7 June 2001 | Charles Garbage
RM's last and least
It was Russ Meyer who pretty much launched the new Sexploitation industry in 1959 when he made THE IMMORTAL MR. TEAS, the first nudie-cutie which grossed one-million dollars and spawned a new breed of adults-only movies throughout the early-60's. Nudie-cuties and nudist-colony movies then became a bore among the male audience so they began to mature. "Roughies" were films which mixed nudity and violence with women getting what they deserve. By that time around the mid-60's the Sexploitation era was at it's peak with "Roughies" like OLGA'S HOUSE OF SHAME and THE DEFILERS along side more creative and even more entertaining nudies like KISS ME QUICK knocking 'em out at grindhouses along 42nd street.
By the 70's, the innocence of Sexploitation had transformed itself in to "porno". Old masters obeyed their audiences' lusts and turned up with more dirtier flicks containing more nudity and less artistic touches. Some usually went over-board while others like Russ Meyer kept their brains in their head to create more funnier and sexier films which we can now look upon as art that has been lost through this age of video-taped and digitised filth.
Meyer's 70's features were usually lots of fun. Films like SUPERVIXENS and UP! are highly original and humorous spins on society with the typically great Meyeresque cinematography, editing and dialogue. BENEATH THE VALLEY OF THE ULTRA-VIXENS is his last film to date made in 1979, the coming-approach of video-cassette in which men could just go their local videostore to get aroused instead of their local grindhouse. It was also a year where things were really changing in the Sexploitation industry and even auteurs like Russ Meyer seemed to be going along with the flow. ULTRA-VIXENS is a pretty outrageous film but that does not necessarily mean it's a great film. Stuart Lancaster repeats his role from SUPERVIXENS as a farmer living in Smalltown USA narrating the tale of Lavonia (Kitten Natidad) and her husband Lamar who does not seem to be as horny as the rest of the town. They go around laying the town's small population and end up happily laying each other again. ULTRA-VIXENS contains *lots* of exaggerated sex and (lower-deck) nudity. A bouncy-boobed evangelist makes it with Martin Boorman to 'Old-Time Religion' while Kitten is fully naked for over half the movie making it with lingerie salesmen, nurses and underage boys. So basically, this is a movie that will satisfy the more perverse members of the audience. You can be anything but a porn freak to enjoy most of Russ Meyer's movies but it is a completely different case here. His amazing twenty-year career in film-making explored a whole range of Sexploitation sub-genres: nudie-cuties, "documentaries" on busty women, backwoods dramas, morality tales and bigger budget films for Fox Studios all make up for this; a tasteless, boring, totally unsophisticated piece of pornographic crap which seems to crave for more of it's director's special touches. You do get (in very small proportions) his snappy editing, cinematography and characters from previous films. Stuart Lancaster, who had been appearing in Meyer's films on and off since 1965, can sometimes be entertaining to watch, Uschi Digart once again plays Soul (humping her 15-year-old son), Henry Rowland as Martin Boorman and even RM himself shows at the end.
During the last forty years men's entertainment has depended on it's (mostly male) audience and what they enjoy viewing. THE IMMORTAL MR. TEAS was made at a time when most bachelors were clean-cut and sophisticated. Today's hard-core, non-simulated sex viewed over the internet seems to be aimed at brainless sleazebags who have never had a girlfriend or, for that matter, many friends. Meyer made this right in between these two eras and seems to be confused whether he's doing another one of his standards or a film for perverts. It's hard to sit through a film who's director does not know what he's getting at. Basically Russ should have stopped with UP! Like the rest of the reviewers, some of you may enjoy ULTRA-VIXENS more than I did.