Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

By David Sturm, Copyright 1996

Blessed with the greatest of all exploitation movie titles, "Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!" has made the transformation from grind house flick to cultural signifier.

This 1965 opus by director Russ Meyer, now out on video, has gotten increasing attention over the years.

Writer-director John Waters proclaimed it an American classic years ago and Michael Weldon, publisher of "Psychotronic" magazine, recently printed an exhaustive cover story about the film and its cast.

This summer it played a revival house in Manhattan to mark its 30th anniversary and various publications, from the Village Voice to the New York Times, weighed in with bemused assessments.

So, why is the $44,000 black-and-white movie about voluptuous vixens who drive sports cars around the desert and subdue men with karate chops worth all this fuss?

What is apparent from a 1995 perspective on "Faster, Pussycat!" is how contemporary its kinky, uber-woman iconography looks.

"Pussycat" star (and ex-burlesque queen) Tura Satana and her two go-go-booted cohorts--sporting bare midriffs and a yard and a half of cleavage--would look right at home on the stage of the Richard Bey or Jerry Springer shows.

One can easily imagine Madonna, Roseanne, and Susan Powter having watched this movie and taken notes.

Certainly, R. Crumb and other alternative comics artists have seen it. (Daniel Clowes has even swiped dialogue).

That is not to say "Faster, Pussycat!" has a brain in its head. Cheap and crude, it flaunts a sweaty-palmed eroticism based on snarling women and sniveling men.

The dialogue is loaded with gems like "You got yourself quite a playroom, buster. What you need is a playmate." Or, "Me Jane, you Tarzan. Let's grab a vine and swing a little."

These three spitfires are so full of beans that when there's no men around, they grab each other and rassle in the dust.

Every other shot seems at ankle level, making the women look eight feet tall in their skin-tight hiphuggers. Excruciatingly loud, cheesy jazz blares relentlessly on the soundtrack. After 83 frantic minutes and a couple of chases and murders it's over.


You Freudians out there may also be interested to note that although these pussycats do indeed Kill! Kill! they do so with bare hands and switchblades, not guns.

For all this, the movie is still quaint in a way only mid-1960s features can be.

The violence is muted, the language is relatively clean and nudity is only suggested--all proving you can have good trash without being trashy.

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