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USA 1970
Directed by
Russ Meyer
105 minutes
Rated R

Reviewed by
David Michael Brown
4 stars

Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls

Synopsis: All-girl band, The Carrie Nations, hit LA in search of fame and fortune but all they find is sex, drugs and rock 'n roll. Seduced by the salacious charms of Ronnie 'Z-Man' Barzell, a record producer, the girl's spiral into the cesspool of the rock industry. Relationships are destroyed as the bonds that tie them together are stretched to breaking point. Suicide, orgies, abortion, fellatio with a handgun, sexually-confused superheroes leaves almost the entire cast in meltdown, all in the name of rock 'n'roll.

Russ Meyer stunned 20th Century Fox when he handed them Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Written by film critic Roger Ebert as an unofficial sequel to The Valley of the Dolls, the studio was not expecting the sordid drug filled epic that Meyer gave them. The film was given the dreaded X rating by the censors and an incensed Fox buried the film. Quite a bizarre move as they must have known the type of films that the breast-obsessed director had been making. Even if it is full of blatant nudity, shocking violence, jive-talkin' dialogue and outrageously-proportioned young ladies it shouldn't have been a surprise.

Until this point in his career Meyer had been fiercely independent. From the early days as the King of the Nudies in the 50s with The Immoral Mr Teas through to his torrid 60s romps like Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! Meyer's work had been groundbreaking. His resumé reads as a step-by-step history of sexploitation films. Vixen, however, was the film that made him a rich man. Hugely successful for a limited budget the studios took notice and Fox put Meyer on a contract which lasted two just films. Beyond The Valley of the Dolls failed at the box office and his next film, The Seven Minutes, fared even worse. Meyer retreated back to his own mammary-engorged independent world and was soon making one of his biggest ever hits, Supervixens.

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls revels in its sizeable budget. The character of Z-Man is the film's decadent trump card, foppish in style with groovy banter to match; it's no wonder that Mike Myers borrowed so much from this film for his Austin Powers movies. Whole lines of dialogue are matched word for word by the International Man of Mystery in Myer's homage to this wonderful film: "This is my happening baby, and it freaks me out!"

The tunes, written by Lynne Carrey are funky, the girls are gorgeous and Russ Meyers ex-wife, Edie Williams, positively voracious as party girl, Ashley St. Ives: "You're a groovy boy; I'd like to strap you on sometime." Meyers directorial flourishes are abundant; rapid-fire editing, candy-coloured cinematography, inexplicable Nazis and lashings of naked flesh abound. The film is a joy from beginning to its astounding end and a must-see for any aficionado of cult cinema.




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