Thursday, May 1, 2014

Supervixens (1975)

          Russ Meyer, the mad genius of skin flicks, was operating at the height of his singular powers when he made Supervixens, an exuberant combination of action, comedy, romance, and satire. Fast, filthy, and fun, the movie is a joyous celebration of one man’s fetishes, so even though Supervixens is heinous from the standpoint of gender politics, it’s so breezy and silly and upbeat that it’s difficult not to get a contact high. Plus, like all the best Meyer movies, it’s completely batshit insane.
          After cranking out dozens of exploitation flicks in the ’50s and ’60s, including the signature works Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965) and Vixen (1968), Meyer briefly dabbled in mainstream cinema, making the crazed Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) and the more sedate The Seven Minutes (1971) for Fox. It wasn’t until Supervixens, however, that Meyer truly returned to his comfort zone of independently produced sextravaganzas. Supervixens takes place in a violent alternate universe of Meyer’s own imagining, so every woman is a buxom, insatiable beauty with the word “Super” affixed to her first name. Yet the alternate universe is also morally just, in a twisted sort of way, since bad people pay for their villainy while true love wins in the end. More or less.
          When the story begins, studly everyman Clint Ramsey (Charles Pitts) works at a gas station run by Martin Bormann (Henry Rowland), a nice guy who may or may not be the same Martin Bormann who spent World War II working as Hitler’s secretary. Clint’s girlfriend is SuperAngel (Shari Eubank), a sex-crazed housewife who treats Clint like garbage. One day, while Clint is passed out drunk after a fight with SuperAngel, she seduces a policeman named Harry Sledge (Charles Napier). When Harry proves impotent, he becomes enraged and murders SuperAngel in an epic scene that’s simultaneously funny and grotesque. Once Clint sobers up and learns what happened, he realizes he’s the likely suspect for SuperAngel’s murder, so he hits the road and begins a series of erotic misadventures. He gets robbed by a male-female criminal duo, he finds refuge at a farm until the farmer’s mail-order bride cheerfully rapes Clint, and he falls victim to the charms of a motel proprietor’s deaf daughter. Eventually, Clint meets and falls in love with SuperVixen (also played by Eubank), who is the quasi-reincarnation of SuperAngel, but is as kind as SuperAngel was treacherous. Predictably, Mean Old Harry Sledge turns up to cause more trouble—leading to a surreal climax involving lots of dynamite.
          Also thrown into the mix are flash cuts of nude women writhing on imaginary beds, and such weird musical flourishes as the use of German marching-band music, “Dixie,” and snippets of classical compositions for punctuation during random moments. This being a Meyer movie, the most important recurring stylistic elements are enormous breasts—closeups of cleavage, long shots of women running and bouncing, claustrophobic angles of men’s faces being smothered with massive mammaries, and so on.
          Meyer, who wrote, produced, directed, shot, and edited the movie, executes all of this stuff with a cartoonish kind of high style, creating frenetic rhythms and something very closely resembling dramatic tension. The actresses in the movie are generally quite awful, though Eubank has spunk, because Meyer cast for physical attributes rather than talent. Pitts is merely okay, doing best in scenes where he communicates exasperation. Therefore the heavy lifting falls to Meyer regular Napier. He’s a stone riot in Supervixens, incarnating one of the most gleefully demented rednecks in screen history. By the time his character devolves into the live-action equivalent of a Looney Tune at the end of Supervixens, he’s personified everything from giddiness to psychosis with gusto. Plus, like Meyer, Napier seems totally hip to the self-referential joke at the heart of Supervixens.

Supervixens: FREAKY


Unknown said...

I remember wondering how many car accidents that billboard caused. (And congrats on the million views.)

AndyHunt said...

Having watched my this on VHS, as my first Meyers movie, aged 13 it left me with a horrible feeling. I was scared, frustrated and angry with it. Must have been a few years later on a second viewing I realized why. I'm an average heterosexual male. His films are full of tough guys I could never fight, and tough women I could never f...well, you get the idea.

Now I'm a good deal older and have accepted my own inadequacies.
finally I can enjoy his films.

Charles Napier! a legend. Check out his IMDB page. The guy has one hell of a resume.

Chuck Norris may well have an extra fist in his jaw, but Napier has a freakin' jack hammer in his.