The Teenage Prostitution Racket (1975) Blu-ray Review: Don't Try This at Home, Kids

Unapologetically sleazy and unintentionally hilarious, another Italian exploitation mess-terpiece arrives in the U.S. from RaroVideo.
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If you can envision what might happen were someone to create a ’50s style propaganda movie à la George Weiss in the vein of ’60s arthouse roughie by Doris Wishman fused with all of the sense and sensibilities of a cheap ’70s exploitation flick written by Ed Wood, there’s a fairly good possibility you might be prepared for everything The Teenage Prostitution Racket has to offer.

Even then, however, you still might not be ready.

Sewn together much in the same way a five-year-old would darn a pair of socks ‒ replete with plenty of awkward stitchings that make a comfortable fit entirely impossible ‒ The Teenage Prostitution Racket is an unforgiveably and unapologetically sleazy Italian sexploitation/Eurocrime docudrama from directors Carlo Lizzani and Mino Giarda. Originally released as Storie di vita e malavita (Racket della prostituzione minorile) in its native Italy, this marvelously cheap and unintentionally hilarious tale of godless scumbags who prey on innocent young women was filmed on location in the equally godless Milan of the ’70s.

Serving up those who dare enter its orbit with some of the worst English dubbing ever recorded (I mean, it’s no Two Female Spies in Flowered Panties, but it’s close) and an atmosphere which will require at least one good hot shower immediately after viewing, the film finds various lost girls from all walks of life making the oft-fatal mistake of getting in with the wrong crowd.

A young woman is forced to hook thanks to a shady pimp boyfriend. The neglected daughter of a rich family sells herself into the profession to get back at her folks. A wannabe model finds out what photographers really want the hard way. There’s even the required jab at Catholicism, followed by the rise (and fall) of an independent working girl who relies on her dog to protect her from a group of thugs who roam about town in a European clown car. Seriously, these guys make The Three Stooges look tough. They can’t even manage to find a roadside old lady who pimps out her 13-year-old accomplice to truckers ‒ the latter ladies being the capless Elmer’s Glue Stick intended to hold the chapters together.

Oh, and did I mention Ennio Morricone provided the soundtrack? One can only assume that’s where the entire budget of the movie (if there really was one, that is) went to.

Sadly, there’s no nudity to be found here. I’m kidding, of course ‒ there’s skin everywhere in this amazingly inept and obviously rushed production from a group of filmmakers who were eager to cash-in on a news story (and maybe exploit a few young ladies in the process). Starring a variety of mostly unknown actors and actresses, The Teenage Prostitution Racket is a very bad movie, yes. But it’s also a ridiculously charming “exposé” to the very sort of deranged mind who can find the abundance of unintentional humor in it, from the awkward opening, right down to the final soul-staining frame.

The Teenage Prostitution Racket has surfaced several times since its initial 1975 debut in somewhat different forms, the most notorious of which being a “hardcore” variant including close-up inserts of entirely different actors showing off their goods (and then some), which were then spliced in an already badly edited film. Previously, fans of Italian exploitation flicks and the morbidly curious could check out the film from RaroVideo on DVD in Italy, though without any English-friendly options. For its long-awaited (?) US videeo debut, Raro’s new Blu-ray only features the English-dubbed soundtrack, presented in LPCM 2.0 (probably taken from a fandub).

Alas, the 115-minute print used in this MPEG-4 AVC 1080p encode is missing a few minutes of footage seen in other (non “hardcore”) versions (the original Italian cut clocked in at close to 122min, according to sources), though it’s highly unlikely the average cinemasochist will make too much of a fuss. As for the transfer itself, well, it looks like there has been a good deal of DNR employed here. Again, however, considering the overall quality of the film itself, we’ll take what we can get!

Fortunately for those of you who may be curious about the unofficial explicit edit of the film, the Blu-ray includes approximately 11 minutes of said footage as a bonus. Culled from an analog videocassette source, the footage is time-coded, is definitely inferior in quality, and the audio jumps from dual to single channels throughout due to the age and condition of the video source used (something that could have easily been fixed by opening the audio in an editing program and copying the sound from one channel to the other). Either way, it’s nice (if entirely NSFW, as if the whole movie was safe!) to see the adult cuts, no matter who filmed them.

Also included here is the making-of documentary Le Baby Prostitute, which made its initial debut on their Italian DVD. Presented here with English subtitles for the first time,features interviews with filmmakers Carlo Lizzani and Mino Giarda, cinematographer Lamberto Caimi, and journalist Manolo Gomarasco. To hear these men talk about the film, you’d think it was an unparalleled triumph of filmmaking, and their constant reiterating about the ages of their actresses as well as their views on the subject matter will undoubtedly leave more cynical viewers to shake their heads, as it’s probably all bollocks.

Lastly, there’s a still gallery, disc credits, and a booklet featuring an essay by Bret Wood. The Blu-ray for The Teenage Prostitute Racket even comes with a collectible slipcover, though be warned: it was on the release so tight that I had to break into my trusty kitchen arsenal for a flat kebab skewer just to gently pry it off without tearing it to bits.

And if that’s not a fitting way to open a movie entitled The Teenage Prostitution Racket, I don’t know what is.

Recommended. To those of you who can stomach this sort of trash, that is.

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