Monday, May 4, 2015

Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens (1979)

          The last proper movie directed by skin-flick legend Russ Meyer, Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens is a tacky and tedious story about a voluptuous woman trying to cure her boyfriend of a predilection for anal sex. In Meyer’s simultaneously moralistic and perverse cinematic realm, there’s nothing worse than a stud who can’t “look a good fuck in the eye.” Were Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens not so sleazy, the theme of a lover craving intimacy would almost seem sweet. Cowritten by Meyer and frequent collaborator Roger Ebert, Beyond the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens is about as close to full-on pornography as Meyer ever got, thanks so lingering close-ups of erect phalli, peekaboo shots that almost-kinda-sorta depict genital penetration, and endless scenes of couples grinding against each other. The movie features many tropes that fans of Meyer’s movies enjoy—including frenzied editing, satirical characterizations, and whimsical narration. It also has a few decent jokes. On the whole, however, Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Fixens seems like the work of a filmmaker at a professional crossroads. Presumably, Meyer realized that the days in which his strange brand of comical softcore commanded a specific market niche were rapidly passing.
          After a weird opening scene that mashes together allusions to Nazism and necrophilia with gospel music and videogames—to say nothing of energetic sex—the movie introduces “The Man from Small Town U.S.A.” (Stuart Lancaster), a plain-talkin’ fella who speaks to the camera and then narrates the story, providing judgmental color commentary. He introduces viewers to troubled couple Lamar (Ken Kerr) and Lavonia (Kitten Navidad). She’s a horny housewife, but she hates Lamar’s preferred position. Both embark on trysts with others, and Lavonia assumes the second identity of Lola Langusta (“hotter than a Mexican’s lunch,” according to the narrator), in order to make Lamar jealous enough to change his ways. When that doesn't work, Lamar seeks the ministrations of voluptuous radio hostess Sister Eufaula Roop (Ann Marie), who delivers gospel-style broadcasts about sexual satisfaction.
          Once in a while, Meyer lands an ingenious verbal or visual joke, as when “The Man from Small Town U.S.A.” drills a hole through a wall so he can watch the action upon which he’s commenting—very meta. Yet Ebert also suffocates the film with wall-to-wall word soup. Consider this oppressive chunk of narration: “Then there is Beau Badger and his faithful sidekick, Tyrone. Beau is a redneck, lean and mean. Tyrone is a racist—crude, rude, and tattooed. Dropouts from the rat race of life. Human flotsam. Useless roadblocks in the avenue of progress. Bitterly envious of the lower classes. Rejected by the volunteer Army. Their choice in life is simple: the drunk tank or the scrap heap.” Like the dialogue, the sex in the movie is undercut by overkill. And when the “good parts” of a sexploitation romp aren’t that good, what’s the point?

Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vizens: FUNKY

1 comment:

Bob Johns said...

You have to love that cover art!