I used to live down the street from a video rental store that carried all the films the other rental shops didn’t. There was nothing “too obscure” for them, and they could usually point out what you were looking for in under a minute, even if you didn’t know the title and could only (at best) give them a vague and entirely travestied description. I remember overhearing these conversations and many similar ones while pacing the aisles:
Customer: “Hey. Do you guys have the movie, I saw it a long time ago, where this family, like, they go all caveman kinda thing?”
Clerk, pointing: “Spider Baby. Over there on the second shelf from the top.”
Customer: “Hi there, I’m trying to remember the name of this one movie. A guy has a pet worm or something, but it eats brains I think?”
Clerk: “Brain Damage. It’s out, but it’ll be back next week.”
Anyway, this place was incredible. It’s closed now, another victim of the Internet, but going there used to be the highlight of my week. The point of this story is that this fine establishment had an entire section devoted to the one and only Russ Meyer, and it was there that I first noticed, picked up and promptly fell in love with Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to violence!” The film’s introduction is a radio warning style spoken word, the voice explaining the dangers of women: “One might be your secretary, your doctor’s receptionist… or a dancer in a go-go club!” It’s so deliciously pulpy it hurts, and as the music kicks in and our three go-go girl heroines/villains appear, it gets even better. The opening credits roll as the music continues to kick complete ass, and our girls hit the road, driving like maniacs and looking gorgeous as they do. It’s a killer intro, totally setting the sexy, reckless tone for the rest of the movie.
Varla (Tura Satana), Rosie (Haji) and Billie (Lori Williams) are looking for trouble and they find it in the desert. They encounter a young couple, and after Varla kills the boyfriend Tommy (Ray Barlow), our trio kidnaps the girlfriend Linda (Susan Bernard). At a gas station, they learn of an old man who is supposedly hiding a tidy sum of cash at his ranch where he lives with his two sons. Varla’s greed easily gets the better of her, and the girls (their hostage in tow) head out to the ranch to track down the alleged fortune. The crippled old man turns out less harmless than anticipated, and getting their hands on his cash will be tougher and more dangerous than they expected. But, naturally, these ladies aren’t going down without one hell of a good fight.
Even if you aren’t overly familiar with Russ Meyer’s work, by the name alone you’d likely bet the rest of the film is loaded with gratuitous violence and cleavage galore, and that’s a bet you’d win. Faster, Pussycat! has Meyer all over it, and it’s my personal favourite of his impressive filmography of over 20 features, all of which I’ve seen. It’s sexy, campy, pulpy fun… unless you have a severe aversion to (very large) breasts.
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