Thursday, 21 January 2016

The Meyer Files #7: Motorpsycho (1965)

This movie is basically a dry run for Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! Ironically, while it is the lesser film, on release it was a bigger hit.

The plot is extremely simple. A gang of psychotic bikers ride into a small desert town and proceed to go on a random rampage of rape and murder. After his wife is assaulted by the gang, an amiable vet tears off into the desert after the murderous trio...

Motorpsycho sees a further refinement of the Meyer aesthetic. The black and white photography is sharp, the editing is up to Meyer's usual standard and the performances are surprisingly solid -- however, the script is a dud. A simple action drama, it relies on too many cliches and lacks the crazy characters and comic repartee of Meyer's best work.

Even though there is more of a story here, there is a mean spiritedness to Motorpsycho which makes it kind of hard to watch. There is a line of misogyny to the movie which is really ugly. Usually, Meyer blunts the rough edges with humour and a willingness to take swings at his male character's macho posturing, but that equal opportunism is not on display here -- women are just sex objects and victims, reasons for men to turn into animals.

Not that it is all bad. As soon as Haji appears, the movie becomes re-energized. An exotic dancer by trade, she brings a fiery intensity to her role which belies her lack of experience. Her accent is hard to place, yet somehow she is the most relatable character in the movie.

Soon to be a member of Meyer's stock company, Haji is one of Meyer's most memorable characters, and Motorspsycho is one of her best showcases.

Overall, Motorpsycho is just okay. It's not as bad as the early movies (although the cynical tone is hard to take), but it just feels like a first draft sketch of a better movie. Clearly, Meyer felt something along the same lines. After its release, he would begin work on a similar movie featuring another evil gang. While it would fail to repeat Motorpsycho's box office, it would wind up being the movie that helped Russ Meyer achieve cinematic immortality...

Russ Meyer (and Tura Satana) will return in Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

For previous entries...

The Meyer Files #1: The Immoral Mr. Teas (1959)

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