review for The Violent Years on AllMovie

The Violent Years (1956)
by Fred Beldin review

Edward D. Wood Jr. isn't mentioned in the credits of this Headliner Productions film, but it's a documented fact that the screenplay is his and The Violent Years was a moneymaker on the low-budget circuit at the time of its original release. While not as confounding as some of the pieces that Wood directed himself, there's plenty of garish action packed into its slender running time as well as the subconcious sexual gymnastics that Wood's fans have come to expect from his work. The four gang members are named Phyllis, Paula, Geraldine, and Georgia, but refer to each other as Phil, Paul, Jerry, and George. An attack on a young couple results in the girl being stripped and bound with her own clothes while the gang rapes the poor boy in the forest. A combination birthday/pajama/petting party is held in Paula's honor, and the girls are clearly in control of the action. When an uninvited guest comments on a particularly amorous couple by staring past Paula's brassiered bosom and remarking, "That's a nice pair," she tops him with a tart "They have their points." This salaciousness, as well as the girls' healthy disrespect for values and good judgement (Paula's final words are "So what?") is plenty of fun when juxtaposed against the restraint the filmmakers had to use, given the restrictive era that this exploitative morality play was produced in. The result is a tightly wound alarm clock of B-movie desires that is just bursting to ring in an era of permissiveness that was still over a decade away. Indeed, Wood later revamped the screenplay for use in 1974's Fugitive Girls, when the concept of teenage devil dolls could be exploited to its fullest capacity.