There’s probably more exposition on the back of the box than there is in the actual movie, and that is perhaps "Streetwalkin'’s biggest problem. Similar films from this period usually feature likable characters who get over on their moxie, whereas this flick's protagonist barely gets by on nudity. In fact, "Streetwalkin'"s Cookie verges on unlikable at times, due mainly to the fact that she is creatively flat. She is naive and vulnerable, and seems pretty happy-go-lucky sucking strange dick for cash. I also kind of get the impression that if her pimp weren't occasionally abusive, life would be pretty perfect for her. There is no hint of displeasure when it comes to what she's become. Still, every streetwalker should have an edge, and Cookie comes comes across as dumb and grinning for the most part. It is her complete and utter lack of tenacity or toughness that makes it virtually impossible to feel anything for her.
The story begins as Cookie and younger brother Tim arrive at New York's Port Authority, which was like an in-door post apocalyptic wasteland at the time this film was shot, and in fact I'm surprised no one did some 42 Street sleaze that used it as a primary setting. Cookie immediately calls home and vague conversation informs us that her alcoholic mom blames her daughter for the sexual advances of her stepfather. Charming predator Duke is fast to pick up the pieces, winning the distraught girl’s trust. An undetermined amount of time flashes by, and by that point Cookie has settled into a life of prostitution, turning tricks out of Duke’s apartment. In fact, she even has a crush on him. According to her demeanor, life seems pretty carefree. Except for the fact that Duke will occasionally slap the shit out of a bitch.
In “Vice Squad,” which is the undeniable mothership of movies on this particular topic, and an obvious influence on this film, the main character, Princess, is clearly caught up in a moral struggle regarding her career. She does what she must to support her daughter, and the scenes where she sells her body for money are either funny or creepy, but never sexy. Even the title character in the classic “Angel” has been driven to a life of prostitution following the death of her mother, but she is certainly ashamed of her path. Both of these characters embody an admirable toughness though that makes them feel like underdogs worth cheering for. Cookie on the other hand is very weak. In fact, the villain is, unintentionally, the only sympathetic character in this movie.
Similar to “Vice Squad” in basic plot, the bulk of the story has to do with a tough pimp out for vengeance against the prostitute who wronged him. After her friend and fellow working girl is brutally beaten by Duke, Cookie jumps ship, joining rival hustler Jason's stable of bitches. To protect Cookie, Jason orders Duke’s execution. Duke fights his way out of the hit, though, and he’s soon back on the streets looking for the traitorous Cookie.
Dale Midkiff, whom most will recognize as Louis Creed from “Pet Semetary,” delivers a performance packed with pathos as Duke. He may be a woman abusing scum bag, but there are key scenes that really make you connect with his sense of betrayal. In particular, the scene where he returns home after escaping Jason’s hit to find Cookie gone is extraordinarily well done.
In all, “Streetwalkin’” is at the very least a watchable-to-fun offering. Supporting performances by Julie Newmar, Antonio "Huggy Bear" Fargas, and Khandi Alexander are entertaining. Ultimately, though, it’s incredibly derivative of other films from its respective subgenre, and the key characters that should carry the story are one dimensional and therefore seemingly absent.
Six years later, director Joan Freeman’s screenplay was reworked into another film entitled “Uncaged." It's virtually the same bullshit story, only it takes place this time in