Stars: Dolly Read, Cynthia Myers, Marcia McBroom, John Lazar, Michael Blodgett, David Gurian, Edy Williams, Erica Gavin, Phyllis Elizabeth Davis, Harrison Page, Duncan McLeod, James Iglehart, Charles Napier, Henry Rowland | Written by Roger Ebert | Directed by Russ Meyer
Russ Meyer movies may be best known for their nudity and their exploitative nature but they also had something special that raised them above most “skin flicks”. Meyer had a style and he knew how to make a fun movie. Many of his titles became cult hits, especially Beyond the Valley of the Dolls – which has just been given the Arrow Video Blu-ray treatment…
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls has a true b-movie feel to it, almost Grindhouse in style. Following an all-girl rock band as they move to Hollywood we see them sink into the cesspool of decadence which so many fell victim to. As things turn dark though, just what is the secret Z-Man (John Lazar) is hiding?
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is controversial because of the way it connected to the original Valley of the Dolls which starred Sharon Tate. With the films murders taking place in the Hollywood Hills and the themes of the story strongly relating to the Manson Tate-Labianca Murders it was bound to stir up bad feelings. This is why the movie makes it clear that this is not in fact related in any way to that film.
Famously, Roger Ebert wrote the screenplay for Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and in some way this shows in the flamboyant nature of the script. It is written with knowledge of what works for film, and what makes it feel outlandish. The audience may get lost on first viewing, but this is arguably a film that needs to be repeated. The more you watch it, the better it gets.
It seems almost unneeded to warn about nudity in a film, but there is plenty of it in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, and a lot that just isn’t needed. If you are a fan of film you know exactly what to expect from Meyer. In truth, it is fair to say that Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is one of Meyer’s tamest films, and all the better for it. This is a film not just for fans of Meyer and what he brought to the screen but also for fans of film history. Whatever you may think of nudity on the screen, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls will always be a movie that stands out as a true oddity, and a damn good one at that.
This Arrow Video release not only includes Beyond the Valley of the Dolls but also The Seven Minutes, another Russ Meyer film well worth watching. Included in the special features includes two commentaries, one by Robert Ebert and the other including members of the cast. Both make for interesting listening. Especially the cast commentary that includes plenty of memories of working with Meyer. As well as the commentaries there are plenty of documentary features that explore the making of the film and some of Meyer’s other works.
With excellent picture and sound quality this is the best way to see Beyond the Valley of the Dolls on the small screen. This is a fun release giving fans of Russ Meyer everything they expect for this movie and includes an interesting history of the man’s work. A very good release to start 2016, this is a must own for fans of film history, and fans of Russ Meyer’s work.
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is available on Blu-ray now.