Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
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|Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!|
|Directed by||Russ Meyer|
|Produced by||Russ Meyer
|Written by||Jack Moran
|Music by||Paul Sawtell
|Edited by||Russ Meyer|
|Distributed by||RM Films International|
|Box office||$36,122 (1995 US re-release only)|
The film features gratuitous violence, sexuality, provocative gender roles, and provocative dialogue. It is one of Meyer's more boldly titled and unflinchingly exploitative films; however, there is relatively little nudity.
The film was shot in the extreme western parts of the Mojave Desert. However, some of the scenes appear to have been filmed farther east, near Baker, California. The last scenes in the film were made west of California City. The rail line running between Mojave and Trona is clearly evident.
"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to violence." The film opens with this narration over pictures of an optical audio track. The scene changes to show three go-go girls dancing to the movie's title song while men watch and shout encouragement. It cuts to the same three women driving sports cars down a desert road as the main titles are displayed. One of the cars stops, and the driver, Billie (Lori Williams), gets out and dives fully-clothed into a lake for a swim. The other two cars follow, and Varla (Tura Satana) and Rosie (Haji) emerge. Varla orders Rosie to get Billie. Rosie jumps into the lake, and she and Billie struggle in the water and on the shore until Varla breaks up the fight with the words, "You wanna prove something, chickies? Let's see who the real chicken is."
The scene changes to a dry lake bed. Varla's car faces those driven by Rosie and Billie, and they drive towards each other in a game of chicken. At the last second both Rosie and Billie veer off, avoiding collisions, while Varla drives straight ahead, laughing. The three talk, and Billie dances as a fourth car approaches. The driver, Tommy (Ray Barlow) and his bikini-clad teenage girlfriend, Linda (Susan Bernard), say that he is there to run a timing trial. Varla challenges Tommy to a race, and all four cars race around the lake bed. Varla forces Tommy off the track. Linda tries to run to his car, but she is restrained by Varla and the others. When Tommy tries to intervene, he is attacked by Varla. They fight, and Varla breaks his neck, killing him. Linda faints as Billie and Rosie move to put Tommy's body into his car, simulating an accident.
The women stop for gas and spot a muscular young man (Dennis Busch) carrying the Old Man (Stuart Lancaster) to a truck. The station attendant (Mickey Foxx) tells them that the young man is called "the Vegetable" due to being mentally deficient and that his father, the Old Man, was crippled in a railway accident, going "nuts" as a result and receiving a large settlement of money that he has hidden somewhere around his house in the desert. Varla, Rosie, and Billie exchange looks and follow the truck as it drives off.
The three women follow the truck to a homestead. Varla binds and gags Linda when she wakes and then spies through a window on the Old Man and the Vegetable. She is found there by Kirk (Paul Trinka), the Old Man's elder son, and confronted by the men. Varla relates a cover story that Linda has run away from her prominent family after the death of her boyfriend in a racing accident, and Varla and the others are taking her home. Kirk leaves for town, and the Old Man invites the women to lunch. Varla and Rosie go exploring. Billie tries to seduce the Vegetable as he lifts weights, leaving the Old Man with Linda, but the girl knocks his wheelchair over and runs away into the desert. She is found on the road by Kirk, who is driving back from town. Linda tells him that she has been kidnapped by murderers. He returns with her to the house, and she is recaptured by Varla and Rosie.
The Old Man and his sons have lunch with the three women and Linda. During the meal, Varla flirts with Kirk and then slaps Billie when she makes an incautious remark. A drunken Billie taunts Rosie that her lover, Varla, has just left with Kirk. Varla makes out with Kirk, hoping to get him to reveal the location of the money. Linda escapes the drunken Billie and runs away again into the desert. The Old Man and the Vegetable pursue in their truck. The Vegetable catches Linda but collapses in tears as Varla and Kirk arrive in her car. Kirk vows to have the Vegetable committed. He tries to take Linda back in the truck, but the Old Man says that he has thrown away the keys, and Kirk and Linda set out on foot for the town.
Varla drives back to the house and tells Billie and Rosie that they should kill the men and girl. Billie refuses, but as she walks away, Varla kills her with a thrown knife to the back. The Old Man and the Vegetable arrive. Rosie and Varla hit the Old Man with a car, killing him and knocking over his wheelchair to reveal the money hidden inside. Rosie is stabbed and killed by the Vegetable while trying to retrieve the knife from Billie's body. Varla rams the Vegetable into a wall with her car, injuring him. She drives off in the truck and chases Kirk and Linda to a valley. Varla and Kirk fight. She gets the upper hand, but Linda hits her with the truck, and she dies. Kirk and Linda drive off together in the truck as the end credits roll.
- Tura Satana as Varla
- Haji as Rosie
- Lori Williams as Billie
- Susan Bernard as Linda
- Stuart Lancaster as The Old Man
- Paul Trinka as Kirk
- Dennis Busch as The Vegetable
- Ray Barlow as Tommy
- Mickey Foxx as Gas Station Attendant
- John Furlong as Narrator
The first screenplay was titled The Leather Girls and was written over a brief four-day period by Jack Moran, who also collaborated with Meyer on Common Law Cabin and Good Morning and... Goodbye!. Although neither Moran nor Meyer overtly cited any prior works as inspiration, the plot has been called a “loose remake of The Desperate Hours, or possibly The Virgin Spring" by one prominent film critic and a “pop-art setting of Aeschylus's Eumenides” by at least one classical scholar.
The film began shooting at the Pussycat Club, a strip club in Van Nuys, before moving on to the California desert later that night. The film's early racing scene was shot on the dry salt flats of Lake Cunniback, and the scenes at the Old Man's house at Ollie Peche's Musical Wells Ranch outside the town of Mojave. During principal photography, the cast and crew stayed at the Adobe Motel in Johannesburg.
Reception and influence
Faster, Pussycat! premiered in Los Angeles on 6 August 1965. It was generally dismissed as an exploitative "skin flick" and was a box office failure upon its initial release. John L. Wasserman of the San Francisco Chronicle reviewed a double bill of Faster Pussycat! and Mudhoney in April 1966, saying that "Pussycat has the worst script ever written, and Mudhoney is the worst movie ever made."
In the years since, it has been regarded more favorably, gaining in both commercial and critical stature. As of April 2015 it holds a "fresh" rating on film review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, with 73% (nineteen of twenty-six) critic reviews positive. In his review of the 1995 re-release of the film, Pullitzer Prize-winning critic and sometime Meyer collaborator Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars. Noted feminist and lesbian film critic B. Ruby Rich says that when she first saw Faster, Pussycat! in the 1970s she "was absolutely outraged that [she'd] been forced to watch this misogynist film that objectified women and that was really just short of soft-core porn." Upon viewing it again in the early 1990s, however, she "just loved it" and wrote a piece in the Village Voice reappraising the film and discussing her change in opinion. Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! is currently number 622 on the tenth edition of the often-referenced "1,000 Greatest Films" list and 377th on the Sight & Sound "Greatest Films Poll." It is also frequently mentioned on lists of the best B movies and cult movies of all time.
The movie has also been influential on other filmmakers. Writer-director John Waters stated in his book Shock Value that "Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! is, beyond a doubt, the best movie ever made. It is possibly better than any film that will be made in the future." He later said on its re-release that "it ages like fine wine." Music video director Keir McFarlane acknowledged that a scene in the video for the Janet Jackson song "You Want This" was a direct homage to Faster, Pussycat!, showing the Porsche-driving singer and her female companions driving circles around two men in the desert. It was reported in Variety in 2008 that filmmaker Quentin Tarantino was interested in remaking the movie.
In popular culture
- American glam metal band Faster Pussycat took their name from the film.
- Audio samples from the movie are featured in four songs by metal band White Zombie on their third album, La Sexorcisto: Devil Music, Vol. 1. The dialogue "You're all shook up, aren't you, baby?" and "I never try anything, I just do it. Wanna try me?" are used in the song "Thunder Kiss '65." "You're all shook up, aren't you, baby?" is also used in the song "Cosmic Monsters, Inc." and the line "Now let's move, but let's take the back door" in the song "Welcome to Planet Motherfucker/Psychoholic Slag." Another line, "I work on this baby the same way, trying to get maximum performance," is used in "Black Sunshine."
- The title of Daniel Clowes's graphic novel Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron is taken from a line in this movie (describing the character Varla).
- The film's title song, "Faster Pussycat!" has been covered several times, most notably by American punk band the Cramps on their 1983 live mini-album Smell of Female.
- The film's over-the-top title has become iconic and is frequently referenced or played upon in other popular culture:
- The 2008 song "Funplex" by The B-52's features the lyrics "Faster pussycat, thrill thrill," an allusion to the film's title.
- In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Passion," Xander Harris encourages Buffy and the others to go after the vampire Angelus, saying "If Giles wants to go after the, uh, fiend that murdered his girlfriend, I say, 'Faster, pussycat, kill, kill.'"
- An Itchy and Scratchy short entitled "Foster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!" is shown in the Simpsons episode "Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily."
- The title of the hit 2006 single Faster Kill Pussycat by Paul Oakenfold featuring Brittany Murphy is a play on the title of the film.
- Top Ten Low Budget Films Under $500,000. Daily Film Dose. Retrieved April 1, 2013
- Box Office Information for Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! The Numbers. Retrieved April 1, 2013
- McDonough, Jimmy (2005). Big Bosoms and Square Jaws: The Biography of Russ Meyer, King of the Sex Film (1st ed. ed.). New York: Crown. p. 162-163. ISBN 1-4000-5044-8.
- Corliss, Richard (2 August 2002). "Thanks for the Mammaries". Time. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
- Solomon, Jon (2001). The Ancient World in the Cinema (Rev. and expanded ed. ed.). New Haven [u.a.]: Yale Univ. Press. p. 17. ISBN 0-300-08337-8.
- McDonough, Jimmy (2005). Big Bosoms and Square Jaws: The Biography of Russ Meyer, King of the Sex Film (1st ed. ed.). New York: Crown. p. 168-169. ISBN 1-4000-5044-8.
- McDonough, Jimmy (2005). Big Bosoms and Square Jaws: The Biography of Russ Meyer, King of the Sex Film (1st ed. ed.). New York: Crown. p. 172. ISBN 1-4000-5044-8.
- "Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!". Turner Classic Movies Database. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
- Ebert, Roger. "Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
- Willman, Chris (11 December 1994). "Return of the Ultrapussycats". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
- DeFino, Dean (2014). Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!. London: Wallflower Press. ISBN 9780231167390.
- Wasserman, John (19 April 1966). "Two Films with But One Thought". San Francisco Chronicle (41).
- Oliver, Myrna (22 September 2004). "Russ Meyer, 82; Iconic Sexploitation Filmmaker". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
- "Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
- Myers, Emma. "Profiles in Criticism: B. Ruby Rich". Criticwire. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
- Georgaris, Bill. "1,000 Greatest Films". They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?. Retrieved 6 May 2015.
- "Sight & Sound Greatest Films Poll". British Film Institute. Retrieved 6 May 2015.
- "The Top 50 Cult Movies of All Time". Entertainment Weekly (711) (Time. Inc.). 23 May 2003.
- Vorel, Jim. "The 100 Best "B Movies" of All Time". Paste. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
- Crouse, Richard (2008). Son of The 100 Best Movies You've Never Seen. Toronto: ECW Press. ISBN 9781554903306.
- Grey, Carmen. "Top ten exploitation films". Dazed. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
- Waters, John (2005). Shock Value: A Tasteful Book About Bad Taste. Philadelphia: Running Press. ISBN 978-1560256984.
- Smith, Liz (16 January 2008). "Tarantino wants to remake 'Faster Pussycat'". Variety. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
- "Tarantino's Lost Projects". We Are Movie Geeks. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
- "Faster Pussycat". Allmusic. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
- "Sample Sources". Psychoholic World of White Zombie. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
- DeFino, Dean (2014). Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!. London: Wallflower Press. p. 38. ISBN 9780231167390.
- Shiner, Lewis. "The Role of Compassion in Daniel Clowes' Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron," Sitcom (1995). Retrieved 24 April 2015.
- "One Side Wonders #11: The Bostweeds – Faster Pussycat! (1966)". Cosmic Mind at Play. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
- "Funples Lyrics". Metrolyrics. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
- "Passion: Trivia, Quotes, Notes and Allusions". TV.com. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
- DeFino, Dean (2014). Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!. London: Wallflower Press. p. 89. ISBN 9780231167390.
- "Foster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!". Simpsons Wiki. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
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- Original trailer and video clips at Turner Classic Movies
- Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! at the Internet Movie Database
- Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! at AllMovie
- Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! Fansite