March 25, 1985 12:00 PM

It’s easy to see why everybody’s scared. The municipality in question seems to be populated by only four kinds of people: topless dancers, gangsters, cops and psychopathic killers. Who’s going to clean the blood off the streets? Who’s going to sharpen the knives? Who’s going to make coffee? Not only that, but you’d be scared too if you had to read lines like “Let’s get out of this cesspool” and (this from a cop talking about a sleazy mob character) “What really burns me up about him is, he’s arrogant.” The only surprising thing about this inanity is that director Abel Ferrara could entice credible actors into it. Melanie (Body Double) Griffith plays one of the dancers with considerably more subtlety (and sexiness) than anyone else displays. Tom (The Big Chill) Berenger is a dancers’ agent with criminal connections; he mainly flashes back to when he was a boxer and killed someone in the ring. Billy Dee Williams, as a homicide detective, has to be hamming it up on purpose; no actor so accomplished could be this bad accidentally. Rossano Brazzi, as a mob capo, spends all his time sitting at a tiny table in an Italian café looking forlorn, as if he’s wondering which wrong turn he took on the way from South Pacific. At the end there’s a battle between Berenger and the killer, a martial-arts expert. The fight produces enough raw, mangled flesh for a dozen hamburgers. (R)

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