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Movie Reviews

Faster Pussycat Kill Kill  

Russ Meyer is one of the more unique of film directors. He cemented his reputation as the "king of the nudies", with numerous skin flicks which, beginning with The Immoral Mr. Teas in 1959, featured large-breasted women. His most prolific period was during the 1960's, when he made such films as Lorna, Faster Pussycat Kill Kill, and Vixen. Astoundingly, the success of Vixen was enough to convince 20th Century Fox to sign Meyer to a contract. At Fox, Meyer made his most infamous feature, Beyond the Valley of The Dolls (written by Roger Ebert!!!), and made one more film, The Seven Minutes, before returning to the low-budget arena for a few more years before retiring.

I was a bit apprehensive about renting a Meyer flick, not really knowing what to expect, but I can say after viewing Faster Pussycat Kill Kill I'm curious as to which films are in fact the "nudie" films. I was expecting a much softer version of a soft-core flick, yet what I got was a down and dirty B-movie, with fast cars and faster women, and a quick, lurid storyline. This is not a "sex" movie, but a B-movie knock-off of a psychological crime story. And that is not necessarily a bad thing.

The story is very simple. Three women, working as go-go dancers, take a cruise in their fast cars to the plains for a day out. The women include Varla, a nasty dame with some mean karate moves, her Spanish lover, Rosie, and Billie, the blonde who seems the more bubbly - and more heterosexual - of the trio. Some catfighting and car racing ensue, until a couple drops in, planning to run some timing tests on the boyfriend's car. Varla taunts the boyfriend by questioning his need to race against a clock (the implication being that she is taunting his masculinity as well), before daring him to race against the girls. Varla runs him off the road, before getting into a fight with him, and then killing him. The girlfriend is then kidnapped and drugged, before the girls drive off to where they hope is a safe place.

Later, the girls fill up at the gas station (funny stuff between Varla and the lecherous old station attendant), and hear of an old - and very rich - cripple who lives in the town. Of course, Varla decides to pay the old man a visit, and this is where all of the tensions come to a boil, as the three women fight amongst each other while trying to get away with their crimes, the kidnapped girl tries to find a way out, and the lecherous old coot and the two brothers come face to face with their own sexual weaknesses, in the form of all four women.

The movie is, in fact, quite serviceable as a cheap action-thriller. There is not much originality here, but Meyer is not a bad presenter of the material. Right from the start, I knew that I was dealing with a professional, even if his trademark is women with big breasts. The very first moments are brillantly constructed: we get a pompous monolouge about the violence in women, then cut to a montage at the go-go club, before we see the girls laughing while driving down the open road, as the credits appear. The tightness of this intro is such that I first thought I was watching a trailer to the film, but in this 90 second stretch of film, we get a clear impression of what kind of women they are, and what particular issues will be discussed; namely, men's weakness in the face of these type of women. As well, the sleazy lounge and jazz music is really cool, especially in a movie with crisp black and white photography.

Of course, this is not excatly a feminist movie, although some do try to say that it is a kind of female empowerment movie. I think that this movie probably wants it both ways: the three women are physically strong and clever, and Meyer glorifies this, but the women are also evil, and the first and last shots are tacked on so we can go home supposedly with these facts in mind. It takes guts to make a movie where the women can actually be strong and tough and yet not be evil as well. Girlfight is a great example of that kind of movie, and while Meyer's film is a fairly good movie, it is a shame that there wasn't some way to make these same women, tough, verbally wicked, independant, and sexy, into actual productive members of society. But that's my fantasy, not Meyer's!

But, we can also be thankful that these women are not the Charlie's Angels, the 2000 version. Drew, Cameron, and Lucy were not credible, because they acted like airheads while supposedly fighting crime, and being sexy. Varla, Billie, and Rosie are not realistic either, but they seem a bit more jaded and hard-bitten, are much more aggressive -- and take no bull from men at all, which is crucial to the storyline. The movie makes no bones about male's weaknesses; from the lecherous male to the seemingly straight-arrow male, all men make the mistake of succumbing to the sexuality of an aggressive yet seductive woman (this is a very backwards point of view, I know, but it's there in the film). And it is very signifigant, during the violent ending, who does what to whom (violence-wise, of course). Faster Pussycat Kill Kill is a very interesting movie, and I'm actually looking forward, believe it or not, to seeing a few more of Russ Meyer's works. Well, actually, I suppose it isn't all that hard to believe, especially for someone like me who, I have to say, has a weakness for beautiful and bountiful women. But, other than that, this movie is truly an interesting experience, and, as a cheap B-movie, one of the best of its kind.

David Macdonald

David Macdonald's Movie Reviews

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