For a while I've shied away from reviewing movies that were on Mystery Science Theatre 3000, because that's quite frankly like shooting puppies in a barrel. At least tip the barrel over and give the puppies a running start.
When the movie in question is written by Ed Wood, Jr. you have to accept that the puppies were dead before the barrel was tipped over. So is the case with the 1956 movie "The Violent Years."
We start off with a judge who looks like he hasn't had a bowel movement since the Theodore Roosevelt administration, haranging two parents in his courtroom. Tearfully the mother thinks "where did we go wrong". My guess is picking up the phone call from your agent. But that's the cue for flashback city.
Seems the couple in question are a well-known pair around down. Daddy is the publisher of a newspaper. Mommy is well known for her charity work. And then there's their daughter, Paula, bright, sassy - and bored out of her blond mind. (Paula is played by Jean Moorhead, an early Playboy Playmate)
So how does Paula get over being a bored little rich girl?? She finds a few more bored young things in push-up bras, and leads them off on a series of wacky highjinks and misadventures, like "robbing gas stations" and "wacking the attendant upside the head with a pistol".
Cut to the hospital, with the detective talking with the doctor, who is concerned the attendant might not make it though. And in walks Barney, ace reporter for Paula's daddy's newspaper. Seems there's been a band of girls terrorizing the town, and he wants to know if this is part of said terror ring. He's told "Yep, that makes 17", with the last seven being gas station robberies. It's so bad that the police plan to put undercover cops in the stations as gas pump jockeys. So much for that whole "secrecy" thing when they blab it to a reporter.
Barney then tells his info to his boss, Paula's daddy. Said daddy bemoans the fact that he can't take the day off to spend with his little girl with all these gosh darn hoodlums running around causing trouble. That painful thumping you feel is Ed Wood smashing the plotline repeatedly against the top of your head.
Meanwhile, darling daughter and her gang of girls heads up to the local makeout spot. They find a young couple making out in a convertable and decide to harass them. The girl half of said couple is forced to take off her sweater and her skirt is torn up to tie said girl into the backseat. The girl-gang then runs off into the woods with the guy half of said couple. After some half-hearted struggling, the girl manages to get herself untied and runs up the road in her slip looking for help. You hear screaming, but it doesn't seem to be coming from her.....
Once in the woods, the girl-gang forces the guy to strip. You see a shot of Paula pat her hair, lick her lips, and start to undo her clothing, and then it cuts to a headline of "Young Man Robbed, Criminally Attacked By Four Girls - Man Attack in Lover's Lane".
Yes boys and girls, Paula and her merry band of misfits have graduated to raping men for kicks. The headline, of course, can't say this (it *is* the 50's, after all), and instead guarantees that the area will now be infested by wannabe victims for the next several months instead, killing a prime makeout spot for the rest of the town's horny teenage couples.
A while later at Paula's house, her parents are lamenting that they're just too gosh darn busy to attend their darling daughter's birthday pajama party. Her dad then goes to work, and Paula meets him there later. Dad says the police are looking for four male juveniles (because, after all, mere girls just *couldn't* do any of these bad things) in connection with the gas station thefts, and just happens to blab about the police stationing undercover cops inside. Ooopsie. Paula gets the old gang together, tells them "hey, we're going to have to chill", and goes off to their fence, Sheila. While working out the details, Paula goes "hey, I don't care about the money, I'm just in this for the kicks." Sheila likes what she hears and and goes "hey, want to help me make brownie points with a certain international organization??" (Nice little way to tie in the whole red scare thing).
And what does Sheila want Paula to do? Why vandalize the local school! Oh, and tear up a few flags in the process. Paula decides to think it over, and goes off to her pajama party, otherwise known as "makeout central" Just when the teen grope group starts to get going, a knock on the door signals Barney! Yes, daddy's ace reporter is also daddy's errand boy, and he's there to deliver Paula's birthday present - a brand new watch to go with the brand new car!! Which, as we find out, are the exact same presents Paula's parents have gifted her with for the last few years.
Barney, of course, sticks out like a sore thumb, and decides to warn Paula about the crowd she's hanging with. Paula tells him to buzz off. One of the males goes off to play testosterone games with Barney, who proceeds to punch the kid senseless. Paula throws Barney out, then the other boys, and gathers the girls together to go off to vandalize the local school.
Now the smart thing would be to "Park the car nearby within walking distance, to make sure the cops can't corner them". Or maybe "steal another car first". Nope, they park Paula's car right in front, break in, and go into a classroom, where they proceed to.....
Knock desks over.
Throw books around
Knock things off of the teachers desk.
Throw things out the window.
In doing so they get the attention of the night watchman. Who calls the cops. When the girls hear the sirens, they immediately bail out and run off to the waiting car, giving the police the slip.
Oh, sorry, my bad, I was imagining what they would do if they had the sense the Gods gave a dung beetle. No, they start to shoot at the cops, who return fire. One girl buys it in the classroom, a second buys it by Paula's car, with the survivor and Paula heading off driving right by the cops on the way out.
Somehow, they manage to evade the police and end up at Sheila's house, hoping to hide there. Sheila goes "oh, no way in hell", and first tries to kick them out. Paula pulls a gun. Sheila picks the phone up. Paula warns Sheila she shot a cop. Sheila goes "that's it, I'm calling the cops. Paula shoots Sheila dead. Once again, we see the beauty of natural selection improving the species. They loot Sheila's house and leave, while a nosy neighbor (who I guess wasn't nosy enough to notice Sheila's activities as a fence), calls the cops.
The girls try to buy a new car, while Paula is getting sick. The cops find Sheila's body, helpful neighbor gives a direction, and the game is on! Shortly, a patrol car notices the girls in their new car, tells them to pull over, and watches as Paula punches the gas - right into a plate glass window.
Paula wakes up with a bandage on her cheek in a prison hospital. Looks like girl #3 though suffered a terminal case of window pain. Darling Paula's parents suddenly find they have the time to spend with their darling daughter at her upcoming murder trial. Where she is called a "thrill killer" (about the only thrill in this movie), and found guilty. The judge mentioned above gives a long, wordy, boring morality lecture before sending Paula to Juvy hall until he's 21, and then to a women's prison for the rest of her life (after lamenting he couldn't put darling daughter to death).
Cut away to the parents, who suddenly find they have the time to go "where did we go wrong?". You assume they're now social pariahs who haven't the decency to move away and change their names. And they're off to visit darling daughter Paula, who's back in the prison hospital. Seems Paula managed to get herself in a family way with her rape victim, and is about to give birth.
There's more weepy parents promising to take care of her child and Paula ending the movie with her trademark "So What" line. Cut away to the parents waiting the news. The doctor came in, the baby girl is fine, but Paula's life sentence just ended. So they try and do the right thing - finally - and move to adopt Paula's baby. (Oh, yes, this is our grandchild. She was born out of wedlock by our murdering daughter and the man she raped. Cute kid, eh?)
Not so fast, as they come up again against Judge Constipation (and now the movie is full circle), as the judge bludgeons the parents over and over again about how piss-poor they were as parental figures, and finally goes "no, you can't have granddaughter, not yours" to mandate the poor kid remains a ward of the court until a "proper" and "moral" family can be found to adopt her. Let's hope the kid never tries to find out whi her birthparents really are. The move ends with the parents walking the walk of shame away from the judge's bench and the cry of a baby behind barred windows (which gives the feeling Judge Constipation decided to make the baby serve her mother's sentence in prison.) And with that, the audience is left with a splitting headache from the 65 minutes of moral bludgeoning they just endured.
There are some movies that shouldn't be watched alone or sober. This is one of them. It makes you want to go back in time and beat Ed Wood Jr. to death with one of his own angora sweaters.