Thursday, 25 July 2013

1,001 Films: "Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!" (1965)

Russ Meyer's Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! is one of those semi-legendary B-features that feels as though it should have been shot in cash-in 3D, even if it wasn't ultimately - such is the way in which its weird, fetishistic energies pop out of the screen at you. At its centre: a trio of mocking, cackling go-go dancers, perfectly content to spend their downtime burning off any remaining energies (and gas) in driving round and round the desert in cars with gleaming, deadly curves that seem like extensions of their own bodies. (For those unfamiliar with the Meyer oeuvre, let me phrase it euphemistically: these models come complete with their own twin airbags.) 

On one hand - and Meyer's films have perennially risked accusations of being one-handed - it's pure, possibly titillating exploitation. Yet on the other, it's a resurrection of the kind of tough broad who'd been absent from the screen during the Doris Day era: these women are placed very firmly in the driver's seat, and given the plot they eventually veer into (involving a missing girl, a reclusive, wheelchair-bound millionaire and his musclebound lunk son) is sunbleached noir, they come to resemble 40s femme fatales (kill! kill!) as pumped up for the more permissive Sixties.

The timid framing suggests that, at this stage, this director was still (understandably) terrified of asking his actresses to let it all hang out for him, and it's limited by performers who operate in one note or less - I don't think Meyer was really listening - but Faster, Pussycat! arrives at a strange vision simply by smashing together wild extremes of masculinity and femininity: there's a rare kind of artistry in the way Meyer keeps finding exactly the right camera angle to make head go-go girl Tura Satana's cleavage appear simultaneously as impressive and as insurmountable as Mount Rushmore.

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! is available on DVD through Films Sans Frontiers.

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