I'm not sure how I decided on High School Hellcats, an exploitation flick from the late 50s, but I'm pretty glad that I did. It's so much fun, in an absolutely ridiculous kind of way. Part of it is that it's like a time capsule of social mores and expectations.
Joyce Martin is a good girl, but when she moves to a new school, she falls in with a bad crowd. How bad are they? Well, they have a secret clubhouse where they drink booze; rules for the club include not being nice to teachers or passing your classes with anything better than a D, and that only if you really have to; and going to crazy parties with boys. The Hellcats are ruled with an iron fist by Connie (who made me realize how badly I need to pick up a couple more pencil skirts), but when something bad happens to her at one of the "anything goes" parties, police turn up the heat on the Hellcats.
I'm making it sound way more dramatic than it actually is, and this poster is also highly misleading. Literally, none of the things that are happening here happen in the movie. There are a few chaste kisses, but absolutely no teenage girl beatdowns. In fact, the only person smacking teenage girls around is Joyce's father, who slaps her for walking around in her slip because he thinks it's "indecent." A key plot point revolves around wearing slacks to school, which is *gasp* forbidden!
In fact, the only really dramatic character is the knife wielding Dolly, who's actually pretty crazy. You know she's crazy because she's always frowning at her best friend, Connie, and of course there's the whole "playing with knives" bit.
As over the top and ridiculous as much of the film is, it's also a treasure trove of 50s style. Nothing too unexpected, but I love Joyce's wrap blouse and full, printed skirt, as well as Connie's tight pencil skirts and sweaters.
It definitely makes me want to bust out my corset come fall, and maybe invest in a good bullet bra.
High School Hellcats is streaming on Netflix right now. It's not what I'd call high entertainment, but it's a fun way to pass an hour on the couch.