrection is a much better film than LA Crackdown.