Review: ‘The New Women’

Toying with the paranoid sci-fi genre of the 1950s, "The New Women" takes a wonderful premise and does all it can to undermine it. Mary Woronov heads a notable cast of pros in this distinctly amateurish thriller about what happens when a freak thunderstorm puts the Earth's male population to sleep, leaving women to fend for themselves.

Toying with, rather than investigating, the paranoid sci-fi genre of the 1950s, “The New Women” takes a wonderful premise and does all it can to undermine it. Mary Woronov, the Cal Ripken Jr. of indie stars, heads a notable cast of pros in this distinctly amateurish thriller about what happens when a freak thunderstorm puts the Earth’s male population to sleep, leaving women to fend for themselves. Placed in the hands of a helmer with the right instincts for this paradoxical non-apocalypse apocalypse, this could have been a midnight bill classic; helmer Todd Hughes, alas, ensures that pic will never escape the festival ghetto.

Lisa (Woronov) is the put-upon wife of cheating husband-cop Jay (Michael White), while sis Janet (Jaime Tolbert) has a successful grocery home delivery business in their desert community. Soon after Lisa catches Jay fooling around, a storm hits, mysteriously putting the guys into a slumber that eventually proves fatal and forcing the gals to organize. Though fable is meant to spoof notions of women banding together for peace, the survivors’ odyssey is a movie road map of missed black-comedy opportunities.

The New Women

Production

An Interzone presentation. Produced by Edward Nachtrieb, John Schliesser. Co-producers, P. David Ebersole, Kim Pesenti. Directed by Todd Hughes. Screenplay, P. David Ebersole, Hughes.

Crew

Camera (black-and-white video), Larra Anderson; editor, Daniel Gabbe; music, Cary Berger; production designer, Anna Noelle Rockwell; art director, Clint Catalyst; costume designer, Christie Wittenborn. Reviewed on videotape, L.A., July 22, 2001. (In Outfest.) Running time: 89 MIN.

With

Mary Woronov, Jaime Tolbert, Sandra Kinder, Jane Ray, Roma Maffia, Jenny Shimizu, Cheryl Dunye, Amy Hill, Tracy Reiner, Mary Scheer, Michael White, Matt North.
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