MEYER MONTH – M(e)y(er) First Time

14 Mar

Michael Ewins remembers the first time he caught one of Russ Meyer’s films…

Not to be confused with Pixar’s 2009 family adventure, Russ Meyer’s Up! (1976) is one of the most brazenly excessive (s)exploitation flicks of the 1970’s – a raunch-stuffed smorgasbord of fairytale tropes and volcanic cleavage, featuring B-movie starlets Raven De La Croix (dubbed a “doe-eyed fucking machine“) and Kitten Natividad.

 My first Meyer experience, Up! captured me in its opening moments with an unforgettable ménage à quad (yes, that’s a thing) which involves, well… a homo-sado-orient tryst with ze Führer himself, Adolf Hitler (“that fag“). My eyes expanded – exploded, even – upon the sight of the world’s evilest moustache/combover combo being deep throated by a hunk in a gimp mask, but that’s not even the weirdest thing about this sequence. Shortly afterward Hitler (cannily re-named Schwartz) slinks out of his purple robe and dips into a warm bubble bath, only to be snuffed out by a voluptuous assassin who launches a piranha into his nether-regions. Cinema was never the same again. Heck, neither was life.

 What really struck me about the film, and still strikes me on re-watches, is Meyer’s complete sense of anarchy, fusing rock’n’roll, pop art, cockamamie plotting and softcore pornography to create one awesome sensory experience. One scene finds dopey Sheriff Homer (Monty Bane), who pronounces karate cur-a-tee, electrocuting Pocohontas (Foxy Lae) mid-romp, and later Hitler’s killer is exposed in a buck-naked, cross-country dildo duel. Yeah, I actually typed that. Moreover, somebody put it on film.

 There’s plenty of risqué material – rape, incest, Nazi’s – but what really encouraged me to watch more Meyer was his wit, invention and complete disregard for authority. I mean, the guy even manages to work a Psycho (Hitchcock, 1960) reference in here! Up! was one of those films which really changed the way I looked at films. For most people that’s Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941) – and sure, it’s brilliant – but I just figured that if somebody can make this, and get away with it, then film as a storytelling medium is endless in its possibilities. It’s certainly the most fun you can have without taking your clothes off…

Michael Ewins is a freelance journalist and writer contributing to Media Magazine, New Empress Magazine and Flickfeast. He can be found over at his film blog E-Film Blog.

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