Enter Tank Girl, Future Cult Queen

By Jeff Gordinier
Updated September 09, 1994 at 04:00 AM EDT
  • Movie

It’s 108 degrees in the molten heart of Arizona, and director Rachel Talalay is shooting a scene from Tank Girl — destined to be next spring’s candidate for collegiate cult status — at the Scottsdale Galleria.

A mall? Has Hollywood once again gone searching for the elusive essence of Generation X in the barren land of Foot Locker and Haagen-Dazs?

Well, not exactly. ”We’ve turned a closed-down mall into an upscale whorehouse,” the director deadpans. ”Tank Girl comes to rescue her friend, and it turns into this outrageous Busby Berkeley dance number-set to Cole Porter’s ‘Let’s Do It.’ It’s a great scene.”

Bizarre, too. Which is why Talalay — who produced John Waters’ Hairspray and , Cry-Baby and a couple of Nightmare on Elm Streets — predicts that the musical- action-comedy hybrid of Tank Girl will draw the lucrative young audience that has so far baffled Hollywood marketeers. Other movies may spoon-feed the viewer reality bites of jobless angst and woe, but Tank Girl dishes up gamier fare: brassy sexuality. Road Warrior-style revenge fantasies. And sheer weirdness.

Translated from the Dark Horse comic-book series (see box) to celluloid, Tank Girl takes place in post-apocalyptic 2033, after a wayward comet has sucker punched the earth and depleted its water supply. Lori Petty (A League of Their Own) plays the title character, a free-lovin’ bastion of empowerment who leads a revolt against Malcolm McDowell’s seedy Department of Water and Power. Along the way Tank Girl encounters a parade of wacko cameos, from punker Iggy Pop as a scaly brothel patron to rapper Ice-T as a mutant kangaroo.

Despite her world-saving mission, Tank Girl is no Van Damme on estrogen. (Her tank is festooned with harmless squirt guns, slingshots, and a barbecue pit.) ”It’s about brains and daring,” says Talalay. ”It’s not about the size of guns or the size of muscles.” And when she’s not out rescuing pals from the Scottsdale Galleria’s sinister clutches, Tank Girl shares at least one philosophical notion with the college crowd. As Petty puts it, ”Party is her middle name.”

Tank Girl

  • Movie
  • R
  • 104 minutes
  • Rachel Talalay