Tammy lives a regular teenage life, with an overbearing bible-thumping mother-in-law who hates filth and a father who would do anything for her daughter, whether it be beheading a donkey that got an erection at her birthday party or having her walk over his face in stilettos. You know, standard family stuff.

However, Tammy’s awakening sexual desire, love of punk rock, and need to escape make her a ticking timebomb of teenage sexual frustration. Blonde Death signals the rebirth and rise of young Tammy as she finds romance in a wandering murderer and grabs life by the balls to write her own story. 


James Dillinger’s only feature instantly evokes a degree of frustration, knowing that the film is the only offering from the director. Lost in the slew of SOV films, its unearthing and new life through Bleeding Skull provides a rare insight into a profound movie talent that never came to be. 

Blonde Death may be the most quotable and tightly written production from the SOV format. A gritty and trashy coming-of-age film with dialogue that matches the same bravado of a John Waters film. Give the movie a budget, a recognizable cast, and the same script, and the film would have become a cult success of the 80s as opposed to the bargain bin find of a lifetime.

This is the type of film you will also want to watch repeatedly, as the word salad that spews out from some characters is hard to take in all in one go. The casual mention of beheading a donkey to the crass bravado of lines like “Why don’t you invite me in for tea and sit on my face” evoke a sense of glee that sometimes bleeds into the following one-liner.

Adding additional appeal, Blonde Death is surprisingly progressive and queer-friendly for the era. Certainly not up to modern-day expectations, especially considering the over-deviant tone and one-liners like “You know the rules, loser takes it up the ass.” Essentially, the film takes a familiar ‘fuck you’ punk-like attitude that is unapologetically crass (like John Waters), an approach that won’t be to all tastes.

The cast of Blonde Death went onto equal obscurity, with only actor Sara Lee Wade as Tammy having a few bit parts in subsequent productions. While this is not as criminal as the short-lived career of director James Dillinger, the cast helps sell the lines and play off of each other wonderfully. In particular, Sara Lee Wade comes across as ‘that girl your mother warned out about,’ with a bit of southern charm and just the right amount of crazy that is equal parts enticing and fearsome.

The quality will not be a significant issue for SOV fans, with the fact that the audio is competent being the only real thing worth mentioning—though the film does score some bonus points for its punk soundtrack with music from the Angry Somaons. The only downside of the production, which keeps it shy of perfection in the sub-genre, is the pacing. The film never really pauses, wherein someone like John Waters understands that as consistent and dialogue-heavy his humor is that moment of pause by inserting dance scenes or hotdogs tied to a cock adds comedy and gives a bit of breathing room.

James Dillinger’s Blonde Death may very well be the best revenge film ever in the SOV format, or at least the best written. Its sharp witty dialogue and unabashed approach make this one a must-watch for fans of outsider cinema and those who enjoy punk aesthetic.


We watched Blonde Death (1984) at Fantastic Fest 2023

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