Beyond the Valley of the Dolls
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When three female rock'n'rollers travel to Hollywood to claim an inheritance, they meet up with a kinky music promoter who turns them on to a whole new scene. At first, all seems very exciting and the naïve trio becomes submerged in his dangerous tinseltown underworld-before they discover his true motives.
One never tires of watching Russ Meyer's Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, a distant relative of Jaqueline Susann's bestselling novel, Valley of the Dolls, and its filmic counterpart, Valley of the Dolls. Kelly McNamara (Dolly Read), Casey Anderson (Cynthia Myers), and Petronella Danforth (Marcia McBroome), star as the hot female trio who clumsily navigate Hollywood during the Swingin' Sixties to promote their band, The Carrie Nations. Written by Rogert Ebert, Ebert calls the film the "first rock-horror exploitation musical," because BVD, as it's called by fans, encompasses all that was sexy, funny, hip, schlocky, stylish, and horrific about America's most interesting cultural period. BVD can be viewed as a Sixties' artifact, packed with consummate party scenes (and a cameo appearance by Strawberry Alarm Clock), as the original skin flick, as a proto-cult classic, or as a benchmark in American cinema, since it is actually well- written, artfully shot, and finely edited. This special edition re-release includes a second disc comprised of five featurettes, whose topics include Meyers' biography, the Carrie Nations music as soundtrack, Casey and Roxanne's titillating lesbian love scene, and the political climate during the Sixties. Revisiting Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, especially after Russ Meyer's recent death, reminds viewers to treasure his visionary obsession with female beauty. --Trinie Dalton
- Commentary by screenwriter and film critic Roger Ebert
- Commentary by cast members Dolly Read, Cynthia Myers, Harrison Page, John La Zar and Erica Gavin
- "Above, Beneath and Beyond the Valley: The Making of a Musical-Horror-Sex-Comedy" documentary
- "Look on up at the Bottom: The Music of Dolls" featurette
- "The Best of Beyond" featurette
- "Sex, Drugs, Music and Murder: Signs of the Times, Baby!" featurette
- "Casey and Roxanne: The Love Scene" featurette
- Actor screen tests
- 6 photo galleries
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Top customer reviews
Viewed today, it’s hard to pin a specific description on BVOD. It’s not so much a time capsule of a specific era or place—indeed, it feels outside of time and the place is strictly studio backlot—and it isn’t much of a satire, though there are some funny bits. It’s certainly NOT a sequel to Jacqueline Susann’s “Valley of the Dolls”, which had 1967 film critics scrambling for their dictionaries to locate new synonyms for “awful” (to be sure, after viewing BVOD, 1970 film critics were scrambling for superlatives that went beyond the merely awful). BVOD, really, almost defies description: it’s a goofy mishmash of parody, soap opera, horror show, cautionary lecture, rock video and enough libidinous horndogs, Playboy playmates, heaving bare bosoms and simulated sex to give the suggestion of a skinflick. And then some. It’s a hell of a ride, fast-paced, beautifully filmed and brightly colored, populated by gorgeous people spouting terrible, outrageous, often hilarious dialogue.
The tale of a small-time, all-girl rock band that comes to L.A., falls into the hands of a rock music impresario, hits the big time and ends up with “everything but the bloodhounds nipping at her rear end” (to quote Thelma Ritter in the superior “All About Eve”), BVOD is nothing if not entertaining. Far from cerebral, it’s a visual feast, (especially the Criterion Blu-Ray) and the hit-or-miss lines, especially from John LaZar’s Z-Man, are classic. Interspersing quasi-Shakespearean iambic (ish) pentameter with such howlers as “This is my happening and it freaks me out” and “ere this night does wane, you will drink the black sperm of my vengeance”, LaZar is like the Dr. Frankenfurter of BVOD, and the most interesting (and, ultimately, most frightening) character in the film. To be fair, I won’t bother criticizing the acting in the movie. It is what it is. Some performers are more competent than others but the acting is pretty much beside the point because, let’s face it, you’re not watching BVOD for the acting and it’s not “All About Eve”. The singers who make up the fictitious rock band, The Carrie Nations (what a god-awful name!) are played by Dolly Read, Cynthia Meyers and Marcia McBroom and they do exactly what they’re supposed to do: look good, take off their clothes and do an impressive job lip-synching, and fake guitar- and drum-playing a surprisingly good rock score. Credit for the vocals go to singer Lynn Carey, who has an amazing voice and really should have had a bigger career. (Sidenote: on one of the blu-ray extras, Carey recalls dating Jay Sebring and declining an invitation to accompany him to Sharon Tate’s home on the night he, Tate and three others were murdered). The rest of the cast includes Meyer’s girlfriend (later wife) Edy Williams, hamming it up as a fun-loving, sex-crazed starlet; “Vixen” star Erica Gavin, as a lesbian fashion designer in love with one of our girls; prettified muscle-boy Michael Blodgett playing a bed-hopping gigolo; with Harrison Page and David Gurion on hand to woo the band. Meyers regular (and noted character actor) Charles Napier also shows up, as does TV star, Phyllis Davis (in her pre-“Vega$” days).
The Criterion Collection Blu-Ray gives BVOD the usual, lavish update and makeover we’ve come to expect: the film looks flawless and the extras are fascinating to watch, particularly the commentary from the film’s stars, interviews with John Waters and the film’s cast and a Q&A from 1992 featuring Meyers and Ebert. There’s also a nifty booklet enclosed.
46 years after I first saw BVOD, I still like it (although the ending still grosses me out). It is one of the most WTF movies I’ve ever seen released by a major studio (20th Century Fox) and yet it is entertaining on an almost surreal level that ignores common notions of what constitutes a “good” movie
recently and am I glad I did, this movie is amazing! No kidding around!
I really wasn't sure what to expect, I'd heard a lot about Russ Meyer's movies
growing up, (I'm 50), but this movie wasn't the least bit "sexist" at all.
In fact, I honestly thought it played like "proto female empowerment".The color is
vivid, the sets are pure "1969", the clothes are beautiful, the soundtrack is terrific,
and the actors are absolutely gorgeous! This is classic late 60s, high camp, rock 'n roll
escapism at it's best.I loved it! I rank it right up there with "Riot On Sunset Strip" &
"Wild In The Streets".
So watch it on dvd or on the big screen if you can.
And of course, I highly recommend this film for anyone with a warped sense of humour and looking for something 'different'. This movie is a blast. In fact, this is my equal fave 'bad' fun movie (along with Glen or Glenda). The Sydney Film Festival recently showed it, and I can't remember the last time I heard an audience laugh so much.
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