Following his contract with 20th Century Fox (which spawned an instant classic, BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, and a dramatic snoozer, THE SEVEN MINUTES) and an independent film shot in the Caribbean, BLACKSNAKE!, Russ Meyer decided to return to independent filmmaking and create the ultimate Meyer film! SUPERVIXENS surely fits the bill as the pinnacle of Meyer's talents as a filmmaker, a screenwriter and a sexploitation maestro.
Poor put-upon gas station attendant Clint Ramsey has had enough of his bitchy girlfriend SuperAngel's cock-teasing ways, so ditches her ass after a domestic disturbance which leaves him with a shiner and a broken heart. SuperAngel latches onto Harry Sledge, the policeman who "saved" her from Clint's violent temper, but gives him the riot act when he remains limp before they knock boots. Her nasty insults bring out the murderous rage in Harry which leaves SuperAngel dead and Clint the likely suspect! He skips town to escape his past and encounters one bountiful bosomy beauty after another before settling down with SuperVixen, the girl of his dreams. But his past will come back to haunt him one more time...with a vengeance!
Looking back at the wild career he had enjoyed so far, Russ Meyer obviously had a ball writing SUPERVIXENS! Actors from his previous films show up (John Lazar and Henry Rowland from BVD, Garth Pillsbury from VIXEN, Haji and Stuart Lancaster from FASTER PUSSYCAT among others), and characters from his epics are revitalized for 1975 (SuperLorna from LORNA, SuperEula from MUDHONEY, SuperSoul, SuperCherry and Harry Sledge from CHERRY HARRY & RAQUEL, SuperAngel from GOOD MORNING...AND GOODBYE!, SuperVixen from VIXEN), and familiar pieces of dialogue and setpieces (the poison sucking scene in MOTOR PSYCHO!, most importantly) are recycled to make this the ultimate Russ Meyer scrapbook in celluloid form! His rapid fire editing is all the more crazed and desperate to never stay on one shot for more than three seconds. When I showed the opening gas station sequence during a film class focusing on editing, the audience was left screaming for more after that short segment. After some of the shocking violence in his previous films, it should come as no surprise the film mixes sex and violence well. However, the one scene which stands out as the most repulsive of Meyer's filmography is SuperAngel's vicious bathtub murder, which just as you think it can't get any more graphic, does! Another amusing theme begins here and progresses through Meyer's remaining films: the 12-inch male penis appendages which he attaches to every male cast member!
When Russ Meyer writes a film where all the women feature the word "Super" before their name, you know that he plans to satisfy the breast fetishist in us all. And all six women in SUPERVIXENS are Super indeed! The film begins with Christy Hartburg, an incredible one-shot wonder with black pig-tailed hair and a bod which threatens to burst from her teeny shirt and impossibly short short-shorts. Hartburg disappeared after her brief appearance in the film and though she was the poster girl for SUPERVIXENS, was an anonymous Meyer girl until a few years ago when she introduced her own website, www.christyhartburg.net. The site mysteriously disappeared shortly thereafter, but not before letting fans see that Hartburg still looks as statuesque as she did in 1975. Wherever Hartburg is today, she left an incredible impression with her barely 5minute role as SuperLorna.
The most talented female cast member of SUPERVIXENS (and maybe the most talented Meyer vixen EVER) is Shari Eubank, the lady with a figure to die for who pulls off her dual role with panache and humor. She's a nasty vicious bitch as SuperAngel, and is always captivating while she either chews the men in her life to pieces, becomes teary-eyed and frantic to escape from her impending doom, then stupidly laughs and mocks the death coming through the door at her. According to the various cast and crew members, SuperAngel was based on then-current Meyer paramour Edy Williams, who would actually yell exact lines from the film at Meyer during their quarrels. The axe attack on Clint's red truck and Clint threatening to punch out SuperAngel if she says one more word about his mother directly mirrored actual incidents between the mismatched couple. In fact, Williams was to play SuperVixen but pulled the starlet routine and refused to work in the primitive conditions of Meyer's independent productions. Thankfully Eubank was given the role, because it's made all that much easier to see her genuine acting talents in two such different characters. SuperVixen is a friendly, all-smiles love interest who transforms into a screaming damsel-in-distress...but Eubank injects a welcome sense of tongue-in-cheek humor during the insane finale filled with dynamite, screaming and violence. Hailing from Farmer City, Illinois, Eubank made one other film, CHESTY ANDERSON USN, a PG-rated obscurity which doesn't use her charms too well (it also starred a number of other cult icons, including Dyanne Thorne, Rosanne Katon, Timothy Carey, Nancy Lee Noble, Marcie Barkin, Fred Willard, Scatman Crothers, Uschi Digard and Connie Hoffman!). One figures that Eubank was, like so many genuinely talented Meyer women, given the "casting couch" treatment in Hollywood simply because she was associated with the director. It was the industry's loss; Eubank should have been a regular guest star on 70s TV shows, appeared in more demanding big-studio roles, and even more importantly, Meyer should have used her talents in other films. But Eubank, whose father apparently did not approve of her frequent nudity in the film, returned to the small town she called home and never looked back. She declined or ignored Jimmy McDonough's request to be interviewed for his Russ Meyer bio, so despite the fact that she's easy to find, she is apparently NOT receptive to reminders of her two films shot in her youth. The fact that she's a substitute teacher now may have something to do with it, too. Shari, you're sorely missed from the screen today.
In her fifth Russ Meyer film, Haji returns as SuperHaji, but is given precious little to do. With flowing red hair and her body covered in gorgeous gemstones and (including rubies, a throwback to her MOTOR PSYCHO! role as Ruby), Haji doesn't do much except give Clint a few drinks and deny his alibi at the time of SuperAngel's murder. This would be her last appearance in a Meyer film and it's not a very good send-off to one of his earliest and best actresses.
Another red-headed beauty, Sharon Kelly, has a much bigger and funnier role as SuperCherry, driven around by her violent boyfriend Cal (John Lazar in a big departure from "Superwoman" in BVD). Kelly had been a drive-in staple for five years by the time she appeared in SUPERVIXENS. Noted for her bountiful bust, sexually insatiable performances, and lovable big-toothed smile, for Kelly to appear in a Russ Meyer film was the equivalent of receiving a massive mammary Oscar! Kelly would become a regular in the films of Harry Novak, the infamous owner of Box Office International who reportedly also took advantage of sexual favors from her and loaned her out to potential business partners! She wowed drive-in audiences and pushed the limits of softcore in Novak classics like THE DIRTY MIND OF YOUNG SALLY, TEENAGE BRIDE, SASSY SUE, and A SCREAM IN THE STREETS, and is well-remembered from her starring role in ALICE GOODBODY and cameos in ILSA HAREM KEEPER OF THE OIL SHEIKS, SHAMPOO and HUSTLE. By the end of the 70s, Kelly had disappeared from the screen, but would soon return in another incarnation: Colleen Brennan, a middle-aged redhead who would steam up hardcore films for four years. It always caused Meyer (and Napier) great heartache to know one of "his girls" would stoop to porno. Perhaps if Kelly had stayed out of the X-rated industry, she would still be visible today. Instead, she is impossible to find and despite being one of the better actresses to come out of Novak's stables, will probably remain a mystery unless she is enticed out of hiding.
How does one discuss Uschi? Busty, tan, always smiling, and an endearing on-screen personality, Uschi appeared in so many films of the 60s and 70s that she is only rivaled by Rene Bond in screen credits! She began, oddly enough, in mainstream, with a cameo in I LOVE YOU ALICE B. TOKLAS! with Peter Sellers. She would do other bits in Hollywood flicks like THE KILLER ELITE, FUZZ and KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE, and after supporting parts in Cresse's THE SCAVENGERS and a handful of other productions and taking the men’s magazine scene by storm, Uschi made her Meyer debut as the best thing about CHERRY, HARRY & RAQUEL!. A silent role in footage added to pad out the picture, she is still the only really memorable aspect of that lesser Meyer movie. From 1969, Uschi didn't stop working and encountered just about every major producer and director of the sexploitation scene. She even worked in hardcore productions (only in soft scenes)! Everyone who worked with Uschi loved her, a rarity in the sexploitation industry, and it's no surprise that she kept many of her co-workers as close friends for many years. Uschi worked with Russ behind-the-scenes more frequently than she did on-camera, acting as associate producer on Meyer's last two films, UP! and BENEATH THE VALLEY OF THE ULTRA-VIXENS, before he worked her last nerve and she stormed out of his life for a spell (as he forced many of his friends to do around this time). Before that, she had maybe her all-time best role as SuperSoul, Stuart Lancaster's Austrian mail-order bride who fucks him all over Lancaster's farm (with loud exaggerated panting and in ludicrous positions!), then sets her eyes on Charles Pitts. You get to hear Uschi speak in German here (one of the multitude of languages she speaks fluently) and her knack for comedy is undeniable; she also plays a nude telephone operator who speaks in Dutch! Another no-show in Jimmy McDonough's Meyer tome, Uschi has apparently disappeared. Though she was a public figure on the Internet back in the late 90s, selling autographed photos from her own website, the page promptly disappeared a few years later and none of her co-stars, directors or close friends have been able to find her! Wherever Uschi is, I hope she's living well and is happy and content, because she doubtlessly deserves it.
The last of the six incredible VIXENS is Deborah McGuire, who has also done a disappearing act on her fans. McGuire actually shared a sex scene with Uschi in Novak's THE GODSON, in one of her few other film appearances. A Novak pick-up, THE DEVIL'S GARDEN, a brief cameo in BLACK STARLET and a role in the softcore-turned-hardcore-via-inserts FEMALE CHAUVINISTS are her only other screen credits. Little is known about this ebony goddess except that she was married to comedian Richard Pryor for two years, spawning a child. Perhaps Pryor knows where she is, but until someone asks him, McGuire is the most mysterious of the VIXENS. She has only one line of dialogue, and it's a real corker, leaving her to flash a lot of beautiful smiles at Charles Pitts and go-go dance in a tiny bikini to the tunes of a transistor radio. The scene of her having a sign language argument with her father is a riot!
Charles Napier, who began with Russ as Harry in CHERRY HARRY & RAQUEL! (the only surviving film featuring square-jawed Napier in a nude scene!) and had a bit part in BVD, was called upon again to reprise his role of Harry Sledge. Not only does he give the performance of his career, he also associate produced the film! Napier is introduced as a fist-swinging policeman who has a way with the ladies, but once he is revealed as being impotent, he turns on a dime and becomes a psychopathic villain! He is the real male lead of the film; Charles Pitts, while obviously not shy about the nudity required for the part, is never likable or interesting enough for the audience to care for. Pitts and Meyer did not get along during shooting, and it shows the way his character is so terribly written. Like Tura Satana's "Varla" in FASTER PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL!, Charles Napier's "Harry Sledge" is a villain you root for, even after the grisly demise of SuperAngel! Napier credits SUPERVIXENS as the film which really kickstarted his stalled career, leading him to audition for Alfred Hitchcock and also the money from the film helped get him back on his feet. He recently appeared on "Dr. Phil," depressed that his career was once again stalled. I don't think Stuart Lancaster has ever given a lackluster performance in any film, and this is one of his funniest. The good-hearted farmer emerges to be a sexually active horndog, and has no shame, screwing Uschi right in front of Pitts! Be sure to watch for Meyer himself cameoing as the manager of the Green Gables Motel!
Another mediocre transfer appears on this SUPERVIXENS DVD. It looks the same as the region 1 disc except for that damn jittering during any motion on-screen. The mono audio is not as strong as the previous Arrow DVD's, but it does the job nicely. This is another film with few quiet moments, with the incredibly diverse library music never ending and the dialogue keeps on coming from the very game cast.
Because there are no surviving or easy-to-find cast members from SUPERVIXENS (I would have given anything to hear Shari Eubank discuss this film, or an Uschi career retrospective), the only major extra is the laserdisc commentary by Russ Meyer which is thankfully preserved for his fans to enjoy! Meyer reveals his fascination with Henry Rowland (who played 'Martin Bormann'), his difficulties with Edy Williams, Shari Eubank's background and hard work ethic, admires Charles Napier's look and performance, discusses Napier's career taking off after the film's release, Charles Pitts causing problems on the set with his perpetual horniness (!), shooting the hyperviolent SuperAngel death scene in the home of a friend, working with John Lazar again, memories of the incredible Uschi (he also says she lived close to his home and worked as a jewelry dealer for the Rockefellers at the time of the commentary!), shooting Stuart Lancaster's nude sex scenes, and the success of the film's release, among other tantalizing tales of the production. There are of course moments of on-screen narration and dead space, but a lot of these stories are really fantastic and it's worth having the thoughts of the late great Meyer on record! He does neglect to discuss Christy Hartburg, Haji, Sharon Kelly, or Deborah McGuire.
The Russ Meyer trailer reels pops in, with previews for FASTER PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL!, BLACKSNAKE!, MUDHONEY, VIXEN, WILD GALS OF THE NAKED WEST, SUPERVIXENS, BENEATH THE VALLEY OF THE ULTRA-VIXENS, CHERRY HARRY & RAQUEL!, and COMMON LAW CABIN. (Casey Scott)
Special thanks to Kit Gavin for the screen grabs
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