Despite a generous helping of gratuitous nudity, it's hard to believe that Tomcats -- a tough, gritty, surprisingly mean but well-made revenge thriller -- was directed by the same man who also made the goofy skinflicks Strange Rampage and My Third Wife George. But, yes indeed, director HARRY E. KERWIN was one of the pioneers of Florida exploitation whose career not only included the above sexploitation gems, but ran the gamut from doing makeup effects for Love Goddesses of Blood Island and Sting of Death to writing Playgirl Killer to producing and directing the full-frontal nudist-camp skinflicks Girls Come Too and Sweet Bird of Aquarius. With sexploitation dead by 1975, Kerwin moved into the more drive-in-friendly brand of explotation and collaborated with actor-producer-writer WAYNE CRAWFORD on God's Bloody Acre, a neat little hillbilly killfest which also starred Crawford under the name "Scott Lawrence." Happy with the results, they teamed up again for the shot-in-Miami Tomcats, a vicious little ode to R-rated sex and violence, aka Getting Even, Deadbeat, and Avenged.
18-year-old waitress Wendy Garett is closing a roadside diner for the night when cowboy M.J. (Crawford) and his three goonish shit-for-brains pals enter with robbery in mind but, what the hell, decide to murder her as well. A couple of nights later, they do it again by robbing another diner and murdering another waitress. Pulled over for a traffic infraction, the idiots drunkenly confess to the murders and are arrested. But, surprise, surprise, the four -- who are presented as the skeeviest lowlives to ever walk the earth -- are freed on a legal technicality which obviously outrages Wendy's older brother Cullen (CHRIS MULKEY of Patti Rocks). Despite being a law student, Cullen decides to abandon the legal system and get justice the old fashioned way -- by killing the bastards one by one....
Of course, no Kerwin film would be complete without brother WILLIAM KERWIN on board, and the star of Blood Feast and Two Thousand Maniacs not only gives another damn-near perfect performance as Cullen's detective uncle (under the moniker "Thomas Dowling") but was also the film's production manager. Crawford -- who also starred in one of Florida's most eccentric horror movies, Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things -- teamed with the Kerwins on two more, Cheering Section and Barracuda, before moving on to the mainstream with films like Valley Girl, Night of the Comet, and Jake Speed. He's marvelously repulsive as the sadistic and utterly amoral M.J. So much so that, like most "revenge" movies, Tomcats stacks the deck against the killers to the point where there isn't much of a moral dilemma in Cullen's murder spree. In fact, one is so anxious to see the scumbags killed that watching Tomcats is a bit like being part of a celluloid lynch mob.
From a 35mm ignore-the-law print. -- Luther Heggs
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Starring: CHRIS MULKEY
Co-starring: POLLY KING
Other cast: Wayne Crawford, WILLIAM KERWIN
Directed by: HARRY E KERWIN
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