Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Vixen! (1968)

Meet Vixen! Hailing from the erotic wastelands of British Columbia, Vixen has it all. She's promiscuous! She's racist! She has boobies! She might be bipolar! She can pilot a single prop airplane! Vixen is the girl you never knew you wanted, and smut pioneer Russ Meyer brought her to the big screen in 1968 with a measly $76,000 budget in the aptly titled Vixen! Fueled by controversy and the brand new X rating, Vixen! grossed over $6 million, making Russ Meyer a millionaire and "King of the Nudies."

Vixen takes Lent a little too seriously.

From the start Vixen (Erica Gavin) is up to no good. Even the cockney airplane mechanic hints at Vixen's sexual exploits to her oblivious husband Tom (Garth Pillsbury), a recreational pilot who charters attractive, sexually unsatisfied couples to their cabin in the woods. There, Vixen undergoes a brief mating ritual to seduce the husband (typically the phrase "let's go to the woods" works just fine), and if she feels like it, the wife as well (similar tactics, but with alcohol).

Getting ready to mount the Mountie.

Unsatisfied with bisexual swinging, Vixen even sets sights on her biker kid brother Judd (Jon Evans), hopping in the shower with him and "daring" him to have sex with her. Unfortunately for all decent people in the audience, he accepts the challenge. I dare not use the "I" word for fear of turning up in some especially disgusting Google search results.

I'm not going to post anything related to the previous paragraph, so here's what may be Jason Sudekis's dad!

The only person Vixen doesn't want to make it with is Judd's black friend Niles (Harrison Page) whom she refers to as "Rufus" for the majority of the film. Vixen throws every hateful racial epithet in the book at him, including a few from a new super-racist book she wrote herself. Niles's frustration comes to a head when he attempts to rape Vixen into racial tolerance, only to be stopped by the arrival of Tom's oblivious obliviousness.

How could Vixen hate that smile?

Unsatisfied by the half-rape, Niles is seduced (POLITICALLY seduced) by the communist Irishman O'Bannion (Michael Donovan O'Donnell), convincing him that Cuba is a utopia of equality with pots of gold behind every rainbow. The two plot to hijack Tom's plane and force him to fly 30 hours across the continent to the socialist island paradise. Wouldn't it be easier to simply hitchhike to Florida and catch a boat to Cuba?

The bourgeoisie is always after me Lucky Charms!

After O'Bannion reveals that Irish communists are just as racist as regular communists, Niles changes his mind and they subdue the feisty Bolshevik. In an ending that contains nearly seven entire minutes of no sex, Russ Meyer teaches his perverted audience that racism is bad, but not as bad as communism, and if you have sex with your brother you probably shouldn't prejudice, except toward communists.

Yes, this was the last shot of the film.

Before extolling the merits of Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties, Roger Ebert was one of Russ Meyer's biggest fans (and at one point collaborator, penning the screenplay to Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. In his essay Russ Meyer: King of the Nudies, Ebert claims that Meyer is a cut above the rest when it comes to smut peddlers. With his inclusion of sexually insatiable female protagonists and timely political aggrandizing, Meyer transformed erotic film by showing the importance of character and context.

What Vixen! really shows is that Meyer was very good at exploiting all possible avenues of obscenity. By relentlessly including a varied glut of taboos to offend normies and delight perverts and racists, Meyer hedged all bets to assure maximum profitability and buzz from the smallest possible investment. As far as pornography goes, Vixen! is cinematographically superior to its contemporaries (mostly films about naked Europeans playing volleyball). Meyer was a newsreel photographer during World War II, and possessed a capable guerrilla skill with the camera.

Yet when compared to even the cheapest boobie-less movies of the day, the filmmaking is weak. Meyer's signature quick cutting dialogue scenes are incredibly sloppy, showing a lack of interest in conversational pacing or rhythm. It's clear most dialogue scenes are shot very hastily. It's sloppy to the point of confusion; sightlines and blocking barely connect, as if he had no idea which cut might end up in each scene.

Though Vixen! shows its age, it's also clear how influential Meyer was in bringing smut to the mainstream. You can see his fingerprints in the work of Tarantino, Rodriguez, Roth, and Miike. Even Easy Rider, made one year later, borrows a little from Vixen! (Peter Fonda looks almost identical to Judd) as if Dennis Hopper walked out of the theatre in 1968 and thought "I should do that, except good!"

Arbitrary Rating:

Three stars (for Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties)

Quotable Quotes:

Tom: Sam! I've never seen you look so horny!

Mountie: You bitch! You cold bitch! 

Janet: Mind if i use your lap for a pillow?

Tom: Mrs. King, I'm your host and official guide, not your alternate stud! Would you button up?



  1. Chixploitation: also known as any movie that's not about the Holocaust.

    Nick, was this just an excuse for you to look at a lot of boobs from the '70s and not get in trouble?