Review by Rumsey Taylor
Posted on 03 August 2004
Source RM Films VHS
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Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! opens with a virtuosic montage of go-go dancing women, narrated in a voice that expresses warning for the violence manifested beneath these iconic images of attraction:
While violence cloaks itself in a plethora of disguises, its favorite mantle still remains: sex.
There must be dozens upon dozens of films that equate, either explicitly or figuratively, violence with sex. Russ Meyer’s Pussycat! combines them without any pretense whatsoever. The sex is intended to arouse, the violence to excite, and the combination of the two is completely dynamic, enabling Faster Pussycat’s status as an absolute masterpiece of subversion.
The film centers on three voluptuous women, Varla, Rosie, and Billie, whose chain of authority is represented in a hierarchy of cup size, equipped with fashionable attire and sports cars, en route across a Nevada desert to torment anyone they may come upon. It is a scenario designed so that women supply the sexist comments and threats, and men are discriminated — their flaw is that they are attracted to these threatening women, whose “assets” draw the moth to the flame.
Their first victim is a competitively spirited male, whom they find in the middle of a desert. They agree to a car race, and the male’s girlfriend will referee. Metaphorically, the race measures sexual performance, and, of course, the male is first exhausted. Victorious and again (or forever) unabated, the women kill the male, and keep his surviving girlfriend for no apparent reason, other than to entertain what violent whims they may later incur.
Were it not for its extraordinarily suggestive dialogue, the film would earn a PG rating. Most everything spoken in this film has some sort of second-meaning; most every line is like an in-joke you may not get, but assume stands for something quite unruly. The entire film thrives on subtext. A recommendation I would make with most Meyer films is to listen to them—in most every case, the dialogue visualizes a much more explicit film. This interposing between what is implied and what is seen is Meyer’s paramount filmmaking strength, and is exhibited best in this film.
The most ironic facet of this film is its feminist sensibility. The most eligible male in the film has the fewest lines of dialogue. He is anonymously attractive, hastily established, and deprived of a distinguishing identity. These traits are traditionally allotted to female characters.
If Faster Pussycat! is interpreted literally, it serves as a cautionary warning for the violence inherent in all women — “One,” the worried narrator states, “might be your secretary.– It succeeds not on this term, but as a testament of female empowerment, and is grounded firmly in an era in which sexual fantasy in film was a means of liberation. The male characters are deprived the experience of satisfying the women, and the viewer is treated summarily: after having earned a reputation as a pornographer, Meyer denies the audience a glimpse of nudity in this, his seminal film.