Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Vixen! (1968)

Can sexploitation get political? It definitely can if we put Russ Meyer's crazy mind to it. After all, he proved it beyond doubt by making one of his most controversial movies – "Vixen!", starring gorgeous Erica Gavin. Produced on a shoestring budget of $76.000, it grossed more than $6 mln in couple of months, establishing Meyer as one of the most important personalities of American independent cinema. "Vixen!" was for many reasons a real turning point for US film industry, but first of all it was a first motion picture ever to be rated X – only 18+ people were able to enter the cinema in order to check it out... and the theaters, which showed it were virtually scarce.

Second of all, screening of the movie has been put on hold or picketed with a rumble by local conservative & christian organizations all around USA. They were terrified with a picture, that actually showed real sex – although this tension went down significantly over next 40 years, it didn't really change much as pornography in theses circles is still considered devil's tool to corrupt minds. Although from today's perspective "Vixen!" is just an awesome B-cinema classic, it's cheap thrills retain raving 60's vibe due to Meyer's unequivocal sense of style. Still, this shit never really made a buzz comparable to worldwide famous „Deep Throat”, premiered two years later. However, the latter one paradoxically cashed in less in short period, which shows that keeping low profile sometimes can make you a real favour.

Despite hitting soft spot of the bigots, Meyer was right on time with „Vixen!” as high 60's were exploding in a fire of the cultural revolution and everywhere you looked personal was becoming political (as countercultural slogan has put it). Let's not forget that divorce, abortion and anal sex were illegal back then almost everywhere around the world – 70's were to change it due to fierce fight of freedom organizations, which pulled off a big social offensive and finally reformed outdated laws. However, in 1968 „Vixen!” was still fighting a front of it's own by pushing the borders of what could have been shown on the screen and eventually it won by putting a first softcore movie on the map. This was a glorious moment, which actually paved the way for 70's erotic film industry and made sleazy sexploitation subgenres like women-in-prison a key asset for all independent production studios in America, Europe and Japan.

"Vixen!" is one of the coolest Meyer's flicks – an overspill of beauty, hot sex and political satire. Bizarre by any standards, the movie features a rustic, Canadian scene... as we are led to believe with propaganda style voice-over and leafy backdrop. Deep down in the forrest lives a young married couple and two bikers hang around (how would ever 60's exploitation movie pull it through without the bikers?) Vixen is pictured as an oversexed, always horny, female creature, who lives to make sweet love... apparently to everybody she can. She fucks Canadian ranger, when her husband-pilot is away, but when he comes back one day with a married friend and his wife, Vixen will fuck this fresh and handsome male body as well... she is after all on a mission to make everybody happy and that's basically main plot (who needs more anyway?)

However, there's more than that as this classy sexploitation flick expands genre's possibilities in a fascinating way. After Vixen is done with her husband's friend, she goes after his wife – a pretty and busty blonde, who is so desperate to have sex, that she'll try it with woman for the first time (fantastic lesbian sex scene). Then Vixen fucks her own brother (one of the bikers) and almost gets raped by his black buddy – an American biker , who's always on the edge, constantly teased and mocked by Vixen's racist comments. When this is finished, we expect that she'll have a nice time with a Canadian bear, but there's nothing like it as Meyer corners us instead with an off-beat political twist! A figure of professor O'Bannion appears on the scene. He reveals his communist sympathies to the black guy, who beforehand jumped the US draft and fleed to Canada. Then he tells him about Cuba: "(...) where people of all colours are equal and where revolution is still in the air (...)". Finally, they terrorize the pilot and force him to go all the way to Cuba, while we get to hear most hilarious politically soaked lines ever featured in exploitation movie (even better than satirical dialogues in "Big Bird Cage"). Personally, I fuckin' loved it!