DVD Review
by Kevin Carr

    MOVIE: ** (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5 stars)

    Dolly Reed as KELLY MCNAMARA
    Cynthia Myers as CASEY ANDERSON
    John LaZar as RONNIE “Z-MAN” BARZELL
    Michael Blodgett as LANCE ROCKE
    David Furian as HARRIS ALLSWORTH
    Edy Williams as ASHLEY ST. IVES
    Erica Gavin as ROXANNE
    Phyllis Davis as SUSAN LAKE
    Harrison Page as EMERSON THORNE
    Duncan McLeod as PORTER HALL

    Rated NC-17
    Studio: 20th Century Fox

    Directed by: Russ Meyer
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While I never quite got the allure of “Valley of the Dolls,” I have to admit that “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” is one of the most incomprehensible films I have ever seen.

I know it’s labeled as a spoof of the original “Valley of the Dolls,” and screenwriter Roger Ebert says throughout his commentary and the behind-the-scenes material that all of the humor was entirely intentional. However, I do doubt that everything was calculated humor. After seeing the film for a second time, I think that some of the humor emerged from trying to write to the hip culture of the day.

In any respect, “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” became what it is: a sex comedy send-up of the original intentions of “Valley of the Dolls.” I can see why this film would have enraged Jacqueline Susann even more than the first film, and I can see how this is a snapshot of the 60s culture as it moved into the 70s. It reeks of this era like “Square Pegs” reeks of the 80s. In that respect, it’s pretty decent.

Still, I’ll be honest with you. I really didn’t like this movie very much. I didn’t like it ten years ago when I saw it at an all-night schlock fest, and I didn’t like it last weekend when I watched it again on DVD. The only reason I can bring myself to give it the two stars that I did is entirely attributable to Russ Meyer’s handiwork. No, I’m not talking about his penance for satire. I’m talking about boobies, my friends. There are plenty to look at here, and I do like looking at boobies.

I’d take a stab at explaining the plot, but I feel I would fail miserably. The movie isn’t exactly a plot-driven film. Rather it is a send up of the “modern” culture when it was made. It was also Russ Meyer’s first legitimate film after years in the skin flicks. In the wake of this film, it’s clear why Meyer’s name didn’t race to the top of director lists like Lucas and Spielberg did later in the 70s.

The double-disc DVD special edition has a great selection of bonus features. They are extensive, although without as much depth as the ones in the double-disc release of “Valley of the Dolls.” The most interesting thing about these behind-the-scenes features and retrospectives is to see some of the actors today and how they’ve aged over 35 years.

There are two commentaries – one by Ebert and the other with much of the cast reassembled for the session. While Ebert gives a fine commentary, it is more entertaining to hear the actors reminisce on the making of this orgy of extravagance and decadence.

In addition to the number of featurettes about the film, looking at it from the bottom, there are some additional fun features. One includes a discussion of who had the best breasts in the film (and trust me, it wasn’t John LaZar), and another brings Cynthia Myers and Erica Gavin back together to talk about their surprisingly softly erotic sex scene.

If you’re a fan of the 60s and 70s exploitation flicks, “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” can’t be beat. However, I still have trouble trying to make the movie fit in my head.

Specifications: Dolby Digital Surround Sound. Widescreen (2.35:1), enhanced for 16x9 televisions. French language track. Spanish subtitles. English language subtitles for the hearing impaired.

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