“Hmm, Rosebud! I’ll get to the bottom of this yet!, 6 March 2008
Author: JackGattanella from United States
Russ Meyer makes his films, when they’re at their best or most brilliantly deranged, like the dream of some sexually charged sixteen year old who’s seen his share of pornos and 70′s era exploitation films. They’re crazy visions of women with (usually) nothing lower than 36-C cups, men with third legs (wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more), and enough fornication to blow the head gasket of any puritan viewer. That being said, Meyer isn’t exactly a real porno director. He makes sex films in the same way that Robert Rodriguez makes wild action or horror or kids films: as a do-it-yourself-auteur (i.e. writes, directs, produces, edits, DP’s, even camera operates), he’s all about getting a pulpy sensibility of what would otherwise be typical trashy material. Meyer also is gifted with a wonderfully cringe-worthy sense of humor. To give just a brief example- and maybe as one of the quintessential scenes in any exploitation flick- the scene where two completely naked women, one Eva Braun Jr with a knife and screaming maniacally about the fall of Nazism and the plight of his ‘father’, run after one another trying to kill each other in the woods.
So Up! is in another in a whole body of works where Meyer turns the conventions of the usual in movie-making, like a kooky member of National Lampoon, but at the same time I’m not sure it’s one of his very best. It’s a little scatter-shot in the story, if there is one closely to even follow with the Greek Chrous (Kitten Navidad) where in every time whatever semblance of a story is taking shape we’re led off by this narrator and Meyers’s editing which takes us into a strange loop of sequencing of events and images (which in and of themselves are good, but distracting). But when Up! does click, it works very well. Mostly this involves the early scenes with Adolph Schwartz (ho-ho), who gets masochistic sex from a dominatrix and a man with a huge thing, and then gets killed mysteriously in his bathtub. Then we’re thrust into some backwoods group, including a shifty but well-intentioned sheriff (Monty Bane), a big, uproarious homunculus in Rafe (Bob Schott), and of course Meyer’s ‘harem’ of girls.
It’s fun, in all basic intentions, to see these girls have fun and go into exuberant glee doing their scenes, as opposed to the more degrading XXX features that get pretty boring after a while. This is where the dream facet comes in, where everything is just so surreal (the frolicking sex out in the open, wherever it is, the Nazi stuff right out of a typical exploitation flick from Europe, the double-climax that combines sex AND violence), that you just have to go along for the ride and laugh with all the craziness. What helps is Meyer’s great cinematic eye- yes, great- as he shoots and edits as though every image has to be just next to perfect. While the actual content is sometimes all over the place, like with Rafe’s rape scenes, where he turns into a true drunken gorilla, the actual quality of the film-making is nearly flawless. Which is to Meyers’s credit, as what is in Up! could be the makings of a much more lewd and crude effort.
Hard to find (had to look deep on line) and not without little dips in real strength in the comedy, Up! demonstrates some great Meyers’ product: beautiful, voluptuous, and mostly funny women (loved the one woman who’s voice sounded out of femme fatale noir), total horn-dogs and beasts in men, and a bit of vicious satire to boot. More beer!