Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965)


Von Tittfield: it's a minefield full of boobies in Romania.
Von Tittfield: it's a minefield full of boobies in Romania.

Genre: Sexploitation Action

Starring: Tura Satana (The Astro-Zombies), Stuart Lancaster (SupervixensGodmonster of Indian Flats)

Directed By: Russ Meyer (CherryBeyond the Valley of the Dolls)

Overview: Three go-go dancing, speed-demon strippers have an impromptu desert race with a couple they meet. When things get out of control, they kidnap the girl. They soon find out that a crippled old man in a nearby ranch might be sitting on thousands of dollars. With the girl and their greed they head out to the ranch to see if they can get the big score.

For those of you who don’t know Russ Meyer or his role in cinema’s history, let me be very… firm: his movies are Sexploitation. In fact Russ Meyer is to Sexploitation what Hitchcock is to Suspense, what Kurosawa is to Period Samurai and what David Lynch is to the surreal – he’s the first name in it. In fact his nickname was King Leer and all - every single one of his movies – prominently feature extremely well-endowed women, sometimes with and usually without clothes. Now that you have this basic education, let us begin:

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to violence, the word and the act. While violence cloaks itself in a plethora of disguises, its favorite mantle still remains... sex. Violence devours all it touches, its voracious appetite rarely fulfilled. Yet violence doesn't only destroy, it creates and molds as well. Let's examine closely then this dangerously evil creation, this new breed encased and contained within the supple skin of woman. The softness is there, the unmistakable smell of female, the surface shiny and silken, the body yielding yet wanton. But a word of caution: handle with care and don't drop your guard. This rapacious new breed prowls both alone and in packs, operating at any level, any time, anywhere, and with anybody. Who are they? One might be your secretary, your doctor's receptionist... or a dancer in a go-go club!

So promises the narrator of the awesomely-titled Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!. Then quickly we're immersed into the neer-do-well, speed-hungry lifestyle of three buxom go-go girls. There’s the blond Billie (Lori Williams), a girl who often shakes her stuff and hungers for vice, or, in her own words, “I'm of legal age for whiskey, voting and loving. Now the next election is two years away, and my love life ain't getting much better, so how about some of that one-hundred-percent!”. There’s the black-haired Italian Rosie (Haji). When she’s not cat-fighting with Billie, she tends to play it safe, and when-a she-a speaks, it’s with-a many Italianisms and hand-a gestures. These two are led by Varla (Tura Satana). Varla is one tall glass of water. Pleasantly plump in all the right places, this severely-eyebrowed Japanese-Italian wears all black. And, just as you would expect any black-hatted cowboy to be a bad guy, so is she, and is she ever. While these three women are joyriding and playing chicken with their cars out in the desert, they meet Tommy (Ray Barlow) and his main squeeze Linda (the young and petite Sue Bernard), and race against him. Varla is a pretty sore loser and when things don’t quite go her way she ends up killing Tommy in a wrasslin’ fist fight. They kidnap the girl and flee to make sure she doesn’t squeal. While on the lam out in the desert, a freaky gas station attendant tells them a story about an old man (Stuart Lancaster) that lives at a nearby ranch. The old man earned a big settlement when he was crippled by a train while trying to save a woman’s life. He doesn’t trust banks, so the money’s probably out there on his ranch. Varla naturally opts to find the geezer's bread and the women head out to the ranch and meet him and his two sons, Kirk (Paul Trinka) and the dim-witted yet large-muscled ‘The Vegetable’ (Dennis Busch). Well, for as many tricks as Varla may have up her sleeve, the old man and his kin have a couple as well.

She's got such a soft touch...
She's got such a soft touch...

The Old Man: I’m tied to this chair!
Maybe you should be nailed to it!

Above all things, if I had to describe Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! in one word, it would be ‘awkward’. I don’t mean that in an entirely bad sense, it’s a lot of fun, but there’s some real clunk when it comes to Russ Meyer’s tenth feature. The characters, especially our three anti-heroines, though rather unique, are filled out (pun intended) with so many – and I mean tons of ‘em –  one liners that it’s hard to separate them from say, any comic book superhero/supervillain ever. Too often does Varla toss her gang-leader weight around and interrupt the natural flow of conversation with her obviously fragile ego. But on the flip side, the lines are so 1965 and out-there hipster that it’s easy to just ‘have a gas’ with them. The plot is so contrived that it’s funny. It’s like Russ needed a new challenge every act and had to find it RIGHT THIS SECOND before shoot day. Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! is clearly an unpolished piece of cinema, but boy is it ever weird and fun and different. Say what you will about female characters so strong and empowered that they engage in fisticuffs with men and win, I say it’s just plain old fashioned fun.

The Old Man: Women! They let 'em vote, smoke and drive - even put 'em in pants! And what happens? A Democrat for president!

Well *I'M* scared stiff
Well *I'M* scared stiff

Performance: 6 Cinematography: 7 Script: 8 Plot: 6 Mood: 8

Overall Rating: 70% (Cuddly, But With Claws)

Having thus far seen Russ Meyer’s decent Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and impressive Supervixens - recently in theater, thanks Mayfair! – I think I’ll put Faster Pussycat! as a middle-of-the-road offering of his oeuvre. Either way, I’d like to see more of ‘King Leer’s works for sure.

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Of all the women in the film it wasn't any of the three "vixens" that I wanted to see more of; it was Sue Bernard.  She had this girl next door cuteness that I really like.  And being in a bikini for pretty much the entire movie didn't hurt.  When I looked her up on IMDB afterwards to see what else she had been in I found out two things: I had already seen her in a very forgettable cult lesbian sexploitation movie called That Tender Touch (1969), and a year or so after being in FPKK she had become a Playboy Playmate.  It's usually the other way around - model posing for Playboy to kickstart her acting career.  As you might imagine I started googling (and no, that's not a euphemism.)

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