Alley Cat

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Alley Cat (1984) is the story of one woman’s vigilante crusade against crime and injustice. Karin Mani stars as the sassy and jaded karate black-belt Billie. After her grandparents are violently mugged by a couple of hoodlums who had previously tried to strip her wheels Billie takes to the street kicking the asses of every rapist and criminal that she meets. Along the way she gets herself a policeman boyfriend named Johnny (Robert Torti) who eventually helps her dole out her own brand of justice on the villainous Scarface (Michael Wayne).

Alley Cat is low budget, low brow and a total mess; it’s pure gold. This eighties exploitation gem had not one nor two but three directors (Victor M. Ordonez, Eduardo Palmos, and Al Valletta) all working under the single alias of Edward Victor. The tonal shifts and varying levels of competence throughout Alley Cat is one of its greatest charms. This little curio of the video store age feels like earnest outsider art. Alley Cat is as un-ironic as any classic after school special; broadcasting its vigilante PSA with pride.

Like so many micro budget movies of that period Alley Cat presents its viewers with a cornucopia of spectacles. There are scenes of gratuitous nudity where the entire focus of the film shifts towards Mani’s breasts and then there are some of the most poorly choreographed martial arts fight scenes that one is likely to ever see. Somehow the material between these two fetishistic components is childlike in its simplicity. All the drama designed to draw the audience in is rendered stiffly, causing the melodrama to feel all the more plastic.

All of this classic nuttiness aside, what’s really stupendous about Alley Cat is Karin Muni. She oozes toughness to the point that she even flirts with a sneer. Muni says lines like “Don’t mess with girls in the park. It isn’t nice.” as if she were Clint Eastwood. It’s abundantly clear that Muni takes her part in this insane little film seriously which, in turn, makes the film itself so much better. The viewer cares because Muni cares enough for four people. Karin Muni’s work is the definition of termite art.