Three scantily clad go-go dancers go drag racing in the desert when they encounter a young couple. Varla (Tura Satana), the leader of the dancers, challengers the man (Ray Barlow) to a race and, when it appears he will win, she runs him off the road. The two start fighting, after Varla goads him into hitting her, and she soon kills him, forcing them to kidnap his bikini-clad girlfriend Linda (Susan Bernard). When the girls stop at a petrol station, they hear of an isolated house inhabited by a wheelchair-bound old man (Stuart Lancaster) and his two sons, Kirk (Paul Trinka) and his mentally handicapped but physically impressive young brother, known only as The Vegetable (Dennis Busch). Apparently somewhere in that house there is a large sum of money, which Varla will stop at nothing to acquire.
This film was nominated for me to watch by Elwood Jones of From the Depths of DVD Hell, and he and I recently discussed it on an upcoming episode of his podcast, the Mad Bad and Downright Strange Showcase. I’ll post a link to it once the show has gone live.
This is the first Russ Meyer film I’ve seen, but he has something of a reputation, so I went in with an idea of what to expect, which was something akin to an 80 minute Benny Hill sketch involving numerous buxom woman in various states of undress, flaunting their wares for all to see in increasing ludicrous situations. Whilst there were some correct elements in my presumptions – and most of those elements came in pairs, if you know what I mean – this was a far more violent and stylised film than expected, and far less coherent too.
It opens with some gloriously 1960s sexism via the narration, setting up the overall feel of the film and the ethos of its director, describing violence in general as being “Encased and contained within the supple skin of women,” before going on to explain that “One might be your secretary, or a doctor’s receptionist, or a dancer in a go-go club,” because that’s what women were useful for back then. I’m surprised they didn’t say “One might be washing the dishes, or cooking your dinner, or washing her hair.” This is a film that doesn’t shy away from exploiting the figures of its star trio. Alongside Satana’s forceful and devious Varla there’s her right-hand woman Rosie (Haji), with a thick and incredibly fake Italian accent (“I’m-a gon-a spin-a dry you!”), and Billie (Lori Williams), the naive, irresponsible sex-crazed blonde who can’t walk without sashaying, and is easily distracted by hunky men, alcohol or shiny objects.
It’s clear none of these women were hired for their acting abilities. Throughout the film there’s a large quantity of shots from ground level, with the camera positioned a few feet from the girls and angled upwards, to better highlight their chesty assets. There’s many instances that require them to remove jackets or other clothing, always shot from a seedy cleavage-highlighting angle, and there’s at least two shower scenes shot from behind, followed by conversations with women not yet fully clothed. And of course the kidnapped Linda is in a bikini for the entirety of the plot, but that’s difficult to notice any time Varla is on screen with her cleavage that can only be described as intimidating. There’s also plenty of innuendo (when offered a soft drink, the none too subtle response is “Soft drink? We don’t like nothing soft, everything we touch is hard!”). Basically, this is a film that revels in plunging necklines, bare midriffs and lots of exposed flesh. Moving on.
The plot is ludicrous. Or rather, the logistics of some scenes and their locations makes absolutely zero sense. At one point, after Linda is left alone with a drunk Billie, Linda escapes and everyone plans to track her down. The girls need her to keep her mouth shut about them murdering her boyfriend, whilst the old man has his own interests in this young, barely-clothed young woman in his midst. They all kind of arrive at the same time upon Laura, but for various reasons Varla heads back in the only working vehicle, Kirk and Linda head off in one direction on foot and the Old Man is being carried back by the Vegetable, yet the Old Man and his son arrive back at the house in pretty much the same amount of time it took for Varla to get back in a fully functioning automobile! Nonsense. The same can be said for many aspects of the climax, which gets very bloody very quickly, in an almost jarring way, and which I’d be interested to see drawn out on a map to show exactly where everything happens and how, because in my mind it just didn’t work.
Speaking of not working, the lack of any acting ability amongst the cast was highlighted when anybody spoke, because the dialogue always felt disjointed, as though pieced together from two different takes with slightly different scripts. Also, Lori Williams as Billie never faced the person she was speaking to, always looking instead in some random direction. Watch the dinner scene again to see what I mean, she’s all over the place, as though the whisky she gets drunk on was used in preparation before they even began filming the scene.
In short, this was not a film I enjoyed. It’s badly made, nonsensical and, other than one line (“Your king size brother’s been twisted like a pretzel,”) there’s no reason to watch this at all, unless you’re a fan of boobs.
Choose Life 3/10