Posted: April 9, 2006 in 2006 NEW Reviews

rmtwo23Truly one of the greatest drive-in films ever made is now available on DVD. I’m surprised my twenty-year-old VHS has held up as long as it has. I could just watch a two-hour loop of the first five minutes.What can I say about this 1966 gem that hasn’t already been written? Actually this movie played the drive-ins here in America for about a month although it still plays in places like Germany today. Its cult status really began in the early eighties when John Waters wrote a gushing love letter to it in his autobiography SHOCK VALUE. In good timing with the then-just-blossoming home video market that was hungry for product, it also became a favorite of the second-run/ art-house circuit. Why they never show this on cable is completely beyond me. This is a better spent 83 minutes than 90 percent of what’s on cable right now, I promise. The digital transfer is sweet baby, lemme tell you, so un-like that myopic old VHS. The music on the soundtrack goes through my head while engaged in some soul-killing task at my menial day-job and helps fill a void and that is the redeeming social value of this, plain and simple. Russ Meyer made the most entertaining movies ever made.It’s easy to pick at them like a cold sore and say: “His movies are too this or too that, but they all made money with the exception of Beneath the Valley of the Dolls. When the home video market took off in the early 80’s Russ wisely chose to charge $80.00 each and cut no wholesale deals with anyone. His reason? “I worked hard on ’em, goddammit!” And he did, too as well as the cast who doubled for the crew. RM made everyone carry lights, cords, etc. as well cook their own food on shoots. Of course this alone kept him working non-union and outside the Hollywood system until his 2004 demise.My fascination with this film began about the same time the CRAMPS covered the theme song on their 1984 SMELL OF FEMALE EP As Lux Interior says to open the song: “if you like to see beautiful girls driving fast sports cars and breaking joculatory-type he-mens spines then…” From the opening frame the film delivers this and so much more. The FPKK theme song was done by an Oakland band called the Bostweeds and never released as a vinyl record so the Cramps had to make an audio tape from the movie to learn the song. THAT’S the kind of dedication you don’t see much of anymore, but FPKK had that kind of hook on people.

If you can get over drooling over the three lead actresses (or their three vintage sports-cars) the film still holds up well and like all RM films and moves with an old-school military-like precision. I can’t help but look at the unspoiled mid-sixties California and wonder what it all looks like today.

Nobody won any Oscars for this. Tura Satana has said this film “neither helped or hurt” her career. RM continued to work in his own inimitable DIY fashion until he passed on.

Despite all of this, it is the single most requested film of the entire RM catalog according to the website. Pretty good for a forty-year-old movie.


April 2006


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