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Image Entertainment presents
Teenage Gang Debs/Teen-Age Strangler (1966/1965)

"Come on, turkey. I'm gonna cut you up, turkey."
- Johnny Giorgiano (John Batis) in Teenage Gang Debs

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: April 27, 2001

Stars: Diane Conti, Joey Naudic, John Batis, Bill Bloom, John Ensign, Stacy Smith, Jo Canterbury
Other Stars: Linda Gale, Sandra Kane, George Winship, Tom Eldred, Rick Harris, John Humphries
Director: Sande N. Johnson / Ben Parker

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, drug use, sexual situations, teenage delinquency, brief nudity)
Run Time: 02h:13m:46s
Release Date: April 24, 2001
UPC: 014381975222
Genre: cult

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Since teenagers were one of the biggest target audiences of the drive-in theater during its 1960s heyday, it was only natural that teenagers would be one of the most popular themes of the short B-movies that were the staples of the circuit. The more violence, sex and delinquency that was promised, the more teens would show up, hopefully hungry for food from the concession stand. Something Weird Video resuscitates the long-defunct art of the drive-in with this disc centering on teenage terror of several different varieties.

Teenage Gang Debs (1966)

"You listen to me. You're top man, right? You killed a guy to get there. Man, you want this rumble. You gotta get out there and kill so that everybody can see ya. You killed Johnny, remember? You don't come on strong, you're gonna wind up with a hole in your gut."
Terry Fiore (Diane Conti)

First is a nasty little black and white feature that centers on the girls (since they're all supposedly 17, Mr. PC) that hang on to the members of a New York City gang, the Rebels. Newcomer Terry Fiore (Diane Conti) insinuates herself into the circle, taking the Prez of the gang, Johnny (John Batis) for herself. When she learns of his fondness for carving his initials into his conquests, she turns to Nino (Joey Naudic), whom she inspires to kill Johnny and seize leadership of the gang himself. From there on, Terry is a teenage Lady Macbeth, convincing Nino to be ever more brutal, setting up rumbles in the name of consolidating power. But this kind of life makes a great many enemies, and before long Terry finds out what it's like to be on the receiving end of a reign of terror.

The cast is populated by the usual group of elderly teenagers that one finds in such films. Diane Conti is delightfully fiendish as the remorselessly scheming plotter, and Joey Naudic agreeably stupid and easily pushed around for sexual favors. The story is actually pretty good, treating the gang as a happy family until the outsider wrecks things with her haughty attitude and desire to stop at nothing to get what she wants. The main defect of this picture is the huge amount of padding present. There are two interminable dance scenes with painfully bland jazz music, and a gang rumble that looks like a reel swiped from some other film altogether. None of the characters in the rest of the film are readily visible in this segment, which goes on and on and on.

Some interesting technique is on display here, with hand-held cameras and extremely rapid cuts lending excitement to the fight scenes, which would otherwise probably look pretty silly. One must say that the filmmakers knew their audience, though; during the dance sequences the camera invariably ends up focusing on vibrating bosoms.

However, there is also plenty of nasty violence and brutality, which would surely have please the 1966 audiences anxious to see the worst of the big city.

Teen-age Strangler (1965)

"It couldn't have been one of the kids! It couldn't have....could it?"
Betty (Jo Canterbury)

The companion feature is a brief color film that today is notorious through MST3K for its goofiness. One after another, teenage girls are strangled with stockings. Young Betty (Jo Canterbury) nonetheless sneaks out at night to meet drag racer Jimmy (John Ensign), a member of the Fastbacks. Betty witnessed one of the killings, and believes that she saw the bulldog logo of the Fastbacks on the killer's coat. All of them have an alibi....except for Jimmy. When the killings continue, the net closes in on him even more. But is it him? Or fellow fastback Curly? Or dweeby little brother Mikey (John Humphries)?

There is also a fair amount of padding in this picture, including a bizarrely out-of-place musical number, "Yipes Stripes." Oddly enough, the teenagers seem completely oblivious to the fact that there is a serial killer in their town. Particularly hilarious is the televised speech from the local sheriff that wouldn't be any more wooden if he were a ventriloquist's dummy. Not as horrific as the companion feature, this picture hurtles along its brief running time like a train off its rails. Little suspense is generated, and the mystery is pretty thin indeed.

This certainly isn't high art but it makes for a fairly entertaining little package.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Both features and all of the extras are presented in the original 1.33:1 format. Teenage Gang Debs is from a print in fairly rough shape, but it's watchable. Contrast is slightly high, causing a loss of some highlights. Some speckling is evident throughout. Teen-Age Strangler is from a pristine print that shows no damage whatsoever. A couple of scenes tend to have characters with an orangish skintone, but most of the picture is quite natural and attractive. There is significant moire as a result of interlacing on the various patterns worn by the women in the film.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: As befits a drive-in disc, the sound is 1.0 mono (though it's through the center speaker, not the left front). The sound on Debs is pretty bad; it's crackly, scratchy and full of hiss. The music is tinny throughout and there is an occasional electronic buzzing that is highly irritating. The sound on Strangler is a little better, with a fuller range to the music and much less audio noise to be heard. The latter film ranks about a B-; the former about a D+, with the grade being an average of the two.

Audio Transfer Grade: C


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
2 Original Trailer(s)
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Cats, The Weird Lovemakers, Damaged Goods, The Crawling Hand, "Our Man" Steel, Four Boys and a Gun
Packaging: Snapper
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Let's Go To The Drive-In Feature
  2. Short, Headed for Trouble
  3. Short, Dance Little Children
Extras Review: Something Weird Video nicely recreates the drive-in experience on this disc, with the option to go to the drive-in. This sets in motion a vast array of trailers, commercials, countdowns and tempting food spots that nicely simulates the drive-in. There are a couple of flaws here, one of which is that a few intermission films are run at the very beginning (though one can chalk that up to a drunken projectionist). More objectionable is the digitized SWV logo which appears on every single extra, including the shorts and the trailers. This is very obnoxious, and I wish they'd leave it off, or at least just flash it briefly. However, it stays up all the time. At least it is slightly lower contrast than the earlier incarnations of the logo on Something Weird DVDs, but it's still annoying.

Two teen delinquency shorts are included to admonish those naughty teens. The first is a yawningly self-congratulatory police scare film put out by the Prince George's County police department, Headed for Trouble (32m:51s). This short is interminable, dry and just plain awful. The one highlight is the appearance of a young Jason Miller (Damien Karras from The Exorcist) as a sneering J.D. More entertaining, though much goofier, is an anti-VD film put out by the Kansas Board of Health, Dance Little Children (25m:06s). In this short, the state board of health jumps on a syphilis epidemic amongst teens 12 to 19 in small Oakdale, Kansas, and the ever-hopeless efforts to trace the sexual partners of all these teens. It's amazing to see the relative innocence of the effort poured into attempting to frighten teens out of sex via a curable disease; if they only knew what was coming down the road for the next generation or two.....

Wrapping up the package there are a variety of beaten-up trailers, all of which involve teens in trouble or naughty sexual practices (with the odd inclusion of a Japanese S&M film!), making for a complete evening that will run nearly four hours in total.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

Another of Something Weird's Drive-In Discs, chockfull of the mid-1960s experience. While the double feature films aren't very well-made, the set makes for a fun look at what adults thought teenagers were like. Oh, and don't forget to return the speaker to the stand when you leave!


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