Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Russ Meyer’s Up! (1976)

If you’re familiar with Russ Meyer’s movies then you’ll pretty much know what to expect from Up!, and if you like his movies there’s real no reason not to like this one. It’s very much in the style of his previous movie, Supervixens, and like Beyond the Valley of the Dolls it was scripted by Roger Ebert (yes, that Roger Ebert). It has a totally insane plot, involving Nazis and a murder mystery. It has plenty of cartoon-style violence, lots of rednecks, and a host of women with extraordinarily large breasts.

It has even more sex and nudity than his earlier films, but like the violence the sex is done in a very tongue-in-cheek manner. It’s easy to make sex look ridiculous, but very few people have had Meyer’s talent for making sex funny. I can’t imagine anyone actually finding this movie titillating – it’s too silly and too funny. The plot involves an old guy with a German accent who looks like an elderly version of a certain well-known 20th century dictator, an old guy who is murdered by the time-honoured method of dropping a hungry piranha into his bathtub. We are then introduced to the spectacularly well-endowed Margo Winchester (Raven de la Croix), who quickly demonstrates that she’s not a woman to be trifled with when she kills a would-be rapist. She soon finds herself working in the local diner, and becoming involved with the sheriff. We also discover that any one of the townspeople may have been the murderer of the elderly German gentleman who lived in the gothic castle just outside of town, or indeed it may have been one of the young ladies with whom he shared the castle (and with whom he indulged in a variety of kinky sexual practices).

To help us keep track of the plot we have the Greek Chorus, in the form of a very naked Kitten Natividad. The resolution of the plot is as delightfully demented as you’d expect, coming from the director/screenwriter team who gave us Beyond the Valley of the Dolls . It’s all great fun. The Region 4 DVD includes interviews with Kitten Natividad and Raven de la Croix, a charming lady with a host of amusing anecdotes about the making of the movie.

If you’re new to the insanely bizarre world of Russ Meyer Up! provides a reasonable introduction, although I’d really recommend starting with some of his earlier films like Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! or Vixen! They truly don’t make movies like this any more, and I happen to think that’s rather sad. Modern cinema could do with a few eccentric mavericks like Russ Meyer.

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