by Allan Fish
(USA 1979 95m) DVD1/2
Gimme that ol’ time religion
p/d/ph/ed Russ Meyer w R.Hyde, B.Callum (Russ Meyer) m William Tasker art Michele Levesque
Francesca “Kitten” Natividad (Lavonia Shedd/Lola Langousta), Anne Marie (Eufaula Roop), Ken Kerr (Lamar Shedd), June Mack (Junk Yard Sal), Henry Rowland (Martin Bormann), Patrick Wright (Mr Peterbuilt), Sharon Ceccatti (Flovilla Thatch), Robert Pearson (Asa Lavender), Uschi Digard (Supersoul), Michael Finn (Semper Fidelis), Stuart Lancaster (The Man from Smalltown, USA), Russ Meyer (himself),
Can there be room for absolute trash in tomes covering the best works of the screen? Well, I wouldn’t be the first; various critics have had actual hardcore pornos appear in their selections (I have a couple myself), from Behind the Green Door to The Devil in Miss Jones, while fans of that murkiest of cinematic pools would point to Radley Metzger’s The Opening of Misty Beethoven (the best or the bunch) but Meyer would have been depressed by either. Meyer loathed hardcore porn; for all his reputation as the American cinema’s premier titman, he had his limits. He retired after making Ultravixens, but hadn’t even turned 60. Some accused him of being partly responsible for the rise of pornography into acceptable intellectual circles, an accusation he would deny strenuously. Yet what else is Ultravixens if it is not softcore porn?
Needless to say it isn’t just that, or it wouldn’t come within hailing distance of selection. This is not titillation to turn people on, it’s a comedy, a gross-out comedy before the term was even invented, a lambasting, free-for-all, taboo-shattering comedy which even could be, and has been, considered a satire. It’s insane, but it’s one of the funniest films of the 1970s.
It’s set in the world of that old euphemism Smalltown, U.S.A., and the tale is narrated by a local man (Stuart Lancaster, effectively playing his character from the earlier Supervixens and, perhaps, even the same one in Meyer’s best film, Mudhoney). There we find Lavonia, a sexually nuclear-charged woman married to junk yard worker Lamar Shedd, who’s doing a correspondence course despite having an IQ in the 30s. She wants sex, he’ll only give it to her in the tradesman’s entrance, sending her off to shag anyone she can, from local garbage truck driver Peterbuilt to a fourteen year old youth, Rhett, who she effectively rapes to begin his sexual education. Lamar is forced to find various ways to overcome his predilection for anal sex, taking in a trip to a gay dentist cum marriage guidance councillor to a sham radio faith healer who screws sinners to salvation.
I haven’t even mentioned Junk Yard Sal, a black all-in wrestler who would be enough to make anyone turn celibate, two truly disgusting hicks who work for her, ex-Nazi and gas station worker Martin Bormann, and of course Lancaster’s own wife, Digard’s Supersoul, seen only once taking it from behind from her 14 year old stepson. The comedy is raucous, sexually dominated and utterly laugh-out-loud hilarious. Frankly, even the names are enough to leave me in hysterics – especially Lamar Shedd – and the sex scenes are so side-splittingly cartoon-like you can’t help but laugh. There’s a purpose to it, to take the proverbial urine out of redneck middle-America, an America terrified by the thought of such sexually voracious jezebels. Kitten Natividad’s Lavonia/Lola is the nymphomaniac to end them all with a pubic area hairier than Peterbuilt’s chest allowing her to tug at it while stripping as her alter ego Lola Langousta as a child might tug at his dad’s beard. It’s stereotypical, it’s degenerate, but it’s just too funny. We all need one underground gross-out merchant. Some have John Waters, George Kuchar or Kenneth Anger. I’ll take Russ Meyer, with all his dungaree-sporting hicks, massively proportioned women, camp dentists, scatological detail, incest and maniacal psychotics. His editing alone is worthy of a eulogy, if one given by a girl with big breasts and southern drawl. And just you wait and see what Kitten Natividad uses a light bulb for. That’s really gotta hurt!