Monday, November 15, 2010

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)

Solidly secured in the cinematic firmament as one of the most insane movies ever made, director Russ Meyer’s not-really-a-sequel to the sexy soap opera Valley of the Dolls (1967) is the only rock-and-roll musical ever made about corporate intrigue, homosexuality, mutilation, Nazis, rape, and homicidal transsexuals. It’s also one of the most feverishly edited films you’ll ever see, cramming a miniseries’ worth of overheated plotting into 109 mondo-bizarro minutes. The storyline concerns the travails of all-girl rock group the Carrie Nations in late-’60s L.A., their music career ascending even as their interconnected personal lives spiral into debauchery and tragedy. The narrative, however, is really just a means for Meyer and screenwriter Roger Ebert (yes, Roger Ebert!) to present scene after scene about their favorite fixation: breasts. The movie’s cast is filled with buxom young women surrounded by swarthy old men, horny young men, and predatory lesbians, all of whom are driven wild by their craving for mammaries. (Even the script’s predominant gay man worships the bulging pectoral muscles of the Adonis he desires.) The movie unspools as a manically paced phantasmagoria of screeching arguments, trippy musical numbers, lurid party scenes, and deranged violence; it’s a symphony of cinematic excess. There’s a remote possibility that Meyer and Ebert were after some sort of histrionic statement about the extremes of the psychedelic era, but the joyful hedonism of their endeavor is best expressed by the exclamation, “It’s my happening, and it freaks me out!” That line was later repurposed by Mike Myers in one of his Austin Powers joints, but even with his mojo workin’, Austin never grooved on any happenings as supremely weird as the deranged climax of BVD, which weaves together a whacked-out Third Reich refugee, a tender girl-on-girl love scene, and a gender-bending murder spree.

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls: FREAKY

1 comment:

D said...

This is an amazing movie and you've perfectly described it as "fevered". I also like Russ Meyer's other mainstream film The Seven Minutes, I'm sorry he couldn't work within the Hollywood system because his take on the world with bigger budgets would've been something to see. I wonder why Tarentino hasn't made his own"Russ Meyer" film?