When I interviewed the esteemed Producer/Director Roger Corman for Claudia Jennings’ biography, he said Unholy Rollers was his favorite of the four films Claudia appeared in for him. As Claudia’s breakthrough film, Unholy Rollers established the character she would be identified with until her death. Beautiful, fearless and ruthless, Karen Walker epitomized the Hollywood Bitch Goddess that many thought represented Claudia’s true nature. The film is noteworthy because it marked Claudia’s debut as a major B movie actress.
Adapted from Kendal Young’s 1964 novel The Ravine, Sidney Hayers’ Assault is a vicious psychological thriller. Tessa Hurst, a 16-year-old pupil of the Heatherdene School for Girls in London, decides to take a shortcut home through the woods – through an area known as the Devil’s End. Unbeknownst to Tessa, she is being stalked by an unseen assailant who, upon making himself known, proceeds to chase her as she flees in terror. With nowhere to run Tessa is assaulted, partially stripped, and raped.
“If you go down in the woods today…”
After sleazily making his way to the London Underground from the sex district, James Manfred, OBE, some big shit… shot, at the Ministry of Defense, or something, confronts a woman waiting on the platform at Russell Square tube station. “How much?” he asks. “Look darling, god knows if you are worth it… but fortunately I can afford to find out.” Her response? A swift knee to his gonads before running away! As Manfred winces in pain, something catches his eye emerging from the underground tunnel…
“Mind the doors!”
This film was typical of the drive-in features Claudia Jennings appeared in the early 1970’s, with one notable exception. Although Truck Stop Women demonstrated what audiences would identify as the quintessential Claudia Jennings character, this was no working class, feminist hero Karen Walker from Unholy Rollers… In this film, Claudia commits about every original sin and violates a few new ones. She could easily be considered one of the screen’s best villains- a living nightmare, having no feelings for fellow human beings, and perhaps the sexiest sociopath of all time.