Thursday, February 17, 2005

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls DVD review


Beyond the Valley of The Dolls (5 stars)
Directed by Russ Meyer, 1970, 105 minutes, R

All girl band The Carrie Nations hit LA in search of fame and fortune but all they find is sex, drugs and rock 'n roll. Seduced by the salacious charms of Ronnie "Z-Man" Barzell, a record producer and raconteur, the film follows the girl's downward spiral into the cesspool of the rock industry. Relationships are destroyed as the bonds that tie them together are stretched to breaking point. Suicide, orgies, abortion, fellatio with a handgun, sexually confused superheroes, the films unpredictable denouement leaves almost the entire cast in meltdown, all in the name of rock.

Russ Meyer stunned 20th Century Fox when he handed them Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Written by film critic Roger Ebert as an unofficial sequel to The Valley of the Dolls, the studio was not expecting the sordid drug filled epic that Meyer gave them. The film was given the dreaded X rating by the censors and an incensed Fox buried the film. Quite a bizarre move as they must have known the type of films that the breast obsessed director had been making. Full of blatant nudity, shocking violence, jive talking dialogue and outrageously proportioned young ladies it shouldn't have been a surprise.

Until this point in his career Meyer had been fiercely independent. From the early days as the King of the Nudies in the Fifties with The Immoral Mr Teas through to his torrid Sixties romps like Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill! Meyers work had been groundbreaking. His résumé reads as a step-by-step history of sexploitation films; Vixen, however, was the film that made him a rich man. Hugely successful for a limited budget the studios took notice and Fox put Meyer on a contract, which lasted two just films. Beyond The Valley of the Dolls failed at the box office and The Seven Minutes faired even worse; ironically as Meyer retreated back to his own mammary filled independent world he was soon making one of his biggest ever hits Supervixens.

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, however, revels in its decadent budget. The character of Z-Man is the films decadent trump card, foppish in style with groovy banter to match; it's no wonder that Mike Myers borrowed so much from this film for his Austin Powers movies. Whole lines of dialogue are matched word for word by the International man of Mystery in Myers homage to this wonderful film, "This is my happening baby, and it freaks me out!"

The tunes, written by Lynne Carrey are funky, the girls are gorgeous and Russ Meyers ex wife Edie Williams positively ravenous as party girl Ashley St. Ives "You're a groovy boy; I'd like to strap you on sometime." Meyer's directorial flourishes are abundant; rapid fire editing, candy coloured cinematography, inexplicable Nazis and lashings of naked flesh. The film is a joy from beginning to its astounding end and a must see for any aficionado of Cult Cinema.

Review first appeared on www.cinephilia.net.au

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