"He was their JUDGE... JURY... and EXECUTIONER!"
The movie kicks off with us following our first victim. She's a nurse who's been getting some real creepy calls lately. Out of the kindness of her heart she picks up a young girl hitchhiking who seems nice enough. Little does she know this girl is a member of a Manson Family style cult and she has plans to throw an awesome cult party at the house. Things go South quickly when our victim complains about the noisy, joint ashing hippies keeping her from getting some sleep. She escapes only to fall into another sleazed up situation, and only then are we introduced to the killer in the story.
This first story is one of the most jarring ways a film could possibly open. So many horrible events for victim number one are crammed into such a short period of time that it's staggering. All to just be snuffed out with the swiftness from Clement Dunne. The second story gives the viewer a little time to get a chance to breathe after all the atrocities committed in the first. Although the body count is the highest in this segment it is easily the most tame of the three. There are some great moments in this one that almost feel as though they were influenced by Italian cinema from this period. Dunne systematically picks off a group of people working on a model shoot. Soon after we're right back in full blown sleaze mode with chapter three in this twisted tale. Complete with roofies, rape and degradation it is amazing that director John Peyser (mostly known for television shows) went so balls out in the only horror film he directed in his career.
Andrew Prine plays this sharp dressed killer like a champ. He possesses a certain cold, emptiness that really sets this flick off with the perfect tone. As he approaches the victims with his calm and collected demeanor it's hard not to be blown away by his performance. His performance really hits its peak with the final victim during the chase scene. Between his performance and the perfect setting for this sequence it easily lands its spot as one of the best finales to ever grace the screen in horror history. The acting all around in The Centerfold Girls is pretty solid but as usual during this era Prine steals the spotlight.
The Centerfold Girls is the perfect example of the straight up mean spirited, nasty films the exploitation circuit was churning out in the 70's. The film plods along with no intention of letting even the slightest moment of being apologetic slip. This kind of grit and grime is something we don't see often in the horror films of this day and age. This is without a doubt an essential piece of trashy exploitation that should hold a spot in any horror fans collection. Given the films release date it could also be considered one of the earliest slashers. If any readers out there haven't seen this film and are into the more gritty, mean serial killer/slasher flicks it is HIGHLY recommended that you pick this up. GET IT.