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Beyond the Valley of the Dolls Reviews

Russ Meyer's BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS is an outrageously entertaining cult classic, and probably one of the most bizarre movies ever produced by a major Hollywood studio. Eager to break into the big time, an all-girl rock band composed of Kelly (Dolly Read), Casey (Cynthia Myers) and Pet (Marcia McBroom) heads for Los Angeles, accompanied by their manager Harris (David Gurian), who's also Kelly's lover. Kelly's aunt introduces the girls to record producer Ronnie "Z-Man" Barzell (John LaZar), who turns the group into stars. As they become successful, Kelly abandons Harris for playboy Lance Rocke (Michael Blodgett), Harris is seduced by a porn star, and Pet falls in love with a law student. Casey, who gets hooked on pills and alcohol, is attracted to Kelly's aunt's lesbian employee. Things reach a head when Lance and the band members attend a party at Barzell's house; "Z-Man" freaks out and attacks his guests one by one in the guise of a superheroine named "Superwoman." After losing a fortune on epic flops like DOCTOR DOOLITTLE (1967), Twentieth Century-Fox enlisted Russ Meyer--who had earned millions with low-budget skinflicks--to make a film for them. The result was a film that outraged the industry but turned a huge profit on a $1.2 million budget, despite Fox's trepidation in promoting it. Technically, Meyer's films were always topnotch, and in this, his first widescreen movie, he and cinematographer Fred Koenekamp create some stylish comic-book compositions, splashed with Day-Glo colors. In addition to a cast of former-Playboy models and other non-actors delivering film critic Roger Ebert's mind-boggling dialogue ("You will drink the black sperm of my vengeance"), there are wild orgies, drug parties, Nazi butlers, and a gruesome Manson-like massacre that reaches a manic pitch of surreal hysteria. BEYOND is often repellent and demented-- which is to say it's typical Meyer--but it's also a funny, psychedelic time-capsule.