In the meantime in honor of Kat Ellinger's new chthonic podcast To the Devil a Daughter (on Spotify), the first episode which is about Russ Meyer's Faster Pussycat and Vixen. As a committed Paglian, I am a huge fan! Here's a Deadly Women round-up, including a piece I meant to publish earlier but accidentally deleted. Patiently transcribed from an old preview screenshot, you're welcome! Kat has kind of made me realize my 'amok chthonic' feminism hinges on my finding the badass femme attractive, so apologies if I slant that way. Know too for me it's also largely in the performance. Are they going for broke, pushing the envelope past the point of cutesy or posey? I mean are they possessed of the maenad gnashing frenzy wildness at the core of the fully sexually voracious, Meyeresque, goddess? If so, argh, I be for ye.
Whether harpooning little girls' beach balls, kissing fat mental patients while grinding her heel into their toes, or seducing and then Strangers on a Train-ing some dissolute golf pro after he loses a match and goes off the drunken midlife crisis deep end, Carol Linley owns every moment she's onscreen in Once You Kiss a Stranger (1969). She even one-ups (if such a thing is possible) Robert Walker's Bruno in Hitchcock's original Strangers on a Train, a film Stranger makes no bones about imitating ( Linley's character is named Diana Granger, last name of the star, Train-stranger Farley, whose memoir Include Me Out saved my life once) by virtue of being one of the homicidal minxes so beloved by this blog. What middle-aged, still-handsome, slightly drunken-relapsed golf pro (regularly kept from the top prize fee by a better/douchier golf pro on the same tour) played by TV mainstay Paul Burke, lonesome, awash in self-pity, and semi-suicidal, could resist?
|Sometimes there's a buggy|
And if she's still expected to report in to her shrink every week to avoid going back to the funny farm, and if she was secretly still homicidal, manipulative nutcase, only now endowed with more Patricia Highsmith cunning and less Raymond Chandler laudanum-fueled impulsiveness, well you would have Diana Granger. And what a lucky soon-to-be-framed man you'd be!
But though Diana is wild and able, and everything seems ducky for some sexy hijinx, Once You Kiss... is. not unlike their hook-up itself, wondrously staged (the real thrill of these kinds of Fatal Attraction/Misty-for-Me-type pics is the first third, but just as Diana's scheme falls apart as it unravels in the story, so too does the film fall apart since the writers don't know how to parcel out information to keep us guessing and worried over Paul's now shaky fate. Both Lynley's parents already know she's insane (vs. Bruno's in-denial parents), and she has already been committed once before, which kind of weakens her testimony. The fact that the guy she wants dead is her shrink (the ever-sane White Bissell). There's no reason to think some random golf pro, breezing through town, clean record, is going to want to kill some random shrink, as opposed to the shrink's psycho gamin patient who she knows was about to re-commit her. It's already basically a no-brainer who the cops will believe once you sober up long enough to tell them, Paul. What's worse, Diana even undoes the solid fake evidence she created from tape recording their manipulating the tape him into agreeing the criss-cross, by manipulating and splicing the tape to the point of obsessiveness, making it all too easy for the cops to discern. All this hastens to lessen the suspense as Diana basically becomes her own worst enemy before anyone else even gets a crack at it, destroying her chance at the sort of spooky credibility Robert Walker's Bruno kept almost to the bitter end. That's likely because his in-denial artsy mom and ever-disappointed tycoon dad would rather think their son is just a loafer or a delightful eccentric rather than admit to societal taboo of congenital insanity (i.e. he hasn't been violent enough in the past to be committed).
But all that's quibbling. And why do that? There's Jimmy Faggis' super cool jazzy scoring throughout-- nothing too fancy but nothing you wouldn't enjoy snapping your fingers to and feeling like a kind of post-beatnik jazzbo. And like all the best films of this period, there's a catfight between too crazy blondes armed with spearguns and a dune buggy chase along the day-for-night beach. Nothing quite tops the sight of Linley, in her cute minidress, lifting herself out from under a flipped-over dune buggy in the surf, all slow, sultry, and Venus-from-the-clamshell-like. Though you might think she's just playing a male fantasy coquette, Lynley makes the most of every gesture, the groovy bass-front-and-center jazz score races along like a down and dirty wind under her mean girl sails and she just takes off. There's no big set piece like Hitchcock's amok merry go-round, but the film makes up for that in sheer brevity. And at the end the symbolic beach ball is patched; the child neighbor looks slightly older, and, just like Guy in Strangers on a Train, Paul really does luck out, perhaps proving once and for all that straying with murderous coquettes can prove immensely profitable: at the end he gets his wife back, has a sexy memory that doubles as aversion therapy for future straying, and is destined for top prizes as his only tournament circuit competition has been left literally dead in a sand trap. Fore!
"The Partridge Family vs. Brady Bunch dichotomy provided parameters for our collective 70s pre-sexual psyche, and maybe that's partially the idea a Susan Dey archetype untethered from her prim bitch overprotective mom and ginger brother, running away with a Satan-worshipping boyfriend and winding up rabid (ala 1970's I Drink Your Blood --her first movie role) or foaming at the mouth thanks to some new STD (Shivers), chem warfare agent (The Crazies)--or just really speedy acid--rang so many popular unconscious gongs. The times demanded a girl who could slice off a woman's hand with an electric carving knife and come off as an innocent, a free spirit, cranked to eleven, a girl so pure the needle spins all the way around to the other extreme- batshit homicidal, with no stops in between. And no hysteria or hamming. If you've ever known and partied with the type then you know how rare and intoxicating they are, the sweet sudden shock of dread when what was once a feeling of smitten love and devotion to her sweet beauty becomes sickening blood-chilled dread, the realization you were so far on cloud 9 you made the mistake of letting her get between you and the exit." (more)
Hmmm I'm not trying to put any ideas into anyone's heads, but it seems to me a badass girl gang crashing a lot of different genres would be just the thing. A lot of folks have tried and they end up being the usual overwrought nonsense with one too many well-scrubbed thugs locking overly siliconed strippers in trunks, in between lugging bags of cash in and out of hotel lobbies, shots of sunglassed douchebags smirking into rearview mirrors, abusive backstory, flashy meaningless over-editing (you know the ones I'm talking about - no names) and female violence done with "this hurts me more than it does you" anguish in their eyes rather than sadistic relish. (more)
All hail Princess Dragon Mom! Arggggh! Grrr! A shape-shifting, whip-snapping, go-go boots wearing master of monsterdom! A Shaw Brothers version of Japanese Kaiju kids movie, INFRA-MAN is wisely wrought with a vicious villainess or two (Many of the Shaw Brothers' films are remarkably feminist - with badass females on both sides and in the middle of their sagas). Dragon Mom is so cool all other evil supervillains of kaiju movies pale in comparison. Sending out her spies, monsters and hypnotized sleeper agents over to Infra-Man HQ to steal away their big scientific genius for her own nefarious ends, Liu projects real menace, and a refreshingly direct approach to her evil deeds. At the same time you can see her chasing some Buggle around a Sid and Marty Kroft- style evil lair one minute, chaining Batman to a water heater after stunning him with poison lipstick the next, then blowing /herself up to Godzilla-size and becoming a dragon to level Hong Kong after that. She's versatile! And her monster minions are great too, all of them in a row, waving their appendages around in great paroxysms of relish in their own evil while she issues orders from her grand psychedelic throne.
"What really sells it all though is the aliveness of Jennings, so good as the restless morally bankrupt Rose it makes it all the sadder to realize she'd be dead in just five years --victim in an accident off the Pacific Coast Highway (at age 30). Here she finds a good match in John Martino as the mafia-dispatched goodfella "Smith" for whom she serves as combination hostage, conspirator, and lover. He should be recognizable as one of Clemenza's button men in the first Godfather. Here he brings far more wit and character than you'd expect, even earning our sympathy on occasion. Best of all, he has some great chemistry with Jennings. The pair know just how to play a kind of villainous love scene, making it always just a little ambiguous whether they're really falling in love or just playing each other for a shot at all the marbles. There's a magical scene in their motel room together in the morning after some indefinite period of late night boozy conjugal bliss: they're getting leisurely dressed and drinking tumblers of breakfast whiskey on the rocks, and we realize maybe there is no difference between acting smitten for a (criminal) purpose and being smitten for real with a criminal. Either way, we want their love or whatever to survive, despite all our best judgment." (more)