Wednesday, October 10, 2007

BEEM, 3rd place: Beyond the Valley of the Dolls

[Best Editing in an Exploitation Movie Award]

"Here, have some grass, Aunt Susan won't see."
"Ooo, no thanks man, in a scene like this you get a contact high!"
"This is my happening, and it freaks me out!"
"Oh, it's a stone gas, man."
"Pray, we must make haste, my time is not my own,
Before the clock strikes twelve, I must be back at Forest Lawn!
Come I know of a cozy little dungeon where just the two of us can get off with the chains and a spider . . .
[upon discovering the bedroom in use]
. . . Delighted to see my hostages in such happy daliance;
Pray, let them joust in peace!"

Former WWII combat cameraman Russ Meyer's Vixen, 1968, a potpourri of satirical violence, taboo violation, and cheap sex, was a phenomenal success on the film circuit, playing for so long at one single-screen cinema, the owners were forced to build a second building across the street for additional movies. Meyer had produced the film himself and was enjoying a noticeable financial success with his particular brand of tittie-flick. 20th Century Fox, having failed in the latter half of the '60's to tap into the new sensibility and, consequently, suffering financially, took a risk and hired Meyer purely on the basis of his films' efficient budgets and box office success. The product of this unlikely partnership, written by Meyer and film critic Roger Ebert, was 1970's Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. The film served it's purpose, becoming a box office success with its whimsical portrayal / parody of the rock & roll scene in LA.

Stylistically, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is consistent with the rest of Meyer's oeuvre; however, Meyer was well aware that this would be his only chance to implement this style within the bounds of the studio system and its resources. Meyer makes full use of the advantages offered by a large crew and (comparatively) large budget. The result is the most lush and polished of all Meyer's works.

the original trailer for Beyond the Valley of the Dolls:

memorable editing moment: Beyond the Valley of the Dolls exemplifies Meyer's idiosyncratic editing style. Two distinctive Meyeresque techniques: i) close-ups are cut before the subject blinks (leaving the women with an absurdly wide-eyed appearance); ii) Meyer's patented up-through-the-bed shot, where the camera looks up through the mattress springs at fornicating lovers. Additionally, several instances of Meyer's exceptional use of the montage sequence can be found. In this clip, we can see the montage which Meyer uses to illustrate the conversation between the lead singer of a female rock band and her lover (the manager) about going to LA. The interaction between the words and images is nothing less than brilliant. There are at least three types of image: i) shots from later in the film, ii) footage of characters from the film in surreal situations which never occur later, and iii) stock footage of objects / events. Correspondingly, there are at least three distinct ways the images illustrate the words: i) literally (showing smog with the word "smog"), ii) as a pun on the literal meaning (showing a head of beer with the words "cool head"), and iii) as a commentary on the words (juxtaposing both a rich urban environment and a shack on the hill with the word "LA").

[Note: the above description refers to the first minute of this video; starting at 1:26 are a sequence of randomly arranged clips.]


DLoyd76 said...

Beyond... was always a favorite, though I have personal reasons for loving Faster Pussycat.

But the best Meyer film, IMHO, truly because it makes no sense and if you let it, will take you down a rabbit hole of such crazy non-equilibrium was "Beyond the Valley of the Super-Vixens". No idea what the point was, but I loved every moment of it.

Semper Fi!

horus kemwer said...

You mean Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens, 1979, which was basically Meyer's commentary on the surging wave of interest in anal sex (plus, of course, women with enormous breasts).