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The 100




Beyond the Valley of the Dolls
(1970)
Reviewed by Patrick Brogan
Rating: 1 Beans

here are two kinds of bad movies: 1.) the kind so awful and bad that you wonder how it ever got approved to be filmed (i.e. '95 version of SCARLET LETTER, SPICE WORLD, SPEED 2, etc.) 2.) the kind that is trying to be serious but it winds up being hysterical (i.e. BATTLEFIELD EARTH, SGT. PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND, MYRA BRICKENRIDGE). But with a Russ Meyer's film, it does have bad acting and a weak plot, that it appears to be a "bad" movie. But with it's sharp dialogue, rapid editing, good cinematography, and nice shots of women's assests, a Russ Meyer film is one to watch at a party or in the theater. I recently saw his most acclaimed film in the cinema a few weeks ago, BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS. And seeing it with an audience made the film more enjoyable and entertaining than watching it at home alone. Not anything to do with the trashy Jacqulin Susan bestseller and the terrible 1967 film with Patty Duke, BEYOND is similar tale of three young female talents from Smallville U.S.A. who all go to Hollywood to make it big, and experience the cruel world of show business. There's leader red-head Kelly MacMamara (Dolly Read) on lead gituar, brunette Casey (Cynthia Myers) on rhythm and African-American Pet (Marcia McBroom) on drums. Their manager and Kelly's boyfriend is Harris Allsworth (David Gurian) a man who looks like a older version of Greg Brady. They get an offer to go to Hollywood and make it big, so they hop in their Volkswagon Bus and go on Route 66 to Hollywood (ah, the early seventies, it seemed so groovy). Once there, the four meet Ronnie "Z-Man" Barzell (John Lazar) who owns and runs pretty much all of the young talent in the city. Z-Man signs the group on a contract, which means less time and involvement for Harris and Kelly. Kelly then has an affair with movie stud Lance Rocke (Michael Blodgett) a golden hair actor who thinks he's gods gift to the world. Meanwhile, Harris has an affair with porno starlett Ashley St. Ives (a very buxom and sexy Edy Williams "former Mrs. Russ Meyers). Ashley loves sex, and only wants to have sex anywhere but in the bedroom, the backseat of a Jaguar, Rolls Royce, in a boat, on the beach, etc. While Casey becomes very close and falls in love with clothing desingner Roxanne (VIXEN star Erica Gavin). And Pet falls in love with struggling law student and good guy Emerson (Harrison Page). But, Emerson has to compete with Randy Black (James Inglehart) a boxer who uses philosphies like Mahummah Ali, yet their horrible. Finally, there's Kelly's rich and friendly aunt, Susan Lake (Phyllis Davis) who is giving thoughts on marrying nice gentleman Baxter Wolfe (Charles Napier) against her attorney's Porter Hall (Duncan McLeod) advice. And the plot thickens which includes Nazis, transexuals, abortions, drugs, Martin Borman, and sex sex sex! BVD is a film that appears to be dramatic, but it's actually a funny satire. It pokes fun of those cliched stories that has young Alice going into the world of the corrupt and bad. I know that Paul Verhoven was doing the same thing with SHOWGIRLS, however, the film going public was too stupid to realize that. With such corny but funny dialogue like "I want to strap you on!" and "Up yours Ratso!" One cannot help but laugh. Seeing it in a full theater, the audience was laughing at not only the dialogue but also the scenes. With an abortion doctor wearing far sighted glasses, it shows that this film shouldn't be taken seriously. People think that Meyers was trying to be serious with this film, and he wasn't. Co-writer Roger Ebert (the same film critic Roger Ebert) admitted that BVD is just a satire of the over dramatic films of that time. If Meyers was trying to make a serious film (and I can't see that) then the mood would have been different. Meyers is know for his satire, but he's more known for his big girls. And when I say big girls I mean Double D's. He casts his women (at least the important ones) by the size of their chest, than their talent. That is why none of the actresses are that good. And the actress are already use to baring it all like Playboy models Cynthis Myers and Edy Williams. This is a cult movie that was made before the midnight showcase of the overrated ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW. With the ROCKY HORROR, the audience has to yell out dialogue to make the corny dialogue in the film to be more funnier. But with BVD, all the audience has to do is just to sit back and laugh. And it's fun to watch it more than once. After laughing at the bad dialogue and hilarious events in the film, then one can oogle over the heaving beauties. I wouldn't call this Meyer's best film (that's for UP!) but I can see why Meyers picks this film as his favorite. It's because it's the first film that people don't take Meyers serious. If you're going to watch it, invite a group of people (at least five) both men and women, grab the popcorn and laugh your head off with this cult classic.


Other reviews for this movie:

Jeff DeLuzio




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