Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

Dean DeFino
Series: Cultographies
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 144
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/defi16739
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  • Book Info
    Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
    Book Description:

    Russ Meyer'sFaster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!(1965) is an enigma. A box-office failure when initially released on the grindhouse circuit, it has since been embraced by art-house audiences, and referenced in countless films, television series, and songs. A riot of styles and story clichés lifted from biker, juvenile delinquency, and beach party movies, it has the coherence of a dream, and the improvisatory daring of a jazz solo. John Waters has called it the greatest movie ever made, and Quentin Tarantino has long promised to remake it. But what draws them, and so many other cult fans to Pussycat? To help answer that question, this book looks at the production and critical reception of the film, its place within the cultural history of the 1960s, its representations of gender and sexuality, and the specific ways it meets the criteria of a cult film.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-85054-4
    Subjects: Film Studies, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION: RUSS MEYER AND ME
    (pp. 1-12)

    Not long ago, I had the opportunity to hear David Lynch speak to a motley assembly of earnest young art geeks, alt-rock poseurs and merlot-sipping baby boomers, all asking versions of the same questions Lynch must have suffered hundreds of times before: Who is your favorite surrealist? How can you create such dark worlds and still remain detached from them? Didn’t I see you standing on a sidewalk in Queens eight years ago? Listening to Mr. Lynch’s patient responses, I wondered where I fitted into this crowd, and while waiting dutifully in line after the talk for a handshake with...

  5. 1 THE PUSSYCATS GEAR UP
    (pp. 13-27)

    Much like our discovery of them, cult films seem simply to emerge as the unforeseen result of rarefied conditions and happy accidents. Idiosyncratic, transgressive and more often than not made under singular circumstances, they should probably not find an audience at all, but each charts its own serpentine path to cult success. In the age of the DVD commentary track, even the casual viewer may be exposed to key facts about a film’s origins, but for the cult fan the act of retracing that serpentine path is a pilgrim’s progress, a ritual sanctification. At first glance,Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!...

  6. 2 THE PUSSYCATS FIND THEIR AUDIENCE
    (pp. 28-40)

    For a guy who got rich by making so-called dirty movies, Russ Meyer has received a remarkable amount of positive critical attention, including comparisons to Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Federico Fellini and Jacques Tati, as well as literary figures from Geoffrey Chaucer and Francois Rabelais to Thorton Wilder and John Steinbeck. While many continue to see him as a misogynistic sexual Neanderthal, others have called him a twentieth-century Sade, a Mennipean satirist and a Romantic ironist.⁶ His fans have included such luminaries as Leslie Fieldler, Camille Paglia and Rainer Werner Fassbinder. His 1960s melodramas about insatiable women on the prowl...

  7. 3 SEEING AMERICA FIRST
    (pp. 41-59)

    The year 1965 began with the arrival of the first 3,500 American combat troops in Vietnam and ended with nearly 200,000 in the field. That same year, the Students for a Democratic Society organised the first teach-ins and draft card burnings, hundreds of thousands attended anti-war rallies, and pacifists Roger Allen LaPorte and Norman R. Morrison set themselves on fire to protest the war. Only months after Martin Luther King received the Nobel Peace Prize, Malcolm X was assassinated, Alabama State Troopers brutalised civil rights demonstrators on ‘Bloody Sunday’ and five days after President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act,...

  8. 4 PUSSYCATS AND SATYRS
    (pp. 60-84)

    Little more than halfway throughFaster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, Russ Meyer serves lunch: a simple, rustic meal of fried chicken and corn on the cob, but one consumed with more surreal gusto than any dreamed up by Luis Bunuel or Peter Greenaway.¹⁶ It begins as a sort of celebration, for Varla and the Old Man at least, who broker a tenuous peace after dogooder Kirk inadvertently thwarts Linda’s attempt to escape her captors. The Old Man swigs a bottle of Cutty Sark and Varla nibbles seductively on an ear of corn while they trade double entendres over the head of...

  9. 5 A VELVET GLOVE CAST IN IRON
    (pp. 85-98)

    By the time Russ Meyer died in 2004, his movie empire was nearly in ruins. Having suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for the better part of a decade, he had come to rely exclusively upon a small group of assistants who knew little about his work, and who seemed only interested in insulating him from the rest of the world. Though the films themselves were still in excellent shape (Meyer had always taken scrupulous care in preserving them), video releases from the late 1990s onward were increasingly haphazard and sloppy. No efforts had been made to re-master the degraded video transfers...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 99-101)
  11. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 102-104)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 105-110)