• Faster Pussycat... Kill! Kill! (Arrow Video) DVD Review

    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: March 28th, 2005.
    Director: Russ Meyer
    Cast: Tura Satana, Haji, Sue Bernard, Lori Williams, Stuart Lancaster, Paul Trinka, Ray Barlow, Dennis Busch, Paul Trinka
    Year: 1965
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    Faster Pussycat... Kill! Kill! – Movie Review:

    Let the record stand that I wrestled more than a man should have to wrestle with himself in regards to buying this disc, let alone reviewing it – but here at R!S!P!... sometimes we need to provide a public service, and this is one of those times.

    The people at RM Films seem determined to squeeze every last dime out of the late, great Russ Meyer’s estate with no regard as to preserving the man’s legacy or doing right by his fans (I got to experience this first hand back in the AV Maniacs days when they threatened me with legal action over a thread on that messageboard discussing their tactics). As such, it’s tough to want to cover one of their releases, let alone promote it. But here we are, so let’s talk about Russ’ classic 1965 ode to violence in women, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (the only film in his catalogue outside of the Fox titles to make it to Blu-ray – but we’re here to look at the old Arrow DVD).

    For those who haven’t seen it? From the opening voice over to the first scene of three curvaceous go-go dancers shakin' it fast and furious like, you know what you're getting into with this rough and tumble low budget classic. It’s a picture that proves once and for all that the cutest kittens have the sharpest claws. Meyers’ black and white shocker starts off with the three tough chicks - Varla (Tura Satana of The Astro Zombies), Rosi (Haji of Supervixens and Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls), and Billie (Lori Williams) - splitting from their gig at the go-go club. with their shifts finished, this trios heads on out into the outside world where they plan to kill some time racing their roadsters in the desert.

    When two squares come along, a Frankie and Annette like couple named Linda (Sue Bernard of The Witchmaker) and Tommy (Ray Barlow), who are running some time trials things heat up. Why? Because Varla, never one to back away from a challenge, gets into it with Tommy. It starts off as not so friendly competition but before you know it, she’s killed him in cold blood.

    From there, our three oh-so-buxom but oh-so-evil peelers take poor Linda hostage and soon the four of them come across a creepy old man (Stuart Lancaster) living out in the middle of the desert with his two sons. They figure he's gotta have quite the stash o' cash hidden somewhere in his compound or he wouldn't be such a reclusive old weirdo. And Varla? Well, she the gals set about trying to scheme the three guys out of that dough. This won’t end nicely for anybody.


    Things, of course, get more complicated from there and the cast of characters starts turning on one another towards the end of the film, but we’re not going to ruin the ending in case you haven't seen the film (and if you haven’t, well, get hip). Really though, to be blunt Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill! is classic trash filmmaking personified. Meyers’ camera looms over every curve on these girls' bodies and while this film lacks all the gratuitous nudity of many of his other more explicit films, it doesn't leave a whole lot to your imagination either. The attire is, shall we say, form-fitting and these girls have got all the right curves in all the right places to tighten as many pants as eyes they shall blacken!

    This movie is trashy, violent, and all set to a killer soundtrack with an instantly recognizable opening theme song performed by The Bostweeds (and later covered damn near perfectly by The Cramps), everyone interested in exploitation films should not only see this film, but commit it to memory. The tough talking dialogue comes at you a mile a minute from the get go to the get gone and there are so many quotable lines in the film it's no wonder it was sampled by the likes of Rob Zombie (blah!) and others in their music. It really doesn't matter a whole lot that there are multiple continuity goofs (pay attention to the license plate on Varla's Porsche roadster or watch Billie's hair when she goes swimming in the lake to see examples of that) or that there's a camera man visible in one or two spots. It doesn't matter that the film was made fast and cheap for under fifty-grand way back in 1965. Russ Meyer infuses the film with such mean spirited passion that it doesn't take long for the three lovely lead ladies to cast you under their spell. And once they have? Forget about it, you’re done.

    Tura Satana steals the show as the tough talking 'take no shit' Varla but you've got to love Haji and Lori Williams in their roles too. Tura gets the best lines in the movie but both of them are equally sexy and just as dangerous as her character, just maybe a little more subtle about it all. Sue Bernard is about as cute as a girl can get as the innocent and naive little Linda, and when the four girls make their way to the secluded desert ranch and the dirty old man makes his moves on her? You really do want him to get what he deserves. Lancaster, as that dirty old man, is just rock solid in his part and it’s no wonder that Meyer would use him over and over again in film’s like Mudhoney, Good Morning… And Goodbye!, The Seven Minutes, Supervixens and, of course, Beneath the Valley Of The Ultra-Vixens. He’s got the right sort of feel for a Meyer movie, and Russ takes advantage of everything he can bring to the table.

    In the end, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! delivers exactly what you expect it to. Is it a profound exercise in examining male and female relationships from an atypical point of view? No. Is it somehow some sort of transgressive feminist statement? Maybe, maybe not, even if it has been adapted as such by some (and hey, why not, these chicks are obviously way tougher, smarter and powerful than any of the men in the film). At its core this is a movie about hot chicks in fast cars who beat people up and fight with each other in tight fitting outfits that emphasize their giant breasts. Read more into it than that if you want, but for some of us, that’s enough. Russ Meyer himself would tell you that there's nothing wrong with that, and it would be hard to disagree with the man.

    Faster Pussycat... Kill! Kill! – DVD Review:

    Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33.1, Arrow's transfer is an improvement over the earlier French DVD release. While that presentation was perfectly watchable, this new DVD has a cleaner image with less noticeable edge enhancement and less noticeable print damage. Grain is there, but it's kept well in check and the movie looks like it should - it's gritty and unclean looking. That being said, it should be gritty and unclean looking. The black and white cinematography is handled nicely on this disc as the contrast levels are nice and accurate looking with supple hints of gray shading the curves of the many female forms on display in the film. The only problem worth noting is that there is some very slight blurring noticeable in a few of the faster paced action scenes. You can pick up on it if you're looking for it during the final showdown and when Varla attacks Tommy out in the desert. But other than that, there's really not a whole lot to complain about. (Editor’s note – time has not been kind to this transfer and while it might have looked okay by 2005 standards, it looks pretty rough in 2020).

    The Dolby Digital Mono English language track is fine. You're likely to pick up on a little bit of hiss here and there but it's very slight, there's nothing too serious that will take away from the film. The soundtrack comes through nice and clear and the dialogue is never once difficult to understand. There are no alternate language dubs or subtitle options available on the DVD.

    This is where Arrow's disc really, really excels - the extra features on this disc are exceptional and Russ Meyer fans can finally plunk down their hard earned cash on something other than a barebones DVD release of the master's films!

    First up is a brand new commentary track featuring Tura Satan, Lori Williams, and Haji. The three ladies are never at a loss for words as they give the play by play account of how their experiences went on set during the production. They talk about how things were working with Russ Meyer on the movie as well as some of the strange conditions under which this movie got made. They're not afraid to mix words and give their honest opinions on some of the people that they worked alongside both in front of and behind the camera and this commentary track makes for a fun and genuinely interesting look at the film.

    Arrow has also ported over the old Russ Meyer commentary that was previously available only on the long out of print laserdisc that was put out by Russ Meyer films a few years back (which, up until this release, tended to be a very expensive collector's item on eBay!). Meyer's got some interesting opinions on his film and, like the three ladies, isn't afraid to not hold back with his opinions on how he got things done and who he ended up working with. While the first commentary is livelier (not too surprising considering it has three performers and a moderator) this one is an essential listen for Russ Meyer enthusiasts as it really is, now that Meyer has passed on, a piece of cult film history.

    If that weren't enough, Arrow in conjunction with Blue Underground, have produced a brand new featurette entitled Go! Pussycat! Go! that clocks in at nearly a half an hour in length. Featuring brand new on camera interview footage with the three leading ladies as well as Susan Bernard shot exclusively for this DVD release and interspersed with some great behind the scenes photographs and promotional stills, this mini-documentary is a fun and informative look at the phenomena that the film has become in the forty years since Russ lensed it out in the desert. While some of the material covered in this piece is also dealt with in the commentary, you really can't have too much of the Pussycats and hey, this time out you get to see them as well as hear them.

    Rounding out the extra features are trailers for other films in the Arrow/Russ Meyer collection: Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, Blacksnake, Mudhoney, Vixen, Wild Gals Of The Naked West, Supervixens, Beneath The Valley Of The Ultravixens, 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.

    Faster Pussycat... Kill! Kill! – The Final Word:

    Arrow finally does what someone should have done a long, long time ago and gives Faster Pussycat... Kill! Kill! a fine and proper DVD release with some exceptional extra features that should make the film's multitude of fans very happy. The movie itself holds up really well and just seems to get better with age. Consider this one a 'must own' DVD (even if the presentation isn’t so hot)!

    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      I thought I had the French DVD, but that hour-long featurette is definitely on it. In any event, I love this film. It is perfect. I often state that BTVOTD is my favourite Meyer film, and it is, but this one is so amazing on every level.
    1. bgart13's Avatar
      bgart13 -
      Damn it, someone needs to rescue RM’s movies and release them in a definitive, modern set.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Quote Originally Posted by bgart13 View Post
      Damn it, someone needs to rescue RM’s movies and release them in a definitive, modern set.
      Good luck with those turds at the helm of the ship.

      I had totally forgotten about the AVManiacs thread where whatshisnuts joined up to threaten legal action hahaha. What a peen.
    1. Jack J's Avatar
      Jack J -
      I remember that thread. Ouch!

      I'd love to get a proper bluray set of Meyer's four roughies.