A Letter To Elia
Martin Scorsese narrates and co-directs a documentary on the late filmmaker Elia Kazan
On Film4: 20 Apr 2:50AM
A junkyard hillbilly fails to satisfy his wife's voracious sexual appetite in this Russ Meyer sex farce
The third instalment in Meyer's very loose trilogy of Vixen movies turned out to be his last feature film. Written with film critic Roger Ebert, who took the pen-name R Hyde, it's a parody of small-town drama Our Town (1940), complete with a deadpan narrator who guides us through the troubled inhabitants' (sex) lives as they go about their daily business.
Chief among them is Lamar (Kerr), a junkyard worker whose fixation on anal sex is annoying voluptuous girlfriend Lavonia (former Miss Nude Universe and Meyer's sometime lover Natividad). Convinced he needs help, she hightails it out of the bedroom for some sympathetic loving elsewhere, then transforms herself into a Mexican stripper. Various randy complications ensue as Meyer lets the plot dissolve into a series of ever more outrageous sexual antics.
By the time Beneath The Valley Of The Ultra Vixens was released in 1979, porn had already crossed into the mainstream with hardcore releases like Deep Throat (1972) and The Devil In Miss Jones (1973) pushing the boundaries of the skin-flick. In such an era, Meyer's breast-fixated soft-core seems curious - it's like comparing a Carry On movie with Swedish hardcore. Aware of the need to offer something more to jaded audiences, but uninterested in hardcore proper, he includes lots more simulated sex, a few shots of penises (including a striking head-on close up) and a scene in which Kitten Natividad and the equally top-heavy co-star Sharon Hill share a 17 inch dildo.
Yet even the "hardest" moments in Meyer's film can't really shock or arouse since the tone is so light-hearted. Beneath The Valley Of The Ultra Vixens deliberately diffuses its eroticism with a soundtrack of hillbilly banjos, corny jokes and sexual sound effects that involve lots of cartoon-esque "boing, boing, boings". Equally ridiculous are the sexpot heroines themselves: monumentally well-endowed women who prove more freakish than alluring. Meyer's point, it seems, is that sex is inherently ridiculous, a comedy of errors that we might scoff at but can never escape.
Meyer's final film is the weakest of his Vixens outings, a dated parody of Our Town that seems uncomfortable with its increasingly explicit sexual couplings.
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