Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill!

Over the week, I treated myself to two very different DVD movies featuring large buxom women: Crumb, and Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill!

The latter was surprisingly enjoyable, as I had envisioned it to be a misogynistic piece of 60s soft core filmmaking. But my husband - who is as widely read as I am in gender studies, if not more so - recommended it, so I gave it a chance.

The film follows a gang of three larger-than-life, highly-sexed women as they embark on a killing rampage in the middle of the desert. They always look good; their make-up is impeccable even while they wrestle with each other in the sand. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Quentin Tarantino had this movie in mind when he wrote Kill Bill. The difference is that the women in Faster Pussycat... are of gigantic proportions in more ways than one.

The leader of the gang, Varla, played by the luscious and scary Tura Satana, is a psychopath who hates anything that appears weak - be it man, woman or soft drink. She kills with her bare hands, as is evident to us early in the movie when the gang challenges a young couple to a drag race and win unfairly, thereby causing a scuffle between Varla and the boyfriend, in which his bones get fatally cracked.

The gang then abduct his young girlfiriend who, in comparison to them, is a helpless, whingeing "kid" (as they call her). It gives the three women pleasure to see such a weak display of their own gender suffer pain and distress.

Even more than weak females, they despise men, and when they come across a ranch run by an old lecher and his sons, Varla hatches a plan to rob the geezer of his rumoured wealth. But the men quickly catch on that the kid who's with them is not there at her own will. It is never clear whether the men want to rescue the kid of keep her for themselves to violate as they wish.

The plot is secondary to the characters, though, as this movie is a study in gender caricatures. Varla and her Hispanic right-woman are actually lovers. The fact that they both look exotic (both actresses were exotic dancers in real life, after all) only accentuates their Otherness as lesbians. Their otherness, therefore, is what makes them special and seem superior to the rest.

The third member of the gang, Billie, is a fun-loving blonde who is undeniably straight ("I dunno what I'm doing with the two of you, anyway") and undoubtedly dumber than the two brunettes. The kid, the epitome of the all-American girl of Norman Rockwell paintings, is also straight, but unlike Billie, is entirely dependent on men.

The message here is clear: the less a woman needs a man, the more powerful she is, but also the more callous she becomes.

The men, on the other hand, fall for the women's wiles easily, except for the old man who is suspicious of all females. He is the only intelligent man of the lot, but because he is a lecher and is physically infirm, he must die off and we do not miss him when he does.

Man, everyone's just rotten in this movie. But because it is intentionally camp and OTT, it's actually hilarious how evil or stupid the characters are.

It's worth watching for Varla alone as she is a giant of a woman with breasts as big as her already hulkish head, but who maintains her feminine sexuality and makes no apologies for her threatening appearance.