So after watching the many joys of Angie Dickinson as sexy bank robber Mama McClatchie in Big Bad Mama, there comes a 13 years later sequel directed by Jim Wynorski, the Ronald McDonald of exploitation films. Or maybe even worse than that. He’s the late night taco stand of directors. You know what you’re getting, you know how little you paid for it, so you know it will be subpar, and you know you’ll have a stomach ache the next day. But being a Big Bad Mama completist, I had to check this out.
Big Bad Mama II (1987)
Despite, spoiler alert, dying at the end of Big Bad Mama, Angie Dickinson is back, but her two girl-next-door daughters have been replaced by mega-babes Danielle Brisebois, the little girl from Archie Bunker’s Place all grown up, and infamous Playboy Playmate Julie McCullough. I’m not complaining, I’m just making an observation. McCullough is ridiculously beautiful with a winning smile. But her Hollywood career was unfairly hurt by smug, human wart Kirk Cameron. She landed a guest star role on his hit sitcom Growing Pains, where I first noticed her, as Cameron’s on-screen girlfriend. But she was getting too popular and unashamed of her Playboy career so sanctimonious Cameron had her fired. Julie is still making movies, albeit of more dubious quality, including a Sharknado sequel. But she’s always a welcome presence on-screen.
So, in an opening scene the deliciously evil, black-suited Bruce Glover has Angie’s husband murdered for not paying the mortgage on time. So Angie and her daughters go on a crime spree and vow revenge. That’s basically the plot. Just as an example of where the movie is focused, they get the jump on two-fisted newspaper man Robert Culp through a clever ruse of having the girls strip down and playfully cavort in a pond while Angie sneaks up behind him with her big pistol. That would’ve worked on me, too. Of course, Culp is a bad-ass who falls for Angie. Then Angie and the girls rob Bruce at a Governor’s Ball and kidnap Glover’s handsome stud son. McCullough falls for him during an armored car robbery and they get it on, of course. But their sisterly bond is different here as Brisebois is jealous of her sister and they fight over a boy. Where is the spirit of sisterhood where they share Tom Skerritt in the first movie?
There are joys to be found here. It’s great to have Angie Dickinson toting guns and strong-arming the sleazy men in her life. And the rowdy daughters are giving 110% effort as fist-fighting, gun-toting, and dynamite tossing Amazons. A 50-something Robert “Greatest American Hero” Culp gets an uncomfortable and badly shot love scene with Angie, so he’s clearly enjoying himself, too. Bruce Glover is giving a delightful performance as well. It helps when everybody is trying to make a movie the best it can be and having a good time doing it.
But the gleeful tone of the original Big Bad Mama is now replaced by a dour story. Like all Wynorski movies, this one’s a little cheap and tacky and humorless. It starts by showing us Hoovertowns during the Great Depression, and then we’re supposed to root for criminals living it up while regular Joes are suffering in poverty. There are jokes, like in all his movies, but Wynorski is too leering and crappy at directing to make them funny. Also highlighting the difference between Roger Corman in the ’70s and Roger Corman in the ’80s, everything is chintzier, and nastier. There’s also a crime spree montage that’s just shots from the original Big Bad Mama, just to remind us how much better that movie was.
Naturally, Bruce Glover comes back and holds McCullough hostage and there’s a big bloody shootout with Angie, her daughters, and an army of policemen. Linda Shayne, of Screwballs fame, gets a second unit directing credit, so she’s responsible for the entertaining shoot-outs. So despite being outnumbered 50 to 3, Dickinson and McCullough manage to take out about half the cops, with their revolvers versus Tommy guns. So, you know, realistic.
The main problem with the movie is that it’s so pointless. The first movie was fine, it didn’t need a sequel. Here, the girls go on the run, then lose interest in crime, so they go back to the farmhouse for the big shootout. There’s no forward progress or point to any of the story. It’s frustrating because I like the entire cast and the concept. Wynorski, you suck. That being said, on a resume that features 976-Evil II, Point of Seduction: Body Chemistry III, Komodo Vs. Cobra, Witches of Breastwick 1 and 2, and Busty Cops II, this is easily his best movie.
THE BOTTOM LINE
I enjoy Robert Culp, the tough and sexy Angie Dickinson, Danielle Brisebois’ snarling Tommy gun face, and Julie McCollough getting to show off some acting skills and her million megawatt smile, so there’s enough here to keep you entertained, but it’s not nearly as good as Big Bad Mama. At least it’s mercifully short. So consider that a mild recommendation to check it out.
SPOILER ALERT: Angie Dickinson blows the crap out of Bruce Glover with a shotgun and a geyser of karo syrup blood. So it’s an 8 out of 10 on the Monster Death Chart. That bastard deserved it.