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BEYOND the VALLEY of the DOLLS (aka BVD)

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    Posted: June 13 2006 at 5:30am

FROM THE OFFICIAL RAZZIE® MOVIE GUIDE by Head RAZZberry John Wilson -- available from Amazon.com

BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS (1970/20th Century-Fox)

WHO’S TO BLAME 

CAST:  Dolly Read (Kelly); Cynthia Myers (Casey); Marcia McBroom (Pet); John La Zar (“Z-Man” Barzell); Michael Blodgett (Lance Rocke); David Gurian (Harris); Duncan McLeod (Porter Hall); Charles Napier (Baxter Wolfe); Edy Williams (Ashley St. Ives)

CREW: Directed by Russ Meyer, Screenplay by Roger Ebert, Story by Meyer and Ebert (Yes, THAT Roger Ebert!)

RAVE REVIEWS  

“Weirdly funny and a real curio – Rather like a Grandma Moses illustration for a work by the Marquis de Sade.”     John Simon / The New Yorker


“A psychedelic wow that serves up the free love, plunging necklines, androgynous boys, and lusty lezzies of the era with a narcotized abandon.”    Michael Musto / The Village Voice 


   “If you're going to watch it, invite a group of people (at least five)both men and women, grab the popcorn and laugh your head off with this cult classic.”     Patrick Brogan / BadMovieNight.com

PLOT, WHAT PLOT?

  One of the hardest things to do well is an “intentional” Bad Film. If you can pull off being deliberately tasteless, clueless and funny all at once, you’re a master. The most often-cited example of this extremely select genre is ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES, which, despite its killer title, is actually just a bad movie. The true best of this genre, complete with nudity, violence, kinky sex, oddball characters and dippy dialogue to spare, is breast-obsessed director Russ Meyer’s 1970 “sequel” BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS. As a lawsuit by Jacqueline Susann forced the film’s print ads to declare: “This is NOT a sequel – There has never been anything like it!”

 Riffing on the three-young-chicks-trying-to-make-it-in-Tinsel-Town premise of Susann’s original VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, Meyer’s film focuses on a three-girl rock band called The Carrie Nations, who hit Hollywood at its hedonistic, head-tripping peak: The end of the Swingin’ 60s. Almost everyone in this film was either making their screen debut, would never be seen again in any mainstream movie, or both. And every actor’s rank amateurishness only contributes to it being the wild joy ride of a movie that it is. Psychedelic in the extreme, BEYOND was written for Meyer by, of all people, now respected film critic Roger Ebert. Together, Meyer and Ebert manage to get into their film elements of almost every movie genre there is, and spoof them all in a way that leaves the audience certain they were in on the joke. This one is so out there it had to have been bad on purpose.

 The Carrie Nations consist of Kelly (Dolly Read), Casey (Cynthia Myers) and Pet (Marcia McBroom), two white babes and one Black chick, whose music catches the ear of rock impresario (and weirdo extraordinaire) Z-Man Barzell. Before you can say “orgy,” these three young innocents find themselves sucked into the sleazy sex-and-drugs scene of the time – lusted after by lesbians, dirty old man lawyers and just about everyone they meet. The band’s manager, Harris (David Gurian) has an affair on the side with porn star Ashley St. Ives (Edy Williams) and everything ends in near-tragedy as he plummets to the stage from the rafters during a TV appearance by the Carrie Nations. This particular scene, with its deliberately melodramatic set-up and payoff (and its use of brilliantly snide sound effects) summarizes what’s so wonderful about BEYOND. Beyond mere trash, this film exists on a level of social commentary and self-awareness all too rare in mainstream Hollywood movie making. As Ebert called it on the film’s tenth anniversary, BEYOND is “a movie that got made by accident when the lunatics took over the asylum.” 

 Despite Susann’s objections, BEYOND became the first X-rated movie to receive wide general release, and on a budget of about $1 million, went on to gross over $9 million. Unlike its Fox stable mate from that same year, MYRA BRECKINRIDGE, BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS is not only eminently watchable, it is in some ways even more entertaining today. Sadly, many of the truths it reveals are still true in Hollywood. For a movie that set out to be trashy from the git-go, BEYOND is head-and-bazooms above-and-beyond any other film like it…but then, there really is no other film quite like it!

DIPPY DIALOGUE  

 Z-Man (John LaZar) surveying the wild Hollywood party he’s hosting: “This is MY happening, and it freaks me out!”

AVAILABILITY 

BVD, as its devoted fans refer to it, is available on VHS, and now on DVD, from Fox Home Video through Amazon.com

Ye Olde Head RAZZberry
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