Sunday, 31 July 2016

The Meyer Files #18: Beneath The Valley Of The Ultravixens (1979)

After an extended hiatus, The Midnight Ramble returns with the grand finale of The Meyer Files!

Completed in 1977,  Meyer did not finish his final epic for two years owing to another project which attracted his attention:

Meyer and Roger Ebert were hired to create a movie for the Sex Pistols. A marriage made in hell, the project collapsed after Meyer shot the first scene. Disgruntled, he returned home to complete and release his last theatrical feature.

While it is not great, Beneath The Valley Of The Ultravixens is a modest rebound from Up!, and marks a return to the optimism of his 60s heyday, with the emphasis once again on the restorative powers of sex, rather than the death and destruction that overwhelmed his last couple of films.

Following her role as the nude narrator in Up!, Meyer's on-off girlfriend Kitten Nattivad was promoted to be the last of his pneumatic stars.

From the beginning, we are back on familiar territory. After the ultra-violence and anger of Up!, it is a blessed relief.

The movie opens with a reprise of the Nazi martial music from Supervixens! We cut inside a mansion where ex-Nazi Martin Bormann (Henry Rowland, reprising his role from previous Meyer epics) gets into a coffin, covers himself with a sheet with holes for his eyes and watches a large breasted woman dance until his kettle boils. As this odd couple get down, Meyer hard cuts to the man who will be our guide through this final Meyerpiece: Stuart Lancaster.

I've already gone into why Lancaster is one of Meyer's best players, and his presence here re-affirms his talents for bland understatement in the face of all the zany rubbish Meyer throws at the screen.

Our 'hero' is Lamar Shedd (Ken Kerr), who, like most of Meyer's protagonists, has a sexual problem that throws the world around him out of whack.

There's not much more than that -- like Spuervixens!, Lamar's search for his libido leads him through a series of encounters with the latest collection of Meyer's buxotics -- including a return appearance from Uschi Digard as SuperSoul, whose outsized jaw remains as unsettling as ever.

There's a couple of subplots involving a gay dentist (who bleeds pink) and a pneumatic radio evangelist, but nothing really standout story-wise.

Here, as with most Meyer flicks, the focus is on the technical elements -- particularly editing and sound design, which are as sharp as ever. You just wish he'd found a new subject to focus on.

There are some odd technical things -- Nattivad appears to have been partially dubbed by an actress with a completely different accent; all the diegetic sound is exaggerated to a ridiculous extreme, and there are odd comic touches which don't come off (a black character bleeds white?!?, a 14-year-old boy is played by a 27-year-old man).

Apart from Nattivad, who plays her role like the Ultimate Warrior after a steroidal binge, the rest of the Meyer women aren't as barnstorming as in previous movies.

The movie does end with a nice cameo from Meyer himself as he packs up his camera and prepares to head home. It's almost like he knew the end was nigh.

And so we reach the end. To be honest, Meyer's career really ended with Supervixens. Everything afterwards feels like an echo of past glories. 

By 2000, Meyer was in the advanced stages of the dementia which slowly claimed him. By the end, he was just a shadow of his former self.

The boxset I own includes Pandora Peaks, the final Meyer project from 2000. It is a DTV movie that Meyer somehow felt was worthy of release. There is not a lot to say about this movie. It's bad.

Well, I hope you got something out of these reviews. It gave me an excuse to finish the box set, and get a broader sense of Meyer's talents as a filmmaker. There were some fun movies I'd never seen, and a few that are some of the worst POS I've ever endured.

For previous entries...

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

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