Favourite Five Series: RUSS MEYER
The name Russ Meyer has become synonymous with sexploitation. Seriously, is there a better known director of sexploitation than Russ Meyer? Meyer proudly wore the moniker “King of The Nudies” and even had it carved on his tombstone. The photography and moving picture bug bit Mr. Meyer early. His mother pawned her wedding ring to buy him his first 8mm camera when he was a teenager. Before directing his first film Meyer shot footage during World War II (apparently you can view some of his photography in Franklin J. Schaffner’s 1970 film Patton). Meyer also took glamour shots for magazines like Playboy; including pictures of his wives Eve Meyer and Edy Williams. Meyer made his first feature film in 1959; The Immoral Mr. Teas. He was able to finance his next film with the proceeds. Meyer continued to make successful features with the proceeds of previous films working on a tight budget and doing most of his own writing, directing, editing and distributing. The exception being the 1970 film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and 1971’s The Seven Minutes which were financed by 20th Century Fox. Sexploitation flicks come in many shapes and sizes and no one did them quite like Meyer. His large breasted beauties were smart, dangerous, free-spirited, conniving, spoiled, charming, clever, eccentric and always sexy. His female characters are not just victims they are antagonists and heroines. Energetic, violent, sexy and funny; it is always a good time when I sit down to watch a Meyer flick. Part of the fun of watching a Meyer flick is his lovely leading ladies and their Wholly enthusiastic performances; Kitten Natividad, Uschi Digard, Haji, Alaina Capri and Lorna Maitland to name a few. However, if it wasn’t for Faster Pussycat!… Kill! Kill! and Tura Satana’s bad-ass performance as Varla I may not have even discovered any of Russ Meyer’s other naughty nuggets. Faster Pussycat!… Kill! Kill! opened the flood gates. Meyer has twenty-nine director credits listed on IMDB (five of these are shorts). I have seen eighteen of Meyer’s twenty-four full-length features and they are all pretty damn fun. I have never seen a Russ Meyer film I did not enjoy.
What I’ve Seen: Pandora Peaks (2001), Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens (1979), Up! (1976), Supervixens (1975), Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970), Cherry, Harry & Raquel! (1970), Vixen! (1968), Finders Keepers, Lovers Weepers! (1968), Good Morning and Goodbye (1967), How Much Loving Does a Normal Couple Need? (1967), Mondo Topless (1966), Motorpsycho! (1965), Faster Pussycat… Kill! Kill! (1965), Mudhoney (1965), Lorna (1964), Wild Gals of the Naked West (1962), Eve and the Handyman (1961), The Immoral Mr. Teas (1959)
BENEATH THE VALLEY OF THE ULTRA-VIXENS (1979)
Cast: Kitten Natividad, Ann Marie, Ken Kerr, June Mack, Patrick Wright, Henry Rowland, Robert E. Pearson, Michael Finn, Sharon Ceccatti, Don Scarborough, Aram Katcher, DeForest Covan, Steve Tracy, Uschi Digard, Stuart Lancaster, Candy Samples
Lamar’s propensity for putting his penis in his wife Lavonia’s butt is threatening to ruin their marriage. Lavonia loves Lamar but is sexually unsatisfied and is getting nookie elsewhere. Meanwhile, Lamar’s boss Junkyard Sal is looking for Lamar to do some overtime in her bed. Lamar and Lavonia eventually visit their local dentist for marriage counselling to no avail. Finally Lamar finds faith through Eufaula Roop, the local evangelical radio preacher. Meyer’s output definitely got saltier as the years went by. At this point in his filmmaking career there was full frontal nudity, softcore sex and graphic violence. Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens is definitely a whole lotta naughty but in the most hysterically funny and outrageous way possible. I laughed often from beginning to end and Kitten Natividad is especially charming and convivial.
Cast: Haji, Alex Rocco, Steve Oliver, Holle K. Winters, Timothy Scott, Coleman Francis, Sharon Lee, Steve Masters, Arshalouis Aivazian, Russ Meyer, George Costello, Fred Owens, Richard S. Brummer
Motorpyscho! follows the violent adventures of a bike gang led by a Vietnam vet. The gang makes an enemy of a veterinarian after they rape his wife. The veterinarian teams up with a woman whose husband was killed by the same gang and together they plan to exact their revenge. A more serious affair then the other films on this list and apparently one of the first portrayals of a disturbed Vietnam veteran. Motorpsycho! is one of the few films in Meyer’s library where the action focuses on a male character. There is of course an array of lovely ladies but with the exception of Haji they are more minor characters. Speaking of which, Haji is fabulous here! There is definitely signs of Meyer’s style but for the most part this is a straight up biker flick and one of my favourites in the sub-genre. Violence, betrayal, murder and rape; all the things that make for a solid biker outing. Sadly the DVD quality was the pits but it is well worth seeking out nonetheless. I sincerely hope a better copy of this film exists out there. I was not happy with any of the pictures I saved so I sourced these from wrongsideoftheart …
Cast: Edward Schaaf, Robert McLane, Elaine Collins, Candy Samples, Su Ling, Janet Wood, Linda Sue Ragsdale, Harry, Raven De La Croix, Monty Bane, Marianne Marks, Larry Dean, Bob Schott, Foxy Lae, Ray Reinhardt, Kitten Natividad
Up! follows the exploits of a group of small town folks after the murder of nazi Adolf Schartz. A whodunnit narrated by Kitten Natividad sans clothing. We meet restaurant owners Paul and Alice, new comer Margo Winchester, the local law Homer Johnson, Gwendolyn, Limehouse, The Ethiopian Chef and a host of others as they fornicate their way to the final reveal. A cat-shit crazy, action-packed murder mystery with tons of laughs, sex and nudity. A huge castle in a small American town owned by a nazi wouldn’t be complete without a sex dungeon. Everyone is having sex with everyone in UP! in many places and in many different positions! The film has an almost whimsical feel about it bordering on surreal. Up! really is a riot and a must-see if you are a fan of Meyer’s work.
Cast: Charles Pitts, Shari Eubank, Charles Napier, Charles Pitts, Henry Rowland, Christy Hartburg, Colleen Brennan, John Lazar, Stuart Lancaster, Deborah McGuire, Glenn Dixon, Haji, ‘Big Jack’ Provan
Clint Ramsey is an attendant at a local gas station somewhere in the desert. His crazy jealous girlfriend SuperAngel is constantly calling him at work to check up on him. On this day SuperAngel insists Clint come home to “service” her. The two have a loud violent argument and the police are called in. Clint takes off to the bar while SuperAngel seduces the cop, Harry Sledge. When Harry can’t get it up SuperAngel’s insults and taunts lead to her demise. Harry intends to pin the murder on Clint who is forced to flee. Clint meets a series of beautiful women along the way as well as their angry boyfriend, father and husband. Clint eventually meets SuperAngel’s doppleganger SuperVixen and the two fall in love; but will Harry Sledge threaten to spoil everything? Supervixens was my follow-up to Faster Pussycat and it was the perfect choice. Crazy, violent, sexually-charged shenanigans of the first order. Despite SuperAngel being a SuperPsycho, to this day, I still find her death particularly brutal. Supervixens is the perfect introduction to Meyer’s sexier 70s output. Shari Eubank is a real highlight and does a fantastic job playing both SuperAngel and SuperVixen!
FASTER PUSSYCAT… KILL! KILL! (1965)
Cast: Tura Satana, Haji, Lori Williams, Ray Barlow, Sue Bernard, Michael Finn, Dennis Busch, Stuart Lancaster, Paul Trinka
Yep. Still the mother of them all. Faster Pussycat!… Kill! Kill! has aged like fine wine. It is no wonder at all that Faster Pussycat!… Kill! Kill! has become a cult classic. A trio of sybaritic dames challenge a young couple to drag race which ends with the death of the boyfriend and the kidnapping of the girl. A chatty gas attendant tells the trio about a treasure hidden on a rundown remote piece of land owned by a crotchety old man living with his two sons. The trio’s leader Varla hatches a plan to make off with the old man’s loot but karma eventually catches up with the ladies. These women don’t mess around; fist fighting, car racing, knife throwing, kicking, go-go dancing, kidnapping, murdering divas! Man-crazy Billie, Faithful Rosie and tough as nails Varla; three very different personalities that seemed destined to clash. Lori Williams (Billie), Haji (Rosie) and Tura Satana (Varla) are picture perfect in their roles and all are believable bad-asses living on the fringe. Faster Pussycat!…Kill! Kill! is really Tura Satana’s trip. Her tongue stings like a whip and her angry fists leave a mark that stays with you long after the pussycats have left the screen. Faster Pussycat!…Kill! Kill! is one of the all time great exploitation films!
Also up for consideration: Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970), Cherry, Harry & Raquel! (1970), Good Morning and Goodbye (1967), Common Law Cabin (1967)
Alaina Capri in COMMON LAW CABIN (1967) directed by Russ Meyer