Panic in Needle Park – Rediscovering ‘Hanna D. – La Ragazza del Vondel Park’ (France/Italy 1984 – 83 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - February 02, 2016
Panic in Needle Park – Rediscovering ‘Hanna D. – La Ragazza del Vondel Park’  (France/Italy 1984 – 83 mins)

Though not as stylish or well made as the earlier German feature ‘Christiane F’ (’81), the low-budget and provocative ‘Hanna D: The Girl from Vondel Park’ took that film’s grim premise to an even darker place, leaving it a memorable piece of sexploitation with a few good intentions here and there.

Innocent 16 year old Hanna (Ann-Gisel Glass) is supporting both her and her boozy mother (Karin Schubert) by selling her body in and around Amsterdam’s vast Vondel Park. Scared away by the local prostitutes, Hanna is picked up by a local man (Fausto Lombardi) who talks her into being her pimp, while at the same time introducing Hanna to heroin. After spiralling downhill into drugs and abusive encounters with sleazy clients, she eventually meets Alex (Sebastiano Somma) a good guy who wants to protect her. But is it all too late for the physically and emotionally damaged teenager?

Although ‘Hanna D’ is little more than a succession of soft-core encounters and drug-related squalor, for the right viewer it’s also an entertaining piece of Euro-sleaze. Looking much younger than her 20 years, French newcomer Ann-Gisel Glass looked ideal as the abused 16 year old, while former German starlet Karin Schubert played Hanna’s alcoholic mother, a year before venturing into adult movies. Clichéd support came from Fausto Lombardi as the villainous pimp, and Sebastiano Somma as Hanna’s knight in shining armour.

No stranger to tawdry productions, Italian writer/director Rino Di Silvestro had earlier made the controversial nazi-sploitation pic ‘Deported Women of the SS Special Section’, and the sleazy slasher ‘Werewolf Woman’ (both ’76). Some of the English dubbing is unintentionally funny (though not too distracting overall), but Silvestro does make good use of the Amsterdam locations, especially Vodenlpark itself.

One strictly for the grindhouse crowd, ‘Hanna D’ is not a movie I would easily recommend, but for fans of sleazy exploitation, then you can’t go wrong here. For all that’s gone on before it, this cautionary tale does at least have a happy ending of sorts for our troubled ‘heroine’, while Ann-Gisel Glass keeps your attention throughout.

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