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Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

On a stormy night when a man wearing a red cape and tights blew into town I once again scorned the cineplex and did my best to support the endangered independent rep-theatres by attending the late show at the Bloor. [Ow! Twisted my arm with all that self-congratulatory back patting]. It's the second time I've "lost it" at the cinema, the first being almost 20 years ago when my Rocky Horror cherry was popped; tonight I gave it up to Russ Meyer.

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! flaunted everything my mother had warned me about: Fast cars, knives, violence, and a take-no-prisoners attitude displayed by women built in ways that could have sold zeppelins to Hindenburg survivors.

As the film opened I checked off the "money shots". The first jiggling, overflowing boulder holder made its on-screen appearance at just the 3 second mark. First wiggly run at 3 minutes. First wet blouse at 4 minutes. First catfight at 6 minutes. Second at 7 minutes. And so on, just as anyone who's ever even glanced at the poster of a Russ Meyer movie would expect. But there was more to appreciate than just T, A and brawling (though those subjects did seem to dominate...oh, how they dominated...)

What's significant about

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F.P!K!K! is that it's one of the first examples of "riot grrrl" power in cinema. A full two years before Faye Dunaway as Bonnie Parker machine-gunned police and 25 years before Thelma & Louise went on an unapologetic rampage Meyer conjured up three feminine powerhouses in Varla, Rosie, and Billy. These women grab what they want and roll over anything blocking their road. They're take-charge, full-throttle drivers who appear to have soft exteriors but inside are anvil tough. As proof, the trio's leader Varla (the pneumatic Tura Santana), when offered a soft drink spits, "We don't like nothin' soft! Everything we does is hard!"

That's another joy of this film. The dialogue snaps like a cat-o-nine tails and is often (intentionally) hilarious. When a cute, doe-eyed girl and her hot-rodding boyfriend encounter the titular "pussycats" a car race "to beat the clock" is suggested by the dopey boy who doesn't know that he's up against women, not girls. "I don't beat clocks!" snarls Varla, "Just people!" You can bet that within 5 minutes of such a threat that Varla is walloping the poor lad who, quite literally, doesn't know what hit him.

I could write about my newly-developed theory that Faster, Pussycat! K! K! was ripped off and remade as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (the plot similarities are astounding) but instead I'll rave about the soundtrack. The score and theme are supplied by Bert Shefter and Paul Sawtell, and the tunes are hip, groovy go-go numbers that dredge up visions of knee-high boots and hot-pants yet also meld perfectly with the dusty desert locations. It's as if "How To Stuff A Wild Bikini" married "The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly". Sawtell has an eye-popping C.V. having scored almost 550 films & TV series including (appropriately tied to my opening opening paragraph) the 1948 serial of Superman.

Having eschewed Superman's antics for those provided by these three uber-buxom leather-clad wildcats I can't help but think that Supes is lucky he only has Lex Luthor to contend with - he'd be helpless before the awesome switch-blade might of Rosie, Billy, and Varla.

If you've always been curious about what really happens in a Russ Meyer movie and are prepared to leave your brain in reality's lobby, then I highly recommend Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! It's outrageously good fun if you're up to it. Now, if you'll excuse me, I must go and petition the Bloor Cinema (506 Bloor W) programmers to screen a double feature of Vixen and Beyond The Valley of The Dolls (that's right, the one written by none other than Roger Ebert)!
pics liberated from aintitcool.com and smh.com.au


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