- Featured: John Graham
- Release Date: 9/1/2009
Mix three bad girls, one desert, a ruthless crime lord, 1,473 exotic weapons, $206 million in stolen diamonds and more cleavage than you can shake a stick at, and you'll get Bitch Slap - a rip-roaring, sexy mashup of the audacious sexploitation films of the sixties and seventies. Like Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! Injected with a lethal cocktail of estrogen, pheromones and steroids, Bitch Slap hits hard with machine-gun battles, corny jokes, knock-'em-out fisticuffs and even a refreshing slow-motion water fight. When three busty babes arrive at a desert hideaway to steal over $200 million from a ruthless underworld kingpin, things quickly spiral out of control. Hel (Erin Cummings), the caper's mastermind, is a corporate bombshell with a taste for vengeance. Trixie (Julia Voth) is the bait, a gorgeous stripper with a heart of gold and a dress to match, irresistible to men and women alike. Camero (Ameríca Olivo) is the drug-running, man-hating psycho killer who trusts nobody but herself. Allegiances are switched, truths are revealed, criminals are unmasked (and undressed) and nothing is quite what it seems as the fate of the world is precariously balanced among this trio of smouldering, sexy femmes fatales. Bitch Slap knows never to take itself too seriously. Thanks to it's tongue-in-cheek script, the film flips tired sexual stereotypes and clichés. Director Rick Jacobson wrote and produced this latest feature with partner Eric Gruendemann, with whom he first worked on the cult TV sensations Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. The three strong-willed leads are also to be credited for Bitch Slap's wild thrills. They were put through their paces by action director Zoe Bell, Uma Thurman's stunt double for Kill Bill, who starred in Death Proof and can be seen as a roller-derby hellcat in Drew Barrymore's Whip It. The cast tossed aside any prim, ladylike mannerisms for a tough rumble in the dirt, and it's clear they're having a grand time whooping it up in this femme-tastic fight fantasy. Bitch Slap is full of clever nods to the down-and-dirty sexploitation classics, but these saucy minxes are no copycats - they're prepared to grab the old genre by the balls, drag it, kick it, crush it and mix it all up. -- description by Colin Geddes Composer John R Graham on scoring 'Bitch Slap' In my experience, the function of the music in the film -- what it is supposed to be doing there -- determines the basic vocabulary of what we do when scoring. Sometimes music comments, sometimes informs (some feeling that's not explicit but that we can introduce), sometimes creates fear or energy or what have you. Because Bitch Slap is a parody, the music to some extent parodies existing styles. It latches on to some of the cliches (70s guitar anthems) because the style of music that was used in the kinds of films that the film is parodying and, perhaps, that's the kind of music that the characters might listen to. So one function of the score is to harken back to old B movies and remind us of the cheesy vibe they had. But at the same time, parodies that merely mock a genre risk losing steam in 20 minutes and boring the audience. It's one reason most sketch comedy shows, even the genius Pythons, limit much of their material to fairly short scenes. So inevitably, in order to avoid offering the same joke over and over ('look at us mocking cheesy movies and cleavage ha ha') and thereby getting tedious, good parodies actually morph into an example of the films they are mocking -- a legitimate contestant in the genre being parodied. Bitch Slap, while parodying B-movies, is itself a B-movie too. It mocks itself and the genre, but at the same time lards on the guns, cars, explosions, tough-talking wrong-side-of-the-tracks characters (and cleavage) of it's antecedents, to the point where it becomes, to a great extent, exactly what it derides. Because, then, the movie is not solely a parody, the music, while alluding to comedy elements that would dominate a full-on cartoonish parody, actually must support a modern take on B-movie music, taking the movie seriously, as if it were not a joke at all but actually a dead-serious crime/betrayal movie with lots of explosions and gunfire. Which is a long way of saying that the music predominantly acts as the straight man and, given that, must be a 'real' score. And if that is true and the score is going to succeed, it has to embody the expectations of the audience and mock them, but also actually seek to be legitimate score. In the case of Bitch Slap, this idea of 'legitimate score' wouldn't apply to some tracks, like 'Alpine Hi-Jinks,' or 'Eastern Premesis,' which are unalloyed parodies, but for the most part, as with tracks like 'Hel No,' the music aims at pretty full-on regular-but-twisted-and-thunderous underscore. So back to the function of the score -- the score in this case has to make the movie funny in places but, much more importantly, support the basic story-line thread, keeping it legitimate and interesting. That basic story line involves violence, crime, and betrayal (plus some 'relationship' stuff between morally-challenged folk), so for the most part the score has to be a score for that kind of movie. But, because it is after all a comedy / parody too, along the way there are some odd scenes that go so far in a stylised direction that they have to be dealt with directly. That led to the score alluding to lots of other styles when the film does -- 'Pinky's Ride' has a lot of guitars in it, which were attempting to parody the 1970s, but also gets corralled back into action/crime movie with tons of heavy drums and vocals and whatnot, just to inoculate the music from becoming solely a parody -- because, again, the main function of the music is to help the audience suspend disbelief and accept the legitimacy of the story line. John Graham holds degrees from Williams College and Stanford University, and has composed the music for movie trailers, television, and more than a dozen feature films. John has written music for Disney, Universal, Warner Brothers, ABC, CBS and Sony. John's 2008 score for Long Flat Balls II won first prize in the Just Plain Folks awards in the Soundtrack category.