Sunday, May 01, 2005

The Re-release Russ Meyer's SuperVixens

Super Vixens Recently re-released on DVD Region 2 PAL with a whole host of features, I recently bought this DVD from a buyer on Ebay (yes I live in the US but have a region-free, code-free JVC DVD player). "Supervixens" has long been my favorite Meyer movie, due to its 1970s, rural sensibilities. And after listening to Meyer's commentary on this DVD (repurposed from the early 90s laser disc edition of same movie), my love for this movie is renewed.

I have finally figured out why I love this movie as much as I do. For the longest time I thought it was just due to the crush/lust I had for Shari Eubank, the female lead. While that hasn't diminished, I've realized more than anything that Meyer was his generation's Robert Rodriguez (Desperado, El Mariachi, Sin City). On the commentary accompanying this DVD, Meyer tells of how his approach to most of his films was to get his band of crew members together (totalling 5 men), head off to the Arizona desert, and shoot the story du jour. They shot with found locations, props lying on the side of the road, and used whatever wardrobe was lying around. Most of his money was spent on cast and feeding and lodging them for the 2 week shoots. Even then, Meyer wasn't one to spend liberally. He produced, directed, shot, and edited his films. He personally bankrolled all his films. This DVD re-release is worth every penny just for the commentary alone.

Too, I was reminded of the powerful, screen presence of Charles Napier. When Charles was cast as Sheriff Harry Sledge in this movie, he was literally living out of his car. But this movie of Meyer's changed all of that. Meyer mentions on his commentary that once Napier began to get movie offers due to his newfound "agent", Napier would invite Meyer to shindig parties and yet avoid him, diss him in front of the "socially acceptable" elitists. It's a shame that Napier, for whatever reason, chose not to glorify in his Meyer heritage. If you ever wonder about the capability of Charles Napier's screen presence, or about his abilities as an actor, simply watch the final act of this movie. As Sheriff Harry Sledge, Napier's star-caliber performance atop the phallic rock structures in the desert is a performance of the ages. It speaks volumes as it was really just Charles competing against himself on screen. The heroine is tied up, the hero is bloddy and frail, and Napier just....well...he just performs marvellously. You have to see it.

I was hoping to find out more about my lust poodle Shari Eubank. Aside from her having a degree in Drama, very little information was offered on her.

Trailers - There are nine on this DVD: Faster Pussycat. Kill! Kill!, Blacksnake, Vixen, Common Law Cabin, Naked Girls of the Wild West, Mudhoney, Supervixens, and Beneath The Valley of the Ultravixens.

It was bittersweet watching this and listening to Meyer's commentary. Having passed in October 2004, Meyer holds strong memories for this movie. For the most part, "Supervixens" was his swan song. Back in the day when ticket prices for movies were only $1.50, Meyer's "Supervixens" grossed over $18 million. After this movie was released, 1975, theaters moved to the malls. Meyer was shut out due to the fact that while his films were never sexually explicit, they still received an "X" rating during the 1970s. That said, mall operators prohibited adult movies, and those classified as adult, to play in their megaplexes. Unable to continue to innovate, for what ever reason, Meyer simply nodded his hat, and rode off into the sunset. It's his feelings of this that come through in his voice and in the memories he decides to tell.

Overall, Arrow Films kept their costs down by not retransferring the negative (scratches are visible and the transfer appears unsupervised). By what the fuck do I care? I'm listening to Russ Meyer's recollections regarding the production of this movie.

Extra bonus for me: I finally learned how to pronounce Uschi Digart.

Get this DVD and learn for yourself.


Blogger rolywholyover said...

Found your blog searching for "Supervixens." Yes, it is the greatest film of all time. I wish I had the commentary version of the disc, instead I've got the RM films version with no extras. But it looks sharp.

I could practically quote the entire script.

Although my personal favorite is SuperLorna (Christy Hartburg). That opening scene represents her sole 10 minutes on film, what a shame that we never got to see more of her...

So, how is Uschi Digart pronounced?

2:41 PM  

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