"Teenage Girls...Wise Beyond Their Years... Foolish Beyond Help!" HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS’ first feature film, The Prime Time combines juvenile delinquency, beatniks, rock and roll, and adult sleaze into a seamlessly seedy story.
Jean (JOANNE LeCOMPTE), a bored and rebellious teenager (who looks more like an old coke whore), takes advantage of clean-teen Tony (JAMES BROOKS) when she borrows his car and uses him as her alibi to take a walk on the wild side. Unbeknownst to her family and friends, Jean is having a fling with McKeen (FRANK ROCHE), an unscrupulous police detective who’s been shacking up with her at the studio of "The Beard" (RAY GROMWOLD), a beatnik artist and well-known pervert.
While her teenage cohorts are wholesomely hanging at Luigi’s or swimming down at the quarry, McKeen tells Jean to wait for him at The Beard’s while he’s on a case. Meanwhile, The Beard is digging the scene at a dive called The Golden Goose, gets a call from McKeen, and informs Jean that loverboy can’t make it. Outraged, the junior jezebel joins The Beard at his studio, undresses, and gets her kicks by taunting and teasing the unhinged artist. Infuriated, The Beard ties her up, makes her pose for him, then stages her disappearance.
Tony waits up all night for Jean to return with his wheels. Eventually, he and gal-pal Gloria (MARIA PAVELL) go looking for his car only to find it with Jean nowhere in sight. Tony arrives home to find frantic parents and police who believe she’s run away. Tony does some detective work of his own which leads to McKeen and The Beard, neither of whom will tell him where she really is. Determined, Tony follows The Beard to his studio where he makes a deadly discovery...
The Prime Time contains all the makings of a great j.d. grinder. The beat slang and a rock combo belting out the non-hit tune "Teenage Tiger" are alone worth the price of admission. Not only was this Lewis’ first production (though directed by someone named GORDON WEISENBORN), it was also the first screen appearance of Hollywood starlet KAREN BLACK (Day of the locust), who can be spotted as one of the teeners and an artist’s model at The Golden Goose. The Prime Time marks the first association of Lewis with DAVID F. FRIEDMAN, billed as "Production Supervisor in charge of Advertising, Publicity, and Exploitation." Together they would collaborate on eleven more features and change the face of exploitation film history. A.k.a. Hell Kitten.
From a 35mm print "Primed to Explode—On Contact!" — Lisa Petrucci
Starring: JoAnn LeCompte
Co-starring: Frank Roche
Other cast: James Brooks, Ray Gromwold, Maria Pavell, Karen Black
Directed by: Herschell Gordon Lewis