Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965)
May 30, 2016 5:50 PM - Subscribe

Three go-go dancers holding a young girl hostage come across a crippled old man living with his two sons in the desert. After learning he's hiding a sum of cash around, the women start scheming on him.

Variety: Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! is a somewhat sordid, quite sexy and very violent murder-kidnap-theft meller which includes elements of rape, lesbianism and sadism, clothed in faddish leather and boots and equipped with sports cars. Some good performances emerge from a one-note script via very good Russ Meyer direction and his outstanding editing. It was brought in at $44,000 and uses California desert exteriors throughout.

Roger Ebert: What is it about Meyer that spurs critics to this hyperbole? I think it is an intensely personal reaction to the visceral power of Meyer's unusual images. Take away all the jokes, the elaborate camera angles, the violence, the action and the sex, and what remains is the quintessential Russ Meyer image: a towering woman with enormous breasts, who dominates all the men around her, demands sexual satisfaction and casts off men in the same way that, in mainstream sexual fantasies, men cast aside women.

Meyer's extraordinary women are of course fascinating to those with breast fetishes, but look a little longer and you will notice that the breasts are not always presented as centers of desire.

Instead, they're weapons used to intimidate men. Tura Satana, who plays the lead in "Faster, Pussycat," is extraordinary in appearance: Her makeup, with its slashes of Kabuki-style eyebrows, looks terrifying. Her black costume seems suited to a motorcycle gang. She never smiles. And her abundant cleavage seems as firmly locked in place as a Ninja Turtle's breastplate. One cannot think of her as fondleable.
What deep recesses of the psyche do these images address? The feminist and lesbian film critic B. Ruby Rich, writing at length on "Pussycat" in a recent Village Voice, said she dismissed "Pussycat" 20 years ago as just a skin flick. Seeing it again during its revival at New York's Film Forum, she had a different reaction, viewing it now as female fantasy, its images of "empowerment" fascinating to her. Meyer, from the beginning of his career and almost without exception, has filmed only situations in which women wreak their will upon men.

Inverse: Watching the film today, it’s still amazing to see the bizarre, high-concept things Meyer did in the guise of sexploitation (“nudie film,” as it was sometimes called, though Pussycat, unlike other Meyer flicks, actually features no nudity). It’s easy to understand, too, why his low-budget, low-exposure films grossed so much more than that of his contemporaries. Meyer flips archetypes of ‘40s and ‘50s Hollywood dramas on their head skillfully, with the help of a screenplay that instantly engages the viewer. The male characters are the ineffective one-dimensional figures who function only to lust after the women, and the three female leads are the ones able to effect action — by far the most powerful characters. They get handed the snappy one-liners (“What? Do people look better to you when they’re horizontal?”), drive cars as well as anyone in the Fast and the Furious series, and in the case of inimitable star and exotic dancer Tura Satana — who had a major role in defining the direction of the film, and improvised some of her dialogue — prefer to handle their adversaries with mixed martial arts.

One Room With A View: As much as Meyer had his problematic views of the opposite sex, it’s hard to say that he objectified them. That might seem a ridiculous claim to make if you watch even 60 seconds of one of his films, but crucially the women he portrays are never reduced to mere objects. They are nearly always the heroines of the film. They have agency and power. They are normally victorious against the normally male enemies they face. That’s more than can be said of many contemporary films which had an equally exploitative use of women – the James Bond series for example, with its revolving door of ‘Bond girls’ for him to use and abuse. Perhaps the most accurate phrase to describe Meyer’s relationship with women on film is that he’s having his cake and eating it. He wins, because he gets to live out his obsession with buxom women on film and they win because they get rare roles where they are the protagonists with power and control.


Full Movie on YouTube
posted by MoonOrb (2 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I've probably seen this movie three or four times, but only in pieces, never all in one sitting. Visually it is really striking and I find it instantly recognizable.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:44 PM on May 30, 2016

From my comment on the Tura Satana obit thread back in 2011:

The most intriguing detail from [Satana's] Wikipedia entry (first link in the OP):

Walking home from school at the age of nine she was gang raped by five men. Her attackers were never prosecuted and it was rumored that the judge had been paid off. This prompted her to learn the martial arts of aikido and karate and, over the next 15 years, track down each rapist and exact revenge. "I made a vow to myself that I would someday, somehow get even with all of them," she said years later. "They never knew who I was until I told them."

posted by Strange Interlude at 11:06 AM on May 31, 2016 [3 favorites]

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