Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965)
Directed by Russ Meyer

Artistic Value: * * * ½
Entertainment Value: * * * *

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Three strippers, the surly, sociopathic Varla (Tura Satana), her lover, Rosie (Haji), and the carefree Billie (Lori Williams), are amusing themselves in the middle of the desert by fighting and playing chicken with one another when a young man, Tommy (Ray Barlow), and his girlfriend, Linda (Susan Bernard), show up. Tommy talks to the women and explains that he came to the desert so that he could time his racing car. Varla fails to see the point of doing this, since it does not involve beating anyone, and challenges the man to a race. He eventually agrees, but when Varla realizes her opponent might win, she veers in front of him and passes the finish line first. She then starts bullying Linda, prompting Tommy to come to the girl's defense. Varla turns on him and manages to break his spine and kill him. The three strippers then kidnap Linda and leave her boyfriend's corpse behind. Shortly thereafter, a gas station attendant (Michael Finn) tells the women about an old man (Stuart Lancaster) who lives in the desert with his two sons, the conflicted but basically decent Kirk (Paul Trinka) and the muscle bound, mentally handicapped Vegetable (Dennis Busch). The old man, the attendant goes on to explain, was crippled in a train accident and was given a substantial settlement, which he refuses to spend or put in a bank. Instead, he keeps the cash stashed somewhere at his isolated home. Seeing a chance to make some money, Varla decides that she and her cronies will head out to the old man's house and steal his treasure. Unfortunately for them, not only do their chosen victims have a few unpleasant habits of their own, but Billie starts to wonder if she wants to be mixed up in Varla's murders and robberies.

I will admit that I love exploitation films and that I love B-movies. Having said that, I should not surprise anyone when I announce that I enjoyed Russ Meyer's Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!. It has all the elements that make low budget exploitation movies entertaining. It is, however, better than most such movies are.

Perhaps the most appealing thing about the film is its cast of characters. Although I was frequently repulsed by the viciousness of the protagonists, I was still fascinated by these individuals. Varla is a snarling, sadistic creature who seems incapable of opening her mouth and not spitting insulting bile at another person. Her villainy does not, however, end there. She murders Tommy, kidnaps Linda, plans to rob the old man, and, when she learns that he and the Vegetable might be interested in acquiring Linda for their own possibly murderous pleasure, she appears to be ready to give the girl to them in exchange for money. She is cruel, selfish, dangerous, and always enthralling. I cannot say I ever felt any sympathy for the character, but I was easily engaged in her existence Happily, she is not the only captivating person in the movie. Both of her companions are well developed. Rosie, though not as cruel as is Varla, to whom she is completely devoted, is, nonetheless, both harsh and frequently disdainful of Billie. This last girl is wild and clearly enjoys life, but she is not as vicious as her companions are and soon begins to question her involvement in their activities. The old man is alive with anger. Having been crippled when he tried to save a woman who nearly fell in front of a train, he blames all women for his condition and hates them so much that he relishes hurting and even killing them. The Vegetable, though not deliberately cruel, is so slow that he fails to realize that if he plays with a girl too hard she might stop moving. The last brother, Kirk, while loyal to his father and brother, is concerned about their activities and actually displays some sense of morality.

All of these characters are brought to life with consistently well crafted dialogue. Much of it is overwrought, but it is generally clever and is always entertaining. Varla's mean-spirited sarcasm is fun to listen to. When she is at the gas station, for example, and the attendant comments about the virtues of exploring America, while staring at her exposed and almost impossibly deep cleavage, she remarks, "You won't find it down there, Columbus." The old man's ravings are also a hoot. At one point, he whines about women, saying, "They let 'em vote, smoke, and drive, even put 'em in pants. So what do you get? A Democrat for president, a lot of smoke up your chimney, Russian roulette on the highway. You can't even tell brother from sister, 'less you meet 'em head on." It is, however, Billie who has what is, perhaps, my favorite line of the movie. While she and her friends are dining with the old man and his family, she asks him for a cup of whisky by saying, "Mr. Host, I'm of legal age for whisky, votin', and lovin'. Now, the next election's two years away, and my love life ain't getting much better, so how about some of that good one-hundred percent?" Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! contains some great lines. Listening to the characters is never dull.

Happily, such dialogue is not weakened by inept performances. In fact, most of the actors acquit themselves well. Tura Satana, in particular, is fun to watch. I will not claim that she is a great actress. She is not. Actually, she is generally pretty over the top. Nonetheless, she has a wonderful screen presence. For one thing, she is very striking. I would not say that she is attractive, but she has a memorable face. More importantly, she has a memorable chest. This is a Russ Meyer movie, after all, so all of the actresses do show off their physical assets. There is no nudity in Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, but Satana wears such a low cut blouse that her gigantic breasts are always prominently displayed. Billie saunters about in very short shorts and a half top. Linda remains in a bikini through the entire film, and Rosie's missile-like breasts always look as though they are about to launch and tear through her tight shirt. Meyer clearly appreciated his actress's bodies and reveals his enthusiasm again and again and again (and again and again).

Finally, I should note that Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! is pretty exciting. The story the director tells is simple, but it is filled with action sequences and lurid events. The movie starts with the three female protagonists gyrating in a strip club in front of howling patrons and then hurtling down a desert road in their three racing cars. Billie, however, suddenly pulls off of the road and impetuously leaps into a stream. Varla then orders Rosie to retrieve her, which leads to an extended catfight between Rosie and Billie, since the former is not happy about getting into the stream to drag her friend out of it. After this, and after Varla's race with Tommy, which ends with her killing him with her bare hands, the girls find themselves in numerous other scrapes. These culminate in a crazy, whirlwind series of fights, chases, confrontations, and murders (perpetrated twice with a knife and several times with cars). The last section of the movie is a dazzling, dizzying experience of sheer ferocity.

With its wonderfully vile characters, its wild violence, its clever dialogue, and its great attention to its actresses' bodies, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! really is fun to watch.

Review by Keith Allen

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