Russ Meyer: Sexploitation's Godfather, Director Of Faster Pussycat Kill Kill!

By Jacob Shelton
Left: Russ Meyer in a publicity photo from the set of 'Cherry, Harry & Raquel (1970). Right: Poster art from 'Beyond the Valley of the Dolls' (1970). Source: wrongsideoftheart.com

Director Russ Meyer, known for Faster, Pussycat Kill! Kill! (1965), Mudhoney (1965), Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, (1970) and a four Vixen movies, was a director who brought a high level of artistry to what were seen as cheap exploitation films at the time of their release, but his films were far from the low-grade "nudie" flicks that he was lumped in with. 

Jean-Luc Godard once said that all you need to make movie is a girl and a gun. Russ Meyer would agree, but his requirements for the girl in question involve actresses of mind boggling proportions.

He learned cinematography while serving in World War II and used sex as a way to make money and get distribution, not simply to titillate. Films like Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill!, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, and Mudhoney are now viewed as expressions of a director working as his peak - four of his two dozen films reside in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. Russ Meyer may have a been a dirty old man, but he knew what he liked.

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