6 Classic Trailers For March 25th, 2022


Since it’s Oscar week, it seems like a good idea to devote the latest edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Film trailers to 6 classic films that received not a single Oscar nomination. That’s the way the Oscars are unfortunately. Sometimes, the best films are totally ignored.

For instance….

  1. Chappaqua (1967)

1967 was a great year for the movie so perhaps it’s understandable that the Academy somehow overlooked Chappaqua.  Still, this film was far more deserving a nomination than Doctor Doolittle.

2. Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1971)

Valley of the Dolls received an Oscar nominations for its score.  However, it’s unofficial sequel didn’t even receive that.  Not a single nomination went to Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, not even Best Original Song.  In 1970, the Academy just wasn’t ready.

3. Coffy (1973)

Ellen Burstyn certainly deserved the Oscar for Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore but still, how could the Academy not nominate Pam Grier for her work in Coffy?

4. Dawn of the Dead (1978)

The Academy will probably never embrace the zombie genre.  They certainly weren’t prepared to do so in 1978.  That said, it’s way past time to give Tom Savini an honorary award.

5. The Warriors (1979)

The Warriors is another classic that went unnominated.  Not even the music got a nomination.  David Patrick Kelly was totally snubbed.  The Baseball Furies should have been sitting in front row on Oscar night.  It’s a true shame.

6. Death Wish 3 (1985)

Give the Giggler an Oscar!

4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Russ Meyer Edition


4 Or More Shots From 4 Or More Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

100 years ago, on the very day, Russ Meyer was born in San Leandro, California.  Meyer would get his start filming newsreels during World War II (many of his newsreel footage were used in the 1970 Oscar winner, Patton).  When he returned to the United States, he continued to make films.  Meyer was one of the pioneers of the adult film industry, though his films seem rather quaint and innocent when compared to the industry’s later films.  Meyer’s strong visual sense and his intentionally over-the-top plots made him a favorite amongst underground critics.  In the 70s, he was briefly embraced by mainstream Hollywood but, unhappy with having to deal with studio bosses, Meyer returned to making the type of independent, grindhouse films that made him famous.

Russ Meyer was 82 years old when he died in 2004.  He was acclaimed as one of America’s first and greatest independent filmmakers.

Here are 4 Safe-For-Works From 4 Russ Meyer Films.

4 Shots From 4 Films

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965, dir by Russ Meyer, DP: Walter Schenk)

Motorpsycho (1965, dir by Russ Meyer, DP: Russ Meyer)

Cherry, Harry, & Raquel! (1970, dir by Russ Meyer, DP: Russ Meyer)

Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls (1970, dir by Russ Meyer, DP: Fred J. Koenekamp)

Rockin’ in the Film World #8: BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS (20th Century Fox 1970)


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Sex and drugs and rock and roll!! That about sums up BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, a lightning-fast paced Russ Meyer extravaganza covering the end of the decadent 60’s with a BANG… literally! The movie was originally intended to be a sequel to 1967’s soapy and sappy VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, but Meyer and screenwriter Roger Ebert (yes, THAT Roger Ebert!) changed course and concocted this satirical, surrealistic saga that skewers Hollywood, rock music, the sexual revolution, and anything else that got in its way.

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Like the original, the story concerns three nubile young ladies trying to make it out in La-La Land (that’s Los Angeles, folks), only this time they’re a Midwestern rock power trio named The Kelly Affair. Kelly (Dolly Read, former Playmate and soon-to-be wife of comedian Dick Martin), Pet (model/actress Marcia McBroom), and Casey (Playmate Cynthia Meyers), along with Kelly’s boyfriend and band manager Harris…

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Embracing the Melodrama #26: Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (dir by Russ Meyer)


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THE FILM YOU ARE ABOUT TO SEE IS NOT A SEQUEL TO “VALLEY OF THE DOLLS.” IT IS WHOLLY ORIGINAL AND BEARS NO RELATIONSHIP TO REAL PERSONS, LIVING OR DEAD. IT DOES, LIKE “VALLEY OF THE DOLLS” DEAL WITH THE OFT-TIMES NIGHTMARE WORLD OF SHOW BUSINESS BUT IN A DIFFERENT TIME AND CONTEXT. — Disclaimer at the beginning of Beyond The Valley of the Dolls (1970)

If I hadn’t reviewed it already, I would definitely have included 1967’s Valley of the Dolls in this series on film melodrama.  However, seeing as I have already reviewed it (and you can read that excellent review here!), I figured why not take this opportunity to review a film that was legally required to acknowledge that it was not a sequel to Valley of the Dolls.

I’m speaking of 1970’s Beyond the Valley of The Dolls, a satirical take on every Hollywood melodrama that had been made up until that point.  It was directed by notorious exploitation veteran Russ Meyer and written by film critic Roger Ebert.  The combination of Meyer’s unapologetic tawdriness and Ebert’s film school in jokes comes together to create a truly memorable film experience.

Okay, so what happens in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls?  Let’s see if I can keep all this straight because, in its clearly satirical way, BVD is a bit like the Game of Thrones of satiric Hollywood melodrama.  There are so many characters with so many subplots that it helps to have a flowchart to try to keep track of it all.

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Kelly (Dolly McNamara), Casey (Cynthia Myers), and Pet (Marcia McBroom) start a band and, after playing the high school graduation dance, they decide to head out to Los Angeles to become famous.  Accompanying them is their manager, Harris Allsworth (David Gurian), who is in love with Kelly and spends the entire film looking miserable.  As opposed to the three main characters in Valley of the Dolls, Kelly, Casey, and Pet do not arrive in Hollywood as wide-eyed innocents.  Instead, they’re already talking endlessly about their love of weed, pills, and sex but they do so in dialogue that is so deliberately over-the-top, so intentionally artificial, and so cheerfully delivered by the three girls that it’s impossible not to root for them.  More than that, though, these are three strong, independent women and, regardless of whether they’re appearing a film directed by a man best known for being obsessed with boobs, that’s still three more than you’ll find in most American films from both the 70s and today.

Fortunately, the girls already have a contact in Los Angeles.  Kelly’s rich aunt Susan (Phyllis Davis) knows all sorts of people and wants to share some of her fortune with Kelly.  Unfortunately, Susan’s lawyer is the evil Porter Hall (Duncan McLeod), who hates free spirits.  Porter tries to keep Kelly from getting the money but Kelly is willing to seduce Porter in order to get that money, even after she discovers that the uptight Porter wears his black socks to bed.  Obviously, Porter is a bad guy but who can help Aunt Susan realize this?  How about the wonderfully named man’s man, Baxter Wolfe (Charles Napier)?

ZMan

Through Aunt Susan’s influence, the girl’s end up at a party thrown by the legendary music promoter Z-Man (John Lazar).  Z-Man is one of those flamboyant 70s characters who simply has to be seen to be believed.  Z-Man speaks in some of the most florid dialogue ever heard and there are more than a few secrets hidden behind all of that eccentricity.  But, at the moment, what’s important is that Z-Man takes control of the girl’s group — now known as the Carrie Nations (which is actually a pretty good name for a band) — and makes them famous overnight.

Soon, Kelly is spending more and more time with notorious Hollywood gigolo Lance Rocke (Michael Blodgett, who gives a hilariously narcissistic performance) and ignoring poor Harris.  This drives Harris into the waiting arms of porn star Ashley St. Ives (Eddy Williams) who, with her unapologetic and non-neurotic approach to sex, is probably the most stable character in the entire film.

Beyond

Casey, feeling uncomfortable with the Hollywood jet set, is soon popping pills like they’re candy.  She finally starts to find some comfort and happiness with Roxanne (Erica Gavin).

And finally, Pet falls in love with Emerson Thorne (Harrison Page), a serious-minded law student.  However, as much as Pet and Emerson seem to be meant for each other (and they even get a slow-motion montage where they run through a green field), Pet is still tempted to stray by a punch drunk boxer (James Inglehart).

And finally, there’s Otto (Henry Rowland).  Otto is Z-Man’s butler.  Apparently, he’s also a Nazi war criminal.

And, not surprisingly, all of this lust and all of these secrets lead to a suicide attempt, renewed love, and finally a disturbingly violent massacre that leaves the surviving members of the cast feeling wiser and sadder but not necessarily older.  Fortunately, just in case we the viewers might be wondering how all of this could have happened, a somber-voiced narrator suddenly explains what every character did wrong and how those mistakes led to their fate.  Thanks, narrator guy!

So, obviously, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is not meant to be taken seriously.  The film is a satire of all of the self-serious and hypocritically moralistic Hollywood melodramas that came before it .  Fortunately, the largely likable cast plays all of this absurd material with the straightest of faces and the end result is a film that is sordid and oddly likable.  This is one of those films that, if it offends you, you may be taking life too seriously.

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What Lisa Marie Watched Last Night: Myra Breckinridge (dir. by Michael Sarne)


Last night, as I struggled to get some sleep, I ended up turning on the television to HBO and watching a truly infamous film — 1970’s Myra Breckenridge.  Based on a novel by Gore Vidal (a writer that I generally have little use for), Myra Breckinridge is infamous for being one of two X-rated film released by 20th Century Fox in 1970.  (The other one was Russ Meyer’s Beyond The Valley of the Dolls.)

Why Was I Watching It?

Because I’ve read a lot of books devoted to “the worst films ever made.”  And all of them mention 1970’s Myra Breckinridge as being one of the worst ever made.  And having seen the film, I can say that they’re right.

What’s It About?

Well, that’s a good question.  Okay, there’s a bisexual film critic named Myron Breckinridge (played by an actual film critic named Red Reed).  Myron gets a sex change operation from a pot-smoking doctor played by John Carradine.  “It won’t grow back,” Carradine warns him.

Next thing you know, Myron is Myra and is now being played by Raquel Welch.  Pretending to be Myron’s window, Myra goes to the acting school that is run by Myron’s uncle Buck (John Huston) and ends up falling in love with an acting student (played, pretty badly in her film debut, by Farrah Fawcett).  Unfortunately, Fawcett’s in love with a cowboy from Oklahoma so Myra ends up anally raping the cowboy with a big dildo.

Oh, and a 70 year-old Mae West in the film for some reason.  She plays a talent agent. 

It all sounds a lot more interesting than it actually is.

What Worked?

Nothing.  Just in case I’m not being clear, allow me to clarify: Nothing.  Seriously, this may indeed be the worst movie I have ever actually sat through.  What’s said is that it didn’t even work on a “so-bad-its-good” level.  I love trashy film but Myra Breckinridge isn’t really interesting enough to be trashy.  It’s just an amazingly boring film that thinks it’s about sex. 

I’ve also read some who have claimed that this film, bad as it is, has a certain camp appeal.  And, if you’ve never actually seen a campy film, you might think that Myra Breckinridge is camp.  However, camp is not boring.  Myra Breckinridge is.

Actually, there is one scene that has an odd, “you’ve-got-to-see-this-crap” appeal to it and here it is.  Mae West sings “Hard to Handle.” 

What Doesn’t Work:

The entire freaking film.  Seriously.  I mean, I don’t even know where to begin or what specifically to point out because, if you simply take this film’s failings on a problem-by-problem basis, it creates the false impression that the film is somewhat watchable. 

Okay, here’s a few things that I simply will not be able to live with myself if I don’t take a few moments to be a bitch about:

1) There’s a lot of bad movies that are distinguished by interesting or, at the very least, watchable performances.  It’s as if the actors realize that they’re going to go down with the ship unless they bring something new to the film.  (Meanwhile, so-called great films feature some of the worst performances this side of Avatar…)  Unfortunately, Myra Breckinridge is not one of those films.  The cast alternates beyond going insanely overboard (like John Huston and Rex Reed) to delivering their lines with a dull contempt that seems to be directed as much at us as at themselves (like Raquel Welch.)

By the way, Raquel Welch is actually one of my favorite of the old school film stars.  For me, she’s a bit of a role model, a strong Latina who never felt the need to apologize for being both a sex symbol and an intelligent, succesful woman.  But Welch really does give a pretty bad performance here.  Then again, I would argue that she gives the material exactly the amount of effort it deserves.

2) As bad as the cast is, no one is as terrible as Mae West.  The 70 year-old West came out of retirement to play her role here.  Anyway, it’s hard to understand why she’s in this film.  At one point, when she meets a 6’7 actor, she says she’s only concerned with the seven inches.  Now, imagine this being said by your great-great-great-grandma and you have some idea what it’s like to watch her performance here.

3) This film was made in 1970 and it attempts to be all counter-cultural by having “hippies” wandering around in the background.  As well, we get a lot of hard-hitting political satire.  By that, I mean that various fat men in cowboy hats pop up and complain about “smut” and “nudity” in the movies.  I guess the audience is supposed to go, “Oh my God, they’re talking about movies like this!”  It’s for this reason that I think that Myra Breckinridge is actually secretly meant to be a piece of right-wing propaganda.

4) Finally, for no real reason, clips from old 20th Century Fox films are littered throughout the film, popping up randomly to…well, I was going to say “comment on the action,” but few of them manage to do that.  Basically, it works like this: you see Raquel Welch anally raping a man with a dildo.  And then you see a clip of Stan Laurel for a few seconds.  Then, you’re back to Raquel anally raping the man.  Suddenly, there’s a clip of Claudette Colbert smiling.  Suddenly, Raquel’s back and she’s still anally raping the man.  And by the way, I’m not just making this up so I’ll have an example.  This is what actually happens in the film. 

5) And again, allow me to clarify that this film — which features Raquel Welch using a dildo to anally rape a man — is still one of the most boring things ever made.

6) “Okay,” you’re saying, “if you hated it so much then why did you sit through the entire freaking movie, Lisa?”  I did it because, once I start watching a movie, I can’t stop watching until it ends.  That’s my addiction.  That’s my curse.  That’s a duty that I’ve proudly accepted as a film lover.  And not even Myra Breckenridge is going to keep me from doing my duty.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments:

Yes, I know that this is where I traditionally offer up some sort of teasingly vague comment about my first year at college or where I admit that I’m scared of dogs, heights, swimming, and the area directly behind the television.  And you would be justified in thinking that a film that claims to celebrate sexual freedom and bisexuality would give me the perfect excuse to be all sorts of TMI.

But you know what?  There were absolutely no “Oh my God!  Just like me!” TMI moments in Myra Breckenridge because there was not one single moment that, in any way, rang true or seemed to possess any sort of insight about…well, about anything.  For an X-rated film that was specifically about sexuality, Myra Breckinridge left me as dry as the Sahara.

So, sorry — for the first time, I can say that I watched something that had absolutely no “OMG!  Just like me!” moments.

Lessons Learned:

I will watch anything.

Scenes I Love: Beyond The Valley of The Dolls


Since I featured a clip from Valley of the Dolls as one of the scenes that I love, I figured it was only appropriate that I also share a scene from that film’s unauthorized, Roger Ebert-penned sequel, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

So, here’s the Carrie Nations performing the song “Find It” at the high school prom.  I think what makes this scene stand out is, not only the music, but the discovery that apparently, 30 year-olds still went to high school in the 1970s.