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Beyond the Valley of the Dolls

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls – 1970

This time… they’ve really gone

Russ Meyer
Roger Ebert
Russ Meyer

Red Hershon
Eve Meyer
Russ Meyer
Dolly Read – Kelly McNamara
Cynthia Myers – Casey Anderson
Marcia McBroom – Petronella Danforth
John Lazar – Ronnie ‘Z-Man’ Barzell
Michael Blodgett – Lance Rocke
David Gurian – Harris Allsworth
Edy Williams – Ashley St. Ives
Erica Gavin – Roxanne
Phyllis Davis – Susan Lake
Harrison Page – Emerson Thorne
Duncan McLeod – Porter Hall
James Inglehart – Randy Black
Charles Napier – Baxter Wolfe
Henry Rowland – Otto

Review by Gary F Taylor

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)
The Big Limberger of Cheesy Seventies Films,

BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS isn’t just a cheesy 70s movie: it is the Limburger of cheesy 70s movies–a devastatingly awful flick of such horrific proportions that it completely defies every possible expectation. For the first ten minutes I sat before the screen, slack-jawed in disbelief. Then I began to laugh. And laugh and laugh and laugh until I thought I might rupture something! The story? It’s super silly, and in general it concerns a three-girl band and their boy-toy manager who move to Los Angeles and promptly go to pot. There are drugs, sex, some really bad rock ‘n’ roll, and before the credits roll we’re even treated to a take-off (yes, I said take-off) on the notorious Sharon Tate murder and some of the most ridiculous moralizing in celluloid history.
As leader of the band, Dolly Read looks and acts like Barbie’s friend Skipper after one course of hormone treatments too many. (At times I wondered if she was Ethel Merman’s long lost daughter or a maybe just a really wacked-out Grace Slick in a red-wig disguise.) Read only has about three expressions, but she plays them really big, so you can’t miss them. Band side-kicks Cynthia Myers and Marcia McBroome have a few expressions more, but they aren’t nearly so powerfully emphatic about it, which is probably just as well.
The script is by Roger Ebert, of all people, and it tends to show that those who can do and those who can’t criticize. Even so, Ebert gets off some pretty memorable licks in terms of one-liners. (“You’re a groovy boy. I’d like to strap you on sometime” and “This is my happening and it freaks me out!” are probably the two most famous.) As for director Russ Meyer…

It’s actually difficult to tell from this seventies film if Russ Meyer is just a really bad director or a really bad director with a sense of style. My bet is on the latter: his directorial talents make me think of what might happen if Robert Altman dropped acid, and he’s very consistent about it. The camera shots are jumpy and always seem to be a couple of frames short of what you expect; the over-the-top dialogue is played even more so; and in a weird sort of way this seventies film has an aesthetic spin that can only be described as 70s pop-trash on a collision course with Theatre of the Absurd. Whatever the case, it seems pretty clear that everything on screen is intentional, if not perhaps done with any great sense of deliberation.

Now, this is NOT going to appeal to every viewer. You have to have a really warped sense of humor to get the joke–and you’re never really sure if the joke is intentional or accidental. But if you’re looking for something incredibly bizarre… Oooo-weeeeeeee, baby!

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)

Review by Wayne Malin

So bad it’s good!,
I think some people have seen too much into this movie–a satire???? Come on people! It’s a RUSS MEYER film! They were made to show tons of young, beautiful, big-breasted girls and that’s about it. According to Erica Gavin (who gives the one good performance in the film), Meyer filmed this dead seriously–he actually thought he was making an insightful expose on rock music! What he made is a camp classic–it contains some of the worst dialogue ever uttered…but it’s never boring, is always moving and has some surprisingly good songs. Also the direction is uproarious. Note the times when the band is playing who’s popping up on either side of the screen–talk about clich├ęd!

The acting (with the exception of Gavin) is pretty bad, but it fits the silly dialogue perfectly. Tons of female nudity, no male nudity and a sudden swing into bloody, disgusting violence at the end. Still, it’s a laugh a minute…especially it you see it with an audience. A definite must see! A 10 from me! See it letter-boxed–the pan and scan version is unwatchable.

This originally had an X rating–when it was released on video in the mid 90s, Warner Bros tried to lower it to an R–but couldn’t. The ratings board said one sequence was too explicit–a long, beautiful lesbian sex scene which SHOWS NOTHING except the girls kissing!!!! To Warner Bros credit, they didn’t cut it and just released it with an NC-17. Don’t be fooled–it’s an R rating all the way.

“This is my happening and it freaks me out!”

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70s Films

A tour through the great and not so great films of the seventies The seventies saw a huge change in styles and genres from the advent of the slasher horror movies like Halloween and the blockbuster summers films started by Jaws. More...

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