Monday, November 18, 2013

The Killing Cleavage

I couldn't put it better than Roger Ebert, who described the distinctive imagery of Russ Meyer's 1965 film Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! like so:

Take away all the jokes, the elaborate camera angles, the violence, the action and the sex, and what remains is the quintessential Russ Meyer image: a towering woman with enormous breasts, who dominates all the men around her, demands sexual satisfaction and casts off men in the same way that, in mainstream sexual fantasies, men cast aside women.

Of course the camera angles are part of what makes these already hugely endowed women so much larger than life. The violent gang of three go-go dancers in this film are typically shot from low angles or shown in other ways to impose themselves physically on others.

Really, though, I doubt there's much about this movie I can say that hasn't been said. Tura Satana, a Japanese and Filipino actress who once posed for nude photos for silent film star Harold Lloyd, plays Varla, who wields her body and suped up sportscar as part of a single, big psychic wrecking ball. She kills to sate immediate appetites and she also kills premeditatively for long term ends.

The film's boring male hero, who thankfully gets little screentime, dismisses her as an "animal" and "nothing" but Varla is quick to point out he'd been happy to try and fuck her less than half an hour earlier.

After killing an innocent young girl's boyfriend with her bare hands, Varla kidnaps her and drugs her. Still, Varla sees no conflict of interest in saving the girl from a potential rape--Varla's not running on anarchy, she has a moral code. She's simply declared war on men and given the ruthless old bastard shown in the film, it's hard to blame her.

One might say this is all old hat by now, but when was the last time you saw a female heroine or villain who's allowed to dominate men like that? Yeah, obviously Kill la Kill, but it's pretty rare even now. Even if it wasn't, the exuberance with which Meyer and his crew tell this story, and the excitement surrounding the breach of taboo, is rather delightful.

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