Unholy Rollers (1972)

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RATING– ✮

DIRECTOR– Vernon Zimmerman

PLOT– A young woman named Karen Walker becomes fed up with her life working in a cat food factory. Seeking fame and fortune, Karen naturally turns to… roller derby(?). She grows increasingly distant to her friends and family as the glitz and glamour of that decadent roller derby life turn her into an entitled, out of control diva.


5 REASONS TO WATCH

  1. Drama: Roller Derby Style Who knew the life of a roller derby queen was so Kardashian’esque. Lots of money, lots of screaming, lots of nude asses.
  2. Big Money Endorsements Lebron James has Nike. Brad Pitt has Chanel. Taylor Swift has Capitol One Credit Cards. And Roller Derby Star Karen Walker has… The Amazing Rocket Chair: A vibrating recliner!
  3. Workplace Romance Karen, newly minted as roller derby’s next big star, has all sorts of men in her life to choose from. A manager who sexually harasses her at every turn, a team owner only interested in her talent to sell tickets and make him some cash, and a fellow team member who introduces her to guns and domestic violence. For some reason, she chooses one of them and, predictably, their relationship goes off the rails. It makes for a fantastic episode of Maury Povich! (but a quite depressing film)
  4. Roller Derby Broadcast Teams Probably 1/4 of this movie is an almost unintelligible play by play broadcast team indiscernibly describing exactly what is being shown on screen, over a cacophony of the audience cheering and clapping and stomping their feet. (In fact, the dialogue throughout the entire movie is drowned out by background noise) It’s as if they are trying to paint a picture for a radio audience who can’t see the action. Unfortunately, we can. It’s a needlessly tedious experience trying to figure out what the announcers are describing, only to realize it’s precisely what you are seeing. I guess the director never heard the old filmmaking adage “Show it, don’t say it”.
  5. Pissed Off Women I guess the one redeeming value (if you can even call it that) for Unholy Rollers is that Karen is a strong woman. She doesn’t take crap from any man that tries to give it to her. She takes what she wants and does what she wants, not conforming to society’s idea of what a woman should be. Mix that personality trait with some empathy, and you have a strong well-rounded woman worth admiration. Unfortunately, Karen lacks any empathy whatsoever which results in her acting more like a spoiled child than a modern woman. A wasted opportunity to justify this film.

Unholy Rollers has no idea what it wants to be. A personal drama of a woman slowing descending into a hell of her own design. A teenage sex comedy complete with a dumb-as-nails jock screwin’ the hot chick every chance he gets. A lifetime romance movie featuring the ever present on-again/off-again relationship with the complicated boyfriend. None of it works. In fact, unless you just can’t get enough of hairy people roller skating around and around and around a track, I’d stay away from this movie.

In the 1970’s, exciting action like this would draw thousands. Honestly.