If nothing else, "Streetwalkin' " (citywide) proves that a woman can exploit extreme violence against both women and men just as surely as a man can. That director Joan Freeman does it with such skill makes this movie seem all the more repugnant. A feature debut could scarcely be more cynical.
There's no denying that Freeman, who wrote the script with her producer-husband Robert Alden, knows how to grab us and plunge us into the garish, ultra-dangerous world of Manhattan hookers. The credits are barely over when a desperate teen-age runaway (Melissa Leo), accompanied by her younger brother (Randall Batinkoff), is snared and turned out by a smooth-talking, handsome pimp (Dale Midkiff).
There's not a wasted second in the tightly structured "Streetwalkin' " as it propels Leo toward catastrophe with explosive force. Leo has barely hit the streets when Midkiff, as a raging psychopath, beats his other woman (Deborah Offner, very effective) to death when she tries to leave him. In her terror and naivete, Leo decides to "choose" another pimp (Leon Robinson), which is tantamount to a declaration of war with Midkiff.
"Streetwalkin'," Roger Corman's premiere production for his newly formed Concorde Pictures, doesn't tell us anything new about the psychology of hookers and their pimps, but Freeman and Alden spent enough time with prostitutes in several Eastern cities to bring to the film a distinct freshness and grit. (The raw, shadowy look that cinematographer Steven Fierberg has given the film is sensationally--in both senses of the word--effective.)