Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

Dir: Russ Meyer, 1965. Starring: Tura Satana, Haji, Lori Williams, Stuart Lancaster. Cult.
Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
Russ Meyer has brought a plethora of tales that feature femme fatales, vixens, and unapologetic ladies, but none are as flawless as Faster, Pussycat! Aside from being ahead of its time by approaching women as forces to be reckoned with—not trampled on—Meyer employed various techniques that were rarely used in low budget film. The frame composition in the action sequences and the superb editing, aided by the use of multiple cameras during a shot, are things that you'd expect to see in a feature with a large budget. This, paired with excellent black & white photography and a thrilling plot, has turned the movie into a classic instead of a cult fad.

The opening sequence pretty much forces you, in a somewhat silly way, to go into the movie expecting to see women who aren't of the norm. A narrator informs the audience that there is a new breed of woman—vicious, unrelenting beasts; animals in a shell of soft skin. The voice-over states that in these “new times,” one can never know what to expect of a woman, and that those who you need to watch out for could be anyone: secretaries, nurses, or even go-go dancers.

From here we are introduced to three dancers in a nightclub. During the day, these girls belong to a sort of hot rod gang. Their greatest pleasure comes in the moment of defeat so they race each other in their sports cars, drifting through desert terrain as if their lives depended on winning. The ringleader in the pack is Varla, played by the marvelous Tura Satana. She keeps her status as the alpha simply by being the most fearless among the group and the person with no sentimental attachments to anything except her wheels. Second in command is Rosie (Haji), an Italian spitfire looking to grow into a stronger person, and is suggested to be in love with Varla. Then there's the weakest link, Billy (Lori Williams), a busty blonde who spends most her time flirting, which in turn squanders the girls' efforts to appear cold and hostile.

A young couple stumbles upon their desert racing grounds and wants to be cordial. The young man and his girlfriend want to test his speed, and before long, he's sucked into a race with the three women. As tensions rise during the race, he realizes that the girls aren't into any kind of sportsmanship. A fight breaks out between him and Varla and she kills him, taking the girlfriend hostage until they figure out a plan.

As luck would have it, they hear a rumor at the local gas station that a crazy old man (Stuart Lancaster) lives just outside of town and has a large stash of settlement money after being paralyzed in a train accident. The story also goes that he has a problem with women because he was trying to save an ungrateful girl when he was paralyzed. The girls drive there and scope the place out, planning to ditch the girl with the old man and let him decide her fate. The old man lives with his two sons, one a handsome, but retarded bodybuilder that he refers to as The Vegetable, and the other, Kirk, a charming man of middle age. Just when they think they'll strike it rich by manipulating their hosts, they discover that the old man is bloodthirsty for revenge and plans to take his wrath out on all of them. On top of their troubles with the man and his sons, they also have to keep a close watch on the girl they have hostage. So, a battle of sex, wit, and violence unfolds, sending members of both parties to their graves.

I've praised the structure of the film, but I must also mention its wonderful dialogue. Every word that is uttered by either the girls or their male hosts has a bite to it. Topics range from the obvious, such as sex and metaphors with racing, to the new rights that women had recently obtained in the '60s. The story is bizarre when you think about it, but no more outlandish than the film Detour, or Noirs that play on chance. Underneath it all is a message to the public about greed, revenge, and the battle of the sexes. Faster, Pussycat! is a Sexual Revolution-Exploitation film of sorts, but tasteful and very well made. I recommend it to both cult fans and those looking for excellent black & white films. And since Satana passed away earlier this year, why not keep her memory alive by watching or re-watching the movie that put her on the mark! Highly recommended.

Posted by:
Edythe Smith
Sep 26, 2011 11:21pm
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