deadly pickup

This is the latest Retromedia film from writer/director Dean McKendrick. Following the trend began with June’s Model For Murder, this ia another attempt to move away from the sci-fi comedies that Retromedia had been primarily producing in recent years, and present more erotic thrillers. Unfortunately, the effort doesn’t pay off as well this time around.

Carter Cruise, in her softcore debut, takes the starring role in this film. She plays Breezy Johnson, a young woman whose hobby is meeting and seducing strangers and then killing them. Usually, she likes to kill them right at the exact moment of her having an orgasm. And she does so via a ring she wears on her right hand, which carries a small prick in it filled with some kind of fatal poison. At the moment of climax she sticks the person in the neck with her ring, killing them instantly (most of the time, although there is one inconsistent scene). And that’s all we are told about this woman. There are a few extra details revealed about her later in the film, (which I’ll save to not “spoil” everything), but we’re never really given any reason or motivation for why Breezy does this.

The film opens with her standing along the road in some small beach town, where she is picked up by a local college student named Josh (played by Michael Hopkins). After some brief small talk, where Breezy is suitably vague about her background but extremely flirtatious, Josh pulls over to the side of the road and the two have sex in the back of his SUV. After killing him, she gets dressed, steals his wallet, and simply walks away, leaving his dead body in the car on the side of the road.

Instead of continuing her way out of the town, she walks to a nearby house, owned by young married couple named Brian and Traci, who have placed an ad in the local paper looking for a tenant to rent out their spare bedroom. We learn that Brian (played by William F. Bryant) is studying to be an engineer and Traci (played by Kira Noir) is currently working overtime as a waitress to support Brian, which is why they need the extra-income from renting the room. Carter shows up, claims to have enrolled in the local college and, despite Traci’s clear hesitation about letting this beautiful young woman move into their house (and who could blame her?), she is given the room. Mike Gaglio and Billy Snow play the local Sheriffs, Bates and Randall, who find Josh’s body and investigate the crime. Rounding out the cast is Cody Deal as Charlie, the bartender and boss at the bar that Traci works at.

Breezey quickly resumes her killing spree, walking along the beach the next day and coming across a man named Rick (Jon Fleming), whom she seduces, going back with him to his nearby parked minivan and having sex with him in the back of it. Later we see her bringing a woman named Sarah (Sarah Hunter), whom she supposedly picked up at a bar (we don’t see that meeting) back to Brian and Traci’s house, while they’re not home, and having sex with her in her bedroom. While Breezy does stab Sarah in the neck with her poisoned ring at the moment of climax (specifically, while Sarah was going down on her), she doesn’t stab Rick with the ring until after the sex is over. And while Rick appears to die instantly, like Josh did, we later see him arise and stumble out of the van before he finally dies and his dead body is found on the beach, a few feet away from his van. Sarah apparently dies instantly (either from the poison or being being suffocated between Breezy’s legs), although we don’t see what happened to her body after Breezy kills her.

When the Sheriff’s find Rick’s body, they realize that they have a serial killer on the hands. Randall is sent out to interview local residents, including Brian, Traci, and Breezy, who all insist that they don’t know anything. But now both Brian and Traci are a little suspicious of Breezy and each do a little snooping on their own. And realizing that the law is on to her, Breezy begins to make her move on Sheriff Randall. . .

I won’t spoil any more of the story. Just that, in my opinion, it wraps up a little too neatly for my tastes. Let me be very clear, the cast in this movie all do a great job with the material that they are given. So this is no fault of theirs. It’s just that the entire story feels rather by-the-numbers. Like I said, we’re given no motivation for Breezy or why she does what she does.  The film just sort of moves along, someone has sex then someone gets killed, until it ends at about an hour and 15 minutes. The money struggles of Brian and Traci is the closest we get to any actual type of characterization. Again, this is no fault of the cast. Carter, in particular, really does a good job in this leading role. And that’s crucial as she has the most screen time, so you could say it’s all on her shoulders (and other body parts). She has the nice innocent-looking face, and plays that well, while also looking seductive. I just feel like if her character had been fleshed out more, giving her a chance to show some real evilness, it could have been even better. But this really is a great start for her, and Retromedia would be wise to bring her back for more features. I was also very impressed with Kira Noir. I’ve said before how much I want to see more Black actors and actresses in these softcore films, so her presence was appreciated just for that. But she also showed herself to be a capable actress, and I hope that Retromedia brings her back in more expansive roles. Sarah Hunter is one of my favorites, but she didn’t really have much acting to do her, her appearance was mostly just the sex scene (more on that in a minute).  And the male cast members also did a fine, especially Billy Snow, who played a policeman in Model For Murder. I think they should have had him play the same character, also bringing back Erika Jordan as his partner, and have this film be a sort to sequel to that one. Retromedia could have all their murder mysteries be part of a series, with the same detectives as the recurring characters in each film. Just a thought.

As for the sex scenes, there were six, five of which included Carter Cruise. In addition to the aforementioned scenes with Hopkins, Fleming, and Hunter. She also has sex scenes with Billy Snow and Cody Deal. This is the other area where Carter’s talent (and beauty, of course) shines through, as this could have easily been a mistake, with the audience getting bored just seeing the same woman over and over again in most of the sex scenes. But it works, as she is one of the best I’ve seen at making her sex scenes look real. Especially her climaxing. This woman has the best O-Face I’ve ever scene. Her scene with Sarah Hunter is, in my opinion, the best sex scene in the film.  There is also a separate scene, which I guess takes the place of what would have been the 7th sex scene (the usual number they have in these movies), during which Breezy takes a shower (as someone watches). The camera lingers over Carter’s nude body as she first washes herself before masturbating.   The sixth sex scene is between William F. Bryant and Kira Noir, and it’s pretty hot stuff itself.

So 5 STARS for the sex scenes, 4 STARS for the acting, but overall I can only give this film 3 STARS for the story.  It could have been much better.



13 replies »

  1. Thanks for the review, Chase. From your description this seems to be a darker theme than is usual for Dean McKendrick. I’m curious if this is a new direction for him or just a temporary diversion. I’ve already ordered it, so I’ll be able to judge it for myself, but it’ll take a few weeks to arrive. Postage from America to Germany is painfully slow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • From what I’ve heard, the reason for these darker themes is specifically because HBO requested it. They “ordered” three films from Retromedia, with the request that they be “erotic thrillers.” This is the 2nd ot the three, after Model For Murder. The 3rd one, LOVE MACHINE, just came out on DVD today, I’ll hopefully be able to watch it tonight and review it tomorrow.


      • Not sure what he’s talking about. I just reviewed the DVD and there’s nothing after the credits that I saw.


      • His point just seems to be that there isn’t any type of deliberate “in-joke” being made about his name. He also said there’s no after-credits scene, which I admit I never got around to checking for myself.


      • Sorry, Chace, I got mixed up this morning. I should have posted the screenshots to the comments section of “Escape to Pleasure Planet”, not here. It’s my own fault for using my computer in the morning before I’ve had my first cup of coffee.

        As for the “after credits scenes” in “Deadly Pickup”, they’re obviously an error. Whoever mastered the DVD at Bayview put something on the disc that didn’t belong there. It’s possible that Dean can’t see the scenes that we see because his disc is a clean version, a promo that Bayview sent to Retromedia, not the main print run. I’ve made a video recording of me watching the last four minutes of the film. The film ends at 1:22:00 (approximately 40 seconds into my recording). From 1:22:00 to 1:23:45 there’s a repeat of the pre-credits stills, but without sound and text. From 1:23:25 to 1:25:00 there’s landscape footage, already used in the film itself.


      • Sorry, I thought we were talking about Love Machine. Yes, what you’re seeing is obviously a mistake. At the end of each film when we deliver, we include “textless” material. This is any shot in the film that has text (credits and sometimes any text superimposed), but we include it without that writing so that foreign markets can put their own language in and cut it into the film. There was obviously a mistake when mastering, but consider it a bonus!!


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