Viking Night: Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
By Bruce Hall
July 23, 2013
If a movie makes you famous for the rest of your life, can you really call it "exploitation"?
That's probably a matter of opinion, but if the only reason they cast you is because of your big boobs, junky trunk, or killer cocktail walk, you might have a case. Put a girl like that in front of a camera, throw in some softcore sex, a little ultra-violence, some written-in-front-of-the-camera dialogue, and you'll find yourself tits-and-ass deep in what they call the "exploitation genre". People with no sense of humor say such films are nothing but a cheap attempt to capitalize on the young male predilection for sex, violence, and hot girls in go-go boots. If that's your attitude, it's easy to close your eyes and see the decline of Western civilization.
The more enlightened among us see the cinematic equivalent of a cheeseburger. It's not good for you, but it's so deliciously decadent, so fleetingly satisfying you can't help but love the way it feels, sitting there in the pit of your gut like a pile of wet socks. High art is great and all, but sometimes you just want to sit back, put your feet up and laugh at bad people doing dumb things. Sometimes you want a live action cartoon - with sex, violence, and hot girls in go-go boots. That's not a crime but when done well it's enough fun that it ought to be.
No one knew this better than Russ Meyer. He was godfather to grindhouse cinema, unofficial mentor to Quentin Tarantino and Rob Zombie, and the visionary mind behind films like "Motor Psycho", "Mondo Topless" and "Wild Gals of the Naked West". This alone earns him the biggest bust in the B-Movie Hall of Fame. But perhaps his greatest and most memorable creation is the ruthlessly violent, deliciously campy masterpiece known as "Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!"
Basically, it’s the story of three go-go dancers. Billie (Lori Williams) is the new girl, young, nubile, ten feet tall and bulletproof. Rosie (Haji) is the emotional center of the group. She’s experienced and hardened, but has a compassionate streak. Varla (Tura Satana) is the boss - a tough as nails sociopath who is in charge not because she wants to lead, but because she likes pushing people around. They make their living dancing as seedy clubs, bathed in darkness and swirling smoke, lost in dance, surrounded by the usual assortment of leering, lonely married guys and fat, sweaty truckers. A voiceover implies that inside every woman is a ticking, ten megaton time bomb that could go off at any time - thanks to the filthy, selfish machinations of such men.
Whether this represents a roundabout form of female empowerment or thinly veiled sexism is kind of irrelevant, because the key to enjoying a movie like this is to turn off the newsfeed in your head and just buy what the story is selling. “Pussycat” sets up a world where renegade women find themselves at odds with cruel men who view them as objects, forcing the ladies to assert themselves in super destructive ways. For our trio of dancers, this means spending their off hours on the California salt flats, drinking, brawling, and racing sportscars. One day, they are interrupted by Tommy and Linda (Ray Barlow, Sue Bernard), a clean cut teenage couple out for a joyride. Tommy and Varla butt heads, and I’ll just let you guess which one of them ends up face down in the sand with a crushed spine. Our newly minted murderers pump Linda full of drugs to keep her quiet, and take off into the desert.