Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Motor Psycho (1965)

Russ Meyer’s Motor Psycho, made earlier the same year, can be seen as a kind of dry run for his 1965 masterpiece Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! The formula is more or less the same, but with the genders reversed.

Three drifters on motorcycles suddenly appear, and begin terrorising the locals in a remote desert community. After raping a vet’s wife they encounter an old guy in a truck, accompanied by his new young bride Ruby (played by Meyer regular Haji). As the violence continues to escalate, Ruby and the vet find themselves in pursuit of the three drifters.

It has very much the feel of a western, with motorcycles and trucks in place of horses and covered wagons. The desolate setting is used very effectively. There’s the usual Meyer mix of insanely overheated lust and violence, of men resorting to violence to cover up their personal inadequacies, of melodrama and weirdness. The movie has a similar look to Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! but with a slightly less frenetic editing style.

Like most of Meyer’s movies it features sudden outbursts of extreme violence, as lusts and repressions and resentments build up to create a pressure cooker that must inevitably explode. And like most of his films, it has interesting and confronting things to say about the violence of the society it depicts. It’s also notable for being one of the first films to deal with the dark side of the US involvement in Vietnam, with the leader of the hoodlums being a psychotic Vietnam vet spiralling ever downwards into increasing madness, still waiting for the choppers that will never arrive.

It’s not quite as successful as Pussycat but it’s still very much worth seeing. These two films, along with Lorna and the very underrated Mudhoney, complete Meyer’s early cycle of films dealing with repression and violence. The Region 2 DVD pairs Motor Psycho with Good Morning... and Goodbye! The transfer looks wonderful, and does ample justice to Meyer’s stunning black-and-white cinematography.

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