ess an actual movie than a reason to film inside
a strip club and show a lot of strippers plying their trade,
"Trans-American Killer" (known overseas as "Switch
Killer") is pure B-grade Slasher material, which is not necessarily a
bad thing. Although it does mean that "Killer" is not fit for the
"proper" moviegoer, and as such only the brave and adventurous (or
at least someone who enjoys the guilty pleasures that the genre provides)
need bother. There are no named actors present, not even Joe (the other)
Estevez or the prodigious talents of Frank (the other) Stallone. Heck, they
couldn't even afford the awesome skills of a Jeff Fahey or Lorenzo Lamas.
Then again, since the movie barely runs 65 minutes soaking wet, it's one of
those "blink and you'll miss all the gratuitous nudity and
nakedness" sort of affair.
follows the adventures of stripper and closet lesbian Jamie (Cara Jo Basso),
who after a tussle with boyfriend Bobby (Eric Bishop) ends with one side of
her face pulverized, flees L.A. for the bright lights of Las Vegas. Safe in
Sin City, Jamie now lives with her "Casablanca"-obsessed
grandma, dates a butch lesbian, and flaunts her naughty parts at a strip
club. I guess the change of venue didn't exactly change Jamie's life much,
especially since new girlfriend Brooke (Monique Chachere) is just a big a
dick (if you will) as Bobby. Speaking of which, there's a mysterious killer
using a very big knife to off everyone (especially women) Jamie comes into
contact with. Can you say, transsexual serial killer?
Perhaps the most intriguing thing about
"Trans-American Killer" is the fact that Jamie is a stripper,
but somehow actress Cara Jo Basso manages to hide her God given assets
from the audience for the entire film. It's all the fault of
writer/director Mack Hail, of course, who tries mightily to fill the
nudity gap left wide open by his leading lady with a lot of anonymous
stripper flesh. Not that it really helps, especially since most of the
ladies that Hail does manage to persuade to drop trou are not, well, all
that attractive. And before you send me email, yes, I know, I'm being very
superficial. Then again, in a movie as devoid of substance as
"Trans-American Killer", is there any other way to approach it
save from a purely superficial level?
While she never provides gratuitous nudity, it's
undeniable that Ms. Basso is a hell of a looker (not to mention possessing
what must be zero body fat). Now if only she would stop plastering
clownish stripper make-up all over her pretty face. Basso shows up in
various skimpy attire, including a dance routine at work that should make
the men (and the female-inclined women) in the audience sit up and notice.
Alas, for those of you hoping to glimpse Basso in the nude, you'll be
disappointed. Perhaps the fact that Basso is the only good looking female
actor in the entire cast means she gets to say "No". And if you
were wondering, it's also a "No" on lesbian action involving
With the T&A signed and delivered (albeit by less
attractive flesh), we turn our attention to the gore. "Killer"
has a number of knife attacks, but there's nothing here that would turn
one's head. The only real highlight is when Bobby, in woman's dress,
crashes a New Years Eve party being held in someone's backyard and
proceeds to introduce his knife to as many partygoers as possible. There's
also a fantastic chainsaw versus knife fight that just might have saved
the film. Credit goes to Hail, who sprinkles a faux TV commercial about
chainsaws throughout the film. Who knew B-movie filmmakers could even
spell "foreshadowing", much less employ it?
For the most part the cast is hit and miss, with
Monique Chachere acquitting herself the best. As the bitchy lesbian with
an attitude, Chachere livens up the party whenever she shows up, and it's
too bad she shows up much too infrequently. Basso does fine as the Fair
Hair Lead, even if her acting gets exponentially enlarged (to almost
comical proportions) by the stripper makeup her character has on for much
of the film. The rest come and go, some ending up dead, others simply
dropping out of frame. And did I mention all the gratuitous female nudity
supplied by anonymous strippers?
As the knife-wielding transsexual killer, Eric Bishop
makes for a terribly ugly woman, not to mention a not entirely convincing
one. It's almost comical to watch Bishop try mightily to lower his voice
so that he sounds more feminine. In fact, one wonders why Hail didn't loop
all of Bishop's voice with that of a female's. It's not as if Hail never
doctors Bishop's voice, which does in fact go through audio synthesizing
on numerous occasions whenever the script requires Bishop's character to
switch from his "female voice" to his "man voice".
Bishop's funniest moment has to be near the beginning, when Bobby is
stalking a stripper and you can see actor Bishop struggling with all his
might not to fall in the high heels he has to wear. Now that's funny
"Trans-American Killer" is not altogether
bad. As mentioned, it's just 65 minutes, with the final 25 minutes needed
for video release stuffed with a long ending credit sequence, music
videos, and a brief behind-the-scenes look at the New Years Eve massacre
sequence. There's no denying that Hail and company knows the genre, and
knows what the niche audience demands. Except for cheats concerning nudity
by the lead, "Killer" basically fulfills its unwritten contract.
As such, "Trans-American Killer" will surely entertain those who
seek it out by name.