Russ Meyer's Faster Pussycat Kill!..kill!
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Black & White/83 Minutes
FASTER PUSSYCAT, KILL! KILL! is the story of a new breed of SUPERWOMEN emerging out of the ruthlessness of our times. We are introduced to three BUXOM Go-Go girls: VARLA, ROSIE, and BILLIE, wildly dancing the Watusi before the leers, jeers and lecherous come-ons of their drooling all-male audience. The violence, implicit in the girls' tease, is quickly moved out of the microcosmic bar into the outside world as they literally let go of themselves, embarking on a wild, violent, deadly journey of vengeance on all men. VARLA, the outrageously abundant KARATE MASTER leader of the pack, breaks the arms and back of one man, runs her Porsche over two others, grinds a fourth, a muscleman, against a wall and, eventually, deliberately goes down the path of her own self-destruction, dragging her two BUXOTIC cohorts along with her.
About the Director
RUSS MEYER - Born on March 21, 1922, in San Leandro, California, Russ Meyer secured his place in cinema history as a pioneer of independent films. The son of a policeman and a nurse, Russ first began making films in his teens, after purchasing an 8mm Univex picture taking machine with money borrowed from his mother. At 18, while attending Junior College, Russ answered an advertisement inviting young men to train in Hollywood motion picture studios as combat photographers for the U.S. Army Signal Corps. While serving with the 166 Signal Corp., Russ distinguished himself by shooting some of the most risky and dangerous combat photography and newsreels to come out of World War II. Upon returning to Hollywood after the war, Russ Meyer functioned simultaneously as producer, scriptwriter, director, editor, and cameraman. RM's unique talents and vision, along with his success in creating low budgets for his films, caught the eye of 20th Century Fox president Richard D. Zanuck. This led to a contract for Russ to direct Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, (1970) written by Roger Ebert. The film was a box office success. Russ Meyer, a true American Auteur, passed away on September 18, 2004, at the age of 82.
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With these six words Russ Meyer's classic FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL! sets the stage for what has become a cult classic. Esteemed director John Waters even goes so far as to declare this pinnacle of campy exuberance "beyond a doubt the best movie ever made." Of course, declaring PUSSYCAT! your favorite offering from King Leer is like saying "Cherry Garcia" is your favorite Ben & Jerry ice cream flavor. Decisions, decisions...
Let's start with the glorious title. In the history of American cinema has there ever been a more improbable, enigmatic one? Methinks not. In fact, not until I ran across a CD of the CHERRY POPPIN' DADDIES have I encountered such a resplendently randy rubric. Titular issues aside (pun intended), some cineastes believe PUSSYCAT! to be nothing more than a "B-Movie." If you are thinking of brash, bizarre, brazen, bawdy, beguiling, bloody and/or buxom, then in a sense it is a B-Movie. But there's more, much more. Below the surface of seething, overheated eroticism and ultra-violence there lies a remarkably subversive, scathing social satire, unlike anything ever seen previously on the screens of rural drive-ins throughout the New World. Capitalizing on some of the most driving male adolescent fetishes: big breasts, hot babes, cheap thrills, jazzy music, ultra-violence, and the promise of sex -- especially the kind that might leave a mark or two -- one could argue that Russ Meyer, America's Number One Tit-Man, was to the silver screen what Larry Flint was to the printed page. This country's pubescent party boys are forever thankful.
The successively surprising, sordid screenplay by Jack Moran, based on an original story by Meyer, tells the tale of three sizzlingly-hot go-go dancers who leave work in their souped-up sports cars in search of sinful pleasures. They are unlike any trio of tantalyzing, tormenting temptresses to ever grace the silver screen. If you are thinking Charlie's Angels, think again. The leader of this wolf pack is Varla (Tura Satana in the role of a lifetime). Ms. Satana started her exotic dancing career at the young age of 13, and her intriguing "look," reportedly the result of her being half Japanese and half Apache, is unforgettable, as is her cleavage, the likes of which I haven't seen since standing on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Rosie, portrayed by the actress simply known as Haji, is the statuesque Italian hot-head who for reasons totally beyond me delivers her dialogue as though she were Chico Marx. Honest. The third member of this torrid trifecta is Billie (Lori Williams), the absolutely beautiful blonde babe with a conscious, although admittedly it is only about as large as the alluring navel in the center of her delectable drum-tight belly. Ms. Williams is the epitome of a wet dream and I cannot for the life of me figure out how someone with such a fine figure didn't go on to a much bigger career.
Trouble begins when Varla brutally murders a nice young man in the desert. This occurred in plain sight of the young fellow's girlfriend, Linda, played by the Playmate of the Month for December 1966, Sue Bernard. The perky Linda is sedated and forced to be a hostage. At a gas station Varla learns that a cranky old man (Stuart Lancaster) confined to a wheel chair has a fortune stashed away somewhere on his run-down ranch, and so the girls soon make it their business to do whatever is necessary to get the dough away from the codger and his two sons -- the big, burly bumpkin simply known as "The Vegetable," poignantly portrayed by Dennis Busch (no apparent relation to George W.), and the older brother, Kirk (Paul Trinka) who, among this motly family of men, is the most normal. Of course, carnage ensues, but not after some sexy seduction, seething, sleazy eroticism and snappy dialogue chock full of dime-novel double entendres from Double-D dames.
Meyer exhibits considerable restraint in keeping away from nude shots; to do so would have robbed these women of their erotic power. In fact, while PUSSYCAT! was considered scandalous when initially released in 1965, today I suspect it would receive nothing more than a PG-13 rating. How times have changed. What hasn't changed, however, is the void of female empowerment films, and that's one of the reasons PUSSYCAT! has firmly established its place in cinematic history. Meyer accomplishes this in a variety of ways. For example, most shots of our vexing vixens are from a low angel, adding to the feeling of female dominance, especially when it comes to Varla. And these girls do kick ass, male ass especially. Their celebration of all that is "right" about being "wrong" would make Mae West proud.
With a paltry $45,000 budget, the film is extremely well made. The original music, under the supervision of Paul Satell and Bert Sheffer, is wonderfully loud and packs a wallop that would put John Williams down for the count. The theme song by The Bostweeds is just about perfect, as is the fast-paced, razor-sharp editing by Meyer. And no discussion of PUSSYCAT! would be complete without mentioning the terrific composition by Director of Photography Walter Schenck which, no doubt, was heavily influenced by Meyer who was a highly respected combat photographer serving with the Army Signal Corps in World War II. (As an aside, I discovered that Meyer first visited a whorehouse while stationed in France. He was taken there by Ernest Hemingway. Now we know for whom the bell tolled.)
If you haven't seen FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL! you need to go out and find a copy. With all due respect to John Waters, this may not be the very best movie ever made, but it's one heck of a lot of fun -- especially with a scoop or two of Ben & Jerry's to keep you cool.
Reprinted from [...] -- "Movie Reviews With a Twist"
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