• Beneath The Valley Of The Ultravixens (Arrow Video) DVD Review

    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: March 28th, 2005.
    Director: Russ Meyer
    Cast: Kitten Natividad, Stuart Lancaster, Uschi Digard, Russ Meyer, Sharon Hill, Ken Kerr, June Mack, Patrick M. Wright, Steve Tracey, Ann Marie
    Year: 1979
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    Beneath The Valley Of The Ultravixens – Movie Review:

    Russ Meyer’s last theatrical feature was Beneath The Valley Of The Ultravixens, written by none other than Roger Ebert.

    Narrator Stuart Lancaster begins the film by explaining to the audience that even in somewhere as chaste and pure as Smalltown USA there still exist a certain class of people just cannot get enough out of their life and who crave beyond craving more, more and more of the kind of pleasures that can only be gained through certain carnal acts.

    Husband and wife Lamar (Ken Keer) and Levonna (Kitten Natividad) seem to be doing alright with one another until it comes time to get into the bedroom where it soon becomes obvious that Lamar is for some reason incapable of loving his wife in the traditional sense and in turn craves back door action, something she’s not really down with at all. She obliges him, but all the while the gears in her head are turning and the fires in her loins remain unquenched.

    She goes out and has an affair with the manly and oh-so patriotic Mr. Peterbuilt ("I don't eat pussy, it's un-American!"), and he heads on out to continue his quest for amorous rear entry fun. When a sleazy door to door salesman shows up at Levonna’s doorstop, he too finds out just how bad she needs it, and is only too happy to oblige the buxom lass. Eventually things start to get even crazier though, and the two of them realize that maybe they should do something about their respective problems with one another and hopefully save their relationship.

    Soon Levonna dons a wig and lets loose with the Hispanic accent to becomes Lola Langusta so that she can go out and win her husband back. She slips a drug into his cocktail at the local peeler joint, and she’s off but her plan isn’t as realistic as she at first thought that it might be and it lends itself to some rather odd results. Finally, distraught as she is, Levonna turns to the good Lord above to help them out of their predicament, and the source of their salvation seems to be the local religious radio station, the ‘Rio Dio,’ run by the lovely blonde Eufaula Roop (Anne Marie).

    Everything that Meyer had been building towards with his earlier films is all laid out in plain view in this one – the exaggerated and powerful women, the mean spirited violence, the combination of slapstick humor with toilet humor and black humor and the dumb and gullible men that make up the male casts of all of his work.

    The girls in this film are completely over the top, particularly Eufaula and Laram’s boss, Junkyard Sal (a woman of truly epic proportions if ever there was one and who has her eyes on Lamar). On the other hand, the men are as dumb as posts even more so here than in his other films, especially Lamar, Peterbuilt, and Junkyard Sal’s two redneck enemies. The characters even sometimes bleed colors that represent their true personalities.

    Meyer’s camera literally leers over the femme forms in front of his camera, shooting the girls from even more bizarre angels than he normally would, catching plenty of ‘mam and thatch’ action with his lens. The editing and cutting is also completely over the top, with rarely a shot lasting more than a few seconds. Everything in this film has been kicked into overdrive – the dialogue, the narration, the sex, the entire look of the film all come blasting down on you with both barrels.

    Plot is more or less tossed to the wind and in place of a truly linear storyline we get Stuart Lancaster's fantastic narration taking us from one set piece of sex to another. While the film never hits hardcore levels, it gets about as close as it can without crossing the line. This is harder than his other movies in terms of what we see and also in how we see it.

    It almost seems like Russ set out to make a movie that would break all the cinematic taboos that it could in one swift ninety minute package. Incest, rape, homosexuality ("Get out of my closet, you bitch!"), sodomy, sex toys (look for an appearance from a double ended dildo appearing out of a violin case!), racism, blasphemy and money grubbing evangelism, faux-patriotism, inter-marital affairs, forced sex with a minor and much more are all flaunted in front of the camera with a wicked sense of humor and the knowing wink of a furrowed brow. He even goes so far as the break down the wall between the film and its viewers as towards the end when it all comes tumbling down, Meyer appears as himself, camera in hand.

    It's a shame that The Jaws Of Vixen, the film mentioned at the end of this one, never came to fruition... who knows how he would have tried to top this one.

    Beneath The Valley Of The Ultravixens – DVD Review:

    As with most of Russ Meyer’s films, Beneath The Valley Of The Ultra Vixens was shot for a fullframe presentation and the 1.33.1 framing on this DVD accommodates that quite nicely. There’s some minor print damage that appears in the form of dirt and specks here and there as well as some moderate grain in a few scenes but aside from that, the film looks nice (Just kidding! This review was written over fifteen years ago and by 2020 standards, this transfer is lousy – yet it’s still the best version out there, sadly). Colors come through quite well and there’s a reasonably high level of foreground and background detail present in the image as well. Edge enhancement isn’t a problem here though there are some mild compression artifacts noticeable in a few of the black areas on the image during the darker scenes in the film.

    There are no problems worth noting on the English language Dolby Digital Mono sound track on this DVD. Dialogue, background music and the wonky sound effects used to excellent effect throughout the film come through loud and clear without any problems in relation to clarity, hiss, or distortion. A couple of scenes sound a tad bit on the flat side but this is related to the source material and not to the DVD as the VHS release exhibited the same symptoms (and they’re very minor ones at that and only worth mentioning for the sake of being an anal retentive reviewer).

    Arrow has once again carried over the Russ Meyer commentary track originally recorded for the long out of print RM Films laserdisc release. As with all of Meyer’s tracks, this one is as informative as it is gossipy. Russ is quick to point out who was gay in the cast, who was trying to nail who both on and off camera, and how much action he got when the cameras weren’t rolling. He mentions a lot of details about shooting locations and how he lucked into a lot of the places that he ended up using without having to make many alterations to them at all, such as the junkyard. He also talks about how the advent of the multiplexes more or less killed his type of movie making as anything rated X was hard to advertise and in turn hard to get people to go see, which is why he more or less threw in the towel as far as feature filmmaking went after this film played out. There are plenty of fun anecdotes packed in here, and it adds a whole new dimension to the movie once you sit down and listen to Meyer give his take on things.

    In addition to the commentary track there’s a fifteen minute on camera interview with Ms. Kitten Natividad. She’s very candid about her life as a dancer and as an actress and she doesn’t shy away about shelling out the details on her love life with Russ Meyer himself. She left her husband for him and at the time that this movie was made, the two were quite the item. She talks about how he treated her well but was inexperienced in certain ways and offers up such sordid details about their time together as when she convinced him to give her some back door lovin’ (something which he had apparently never done with a woman before… ironic considering how often it happens in this film).

    Ultimately the two broke up but she states that she always cared for him and liked him and that even when they were on the outs she ‘never screwed’ him. Aside from personal details about her time with Russ, she also talks about dancing at a few clubs, as well as how she ended up losing her thick Mexican accent so easily. She also mentions her later problems with drugs and alcohol and how they affected her relationship with Russ, as well as a truly pornographic scene that made it into one of her scenes without anyone really knowing what was going out in the audience.

    This interview is spiced up a bit with some great promotional artwork, advertising material, and behind the scenes photos as well as photos from Kitten's younger days before she was a performer.

    Rounding out the extra features are trailers for the feature and for other films in the Arrow/Russ Meyer collection: Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, Blacksnake, Mudhoney, Vixen, Wild Gals Of The Naked West, Supervixens, Cherry Harry And Raquel, and Common Law Cabin. All in all, over twenty one minutes of Russ Meyer movie trailers to get you stoked for the rest of the films in this series.

    Beneath The Valley Of The Ultravixens – The Final Word:

    As with the other Russ Meyer Films catalogue releases from Arrow, Beneath The Valley Of The Ultra Vixens comes complete with some excellent extra features. The film itself is the very embodiment of everything Meyer’s work was building up to at this point, and it serves as a very appropriate swan song for the director. Highly recommended!