Review: Supervixens

[Originally published in Movietone News 42, July 1975]

My experience of Russ Meyer films has been less than encyclopedic (Finders Keepers Lovers Weepers, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, The Seven Minutes), so I can’t state authoritatively just what breakthroughs SuperVixens may represent in his oeuvre. Complete frontal nudity was not featured in the others I saw, and I believe the man himself has cited this as the first instance of male frontal nudity, at any rate. It’s still softcore, although back in the groove resolutely enough to warrant an X-rating (Richard Corliss opined in print that the MPAA had ruled The Seven Minutes R instead of PG so as not to embarrass Meyer before his old fans). And it’s still the most energetic sex filmmaking, qua filmmaking, around: 2,800 setups, Meyer told an SFS preview audience, and they do go blazing past, so frenetically, and some of them downright dynamically, that anybody with camera- and cutting-sense is going to have a hard—make that a difficult—time keeping his mind on the ostensible subject.

The real subject, with Meyer as with any other filmmaker worthy of the name, is the director himself, and SuperVixens is the most savage Meyer I’ve run across, not excluding the horrific shoot-up and cut-up at the climax of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls: there was surely more gore there, but not the concentrated viciousness that distinguishes the two big action (i.e., action-action) sequences here. Meyer spoke of having “got some stuff out of my system” in making this film; that it’s better out of his system is not in doubt—what it will say to sectors of the audience seems cause for alarm. Shari Eubank takes a dual role as (Super)Angel, the hero’s ball-breaking wife, and SuperVixen, the walking wet dream he eventually meets on the run. He’s on the run because someone beat, stabbed, stomped, electrocuted, and burned his wife to death and everyone except his faithful employer Martin Bormann (Henry Rowland again) believes he did it. Eubank as SuperVixen is subsequently menaced by the same murderous wildman—an impotent cop named Harry Sledge who likes to wear a green beret, slide his cigar in and out, and fondle his nightstick. If Meyer seems out to avenge himself on the whole uberous feminine gender (at one point Sledge plants a stick of dynamite between Vixen’s thighs), he doesn’t have much to say in behalf of anyone else. If someone goes in a bar for a drink, somebody else jacks up his truck and makes off with his tires; if a lawman can’t catch the vehicle he’s pursuing before it crosses the county line, he arrests the driver of the car he himself is riding in for breaking all the speed laws during the chase. Meyer is entitled to his world-view, natch, and there’s no denying he expresses it with force—and here and there, with wit and cinematic originality. Still, even for a viewer disposed to indulge one of the cinema’s … primitives is the word, I believe … SuperVixens is pretty hard to take.

RTJ

SUPERVIXENS
Screenplay, direction, cinematography, editing, and production: Russ Meyer.
The players: Shari Eubank, Charles Napier, Uschi Digard, Charles Pitt, Henry Rowland.

Copyright © 1975 Richard T. Jameson