Monday, August 6, 2012

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

Auteur theory, at its most simplistic, can sometimes resemble little more than a checklist of directorial fetishes. In that regard, Russ Meyer—with his buxom uber-vixens and emasculated half-men—could easily stand as one of our greatest artistic lechers. As it is, he must settle for mucking about in the grimy back alleys behind the pantheon with his pin-up girls and beat-up cars. But give the man his due: he knew trash like no one else, and delivered it with a passion far beyond the cold cynicism of your typical exploitation movie. Indeed, a film like Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! is almost uncomfortably personal at times, to the point of turning one man’s sexual hangups into a universal law akin to gravity (or the lack thereof, in the case of certain anatomical areas).

Skipping merrily along from one feverish image to the next, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! follows the violent misadventures of three hot-rodding go-go dancers who kill and kidnap their way to a desolate ranch populated by a wealthy, woman-hating crippled pervert and his two sons. The dialogue is a kind of oversexed poetry, filled with innuendo, pseudo-Beatnik slang, and surrealist one-liners (anti-heroine Varla is memorably described as being “like a velvet glove cast in iron”). Meyer spends much of the film at the feet of his three goddesses, shooting them, Welles-style, against a blank desert sky (the combination of outsized personalities and spatial disorientation occasionally creates the impression you’re watching 50-foot-tall Amazonians stomping feeble male midgets). Yet for all the film’s fondness for these ladies, violent Varla still can’t escape retribution for her crimes, although tellingly it’s another woman that finally fells the giantess. The cause of death, by all appearances, is blunt force trauma with a sex object.

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