Teenage Gang Debs (1966)

Teenage Gang Debs PosterSmall time tale about a small time hood manipulated by his girlfriend (or “deb” in the movie’s parlance) who has dreams of achieving the big time in 1960s New York City gang culture.

Terry has just moved with her two square folks from Manhattan to whatever scurve part of the east coast it is where guys in leather jackets carry switch blades, hang out in restaurants, and gossip endlessly about what group of goofs rumbled with what other group of goofs the Saturday night before.

Back in Manhattan, Terry was the deb of the leader of the Golden Falcons, but then her parents had to move so now she’s looking to join the Rebels. Just how cool are you if you to have switch gangs like changing schools every time your parents move? And why aren’t you living with the leader of the Golden Falcons anyway? You are his deb, aren’t you Terry?

Terry wastes little time making friends with the kids in her new school, I mean gang, once she sashays into their hangout and accepts Nino’s invitation to stay awhile. Johnny, the charisma-impaired leader of the Rebels immediately takes a liking to her much to the consternation of his current deb, Pigface. (I think that’s what Terry called her anyway.)

Johnny fires Pigface as his broad, but gang rules state that if some new deb wants to move in on some other deb’s old man, they have to settle it Rebel-style. Okay, all together now: CATFIGHT!

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What follows is a rather silly affair involving these two rolling around the pool hall floor, pulling each other’s hair, wrestling, tearing up clothes, and even biting! It’s pretty much as funny as it sounds, but also demonstrates one of the movie’s more annoying traits. During scenes like this one, it’s like the scriptwriter and the editor decided that it would be a good time to take a breather.

Like the DJ who puts on “American Pie” late at night, so that he can go take a dump, the movie almost urges its audience to go off and make a sandwich during these lengthy interludes. There’s no dialogue or plot advancement during these sequences and you’re treated to more of the same during scenes of knife fights, rumbles, and most frightening of all, at the big dance. Clearly added to pad out the minimalistic story, these bits only serve as an unwelcome interruption to classic gang dialogue and the laughable schemes that Terry cooks up in her quest to become queen of Gangland, U.S.A.

Once Terry becomes Johnny’s deb, he demands that she let him carve his initials into her because he always marks his women. It doesn’t sound like a bad idea, because that way if you happen to leave your deb laying around the clubhouse, you don’t have to worry about Nino mistakenly picking her up.

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In spite of all the rights and privileges that go along with being the main squeeze of the Prez (including exclusive access to Johnny’s private room where he keeps trophies like different blades, a cheesy sign on the wall saying something about how great the Rebels are, and what looks to be a pair of black lace bloomers tacked up on the wall above the bed), Terry decides that her avenue towards greater powers lies with Nino.

Johnny is Nino’s best friend and is reluctant to succumb to Terry’s advances, but all thoughts of friendship and repercussions are tossed aside once Terry plays her trump card. That would of course be her asking Nino if he wasn’t man enough to handle her and Johnny. The next thing we know, Nino is in Johnny’s private suite making time with the First Lady of the Rebels!

It doesn’t take long for Johnny to wonder just what the devil is going on in his trophy room and demands that Nino come out and explain himself. He does just that with a blade that Terry hands him from the trophy room. Oh, the irony! Betrayed by not only your own deb, but by one of your own blades! Oh, and by your best friend, too. Et tu, Nino?

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Nino becomes the new Prez and Terry asserts herself as the power behind the throne by demanding that Nino’s old deb be taken to a back room and lined up for the rest of the guys in the gang. That should make her popular with the male contingent of the gang if not with the remaining debs. Terry provides some great lines during all this, going on about how Nino’s old deb was dirty and that she’s just a “crud.”

But Terry isn’t going to allow her second term as First Lady to be consumed by such administrative matters as disposing of the crud in the gang. She wants Nino to make a play for more territory and power, though she never is able to provide much of a reason for it. Her attempts to orchestrate a rumble with a rival gang as well as her setting up some other Rebels eventually lead to the sort of disaster that reminded me of the biblical saying “the cruds shall inherit the Earth.”

Fans of movies containing dated hood slang and hilarious dance crazes will no doubt want to join the Rebels for this particular DVD rumble. One song in particular (the catchy “Black Belt”) provides us with the best moments of the film when you get to see the Rebels do a dance that incorporates kung fu moves into it. I think you’ll agree that that was one pointless scene that didn’t go on nearly long enough.

This is another double feature, extra-loaded DVD from Something Weird, so even if Teenage Gang Debs by itself is fairly unremarkable, the fact that it’s also served up along with Teen-Age Strangler, a couple of shorts about VD and delinquents, trailers, and other stuff means that you will have little trouble getting plenty of gang bang for your buck.

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