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Vixen Palmer (Erica Palmer) is the wife of a Canadian bush pilot
and her husband run a resort for vacationers, but she utilizes the
place more for her erotic exploits than for making money
To say that
she is having sexual relations with many is an understatement
provokes many of the young boys in a nearby town, and basically has a
Everyone seems to know about Vixen's exploits except her husband, who constantly considers her a loving, loyal housewife The plot moves into high gear when a Communist hijacks the husband's plane and orders him at gunpoint to fly to Cuba
While Meyer never moved into graphic sex, "Vixen" was one of the early expressing films for the adult market It contained much simulated intercourse, a lot of nudity, and sex jokes... The film by nature is exploitative, but Meyer always lets the plot move in and out of the erotic encounters, creating a distinct stimulating sex comedy rather than a series of cheap shots The performances are always exuberant, anddespite the hilarious actionthe characters are very realistic
Russ Meyer made movies that are unlike any others I can think of. Remembered
as one of the pioneers of nudies and sex comedies, what isn't commented on
as much as it should be is the sheer strangeness of his output. Never as
flamboyantly bizarre as Jodorowsky, Argento or Lynch he nevertheless in his
own way is as surreal as they come. 'Vixen!'s appeal may be mainly the
promise of sex, that's a given, and the buxom Erica Gavin is unforgettable
in the title role of a Canadian nympho who can't seem to keep her hands off
any man, woman or even (in a fantastically strange erotic dance sequence)
fish, but how does that explain the unexpected and jarring racial and
political themes and speeches? What exactly was Meyer trying to achieve?
Beats me. I've been a fan of his for years and I still can't explain him.
Erica Gavin (later in Meyer's classic 'Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls' and Demme's women in prison exploitation flick 'Caged Heat') may not be able to act for toffee, but watching this you can't keep your eyes of her. In between spewing racial epithets and taunts at her brother's draft dodger friend Niles (Harrison Page, also later of '..Dolls'), she screws her husband, a Mountie, a visiting couple, and even her own brother Jud, a hip biker type (Jon Evans). Vixen's loving husband Tom (Garth Pillsbury, 'Supervixens'), a freelance pilot, remains oblivious to her goings on and adores her. However before the end, Vixen, Tom and Niles world's will be turned upside down by the arrival of a mysterious Irishman O'Bannion (Michael Donovan O'Donnell), who has an agenda of his own.
'Vixen!' has to be seen to be believed! Another oddball classic from Russ Meyer.
Russ Meyer's VIXEN was one of the first films to receive the newly-formed MPAA's X rating. There were stories that in some theatres, people would pay just to see the trailer for it then leave before the main feature(shades of THE PHANTOM MENACE!). Comparing it to other adult films of that era or even to some of Meyer's other films, VIXEN looks almost tame. Erica Gavin stars as a sexually voracious woman who lives in Canada with her bush pilot husband. During the course of the film, Gavin has sex with her husband, a Mountie (apparently they always get their WOMAN too), both members of a married couple that they guide through the Great White North and her own brother(!). Oddly enough, the only name I recognized from this movie was Harrison Page, the black friend of Vixen's brother. Page, like Gavin, also appeared in Meyer's BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, but he also had a sitcom in the Seventies (LOVE THY NEIGHBOR . . . and no, it wasn't about wifeswapping!). As with Meyer's other work, there is no way you can watch this and keep a straight face . . . nor should you want to.
I find it amazing nobody has yet commented on this film, which it's
certainly impossible to ignore (just like any other Russ Meyer
So I'm not going to comment either. I won't talk about how ignored Russ Meyer is as a genuine auteur or how misinterpreted his films are by the vast majority of critics. And I won't mention how I think Russ Meyer has a great talent for writing dialogue with deep, philosophical implications (though some people would never know it).
If I have one complaint, it's that the film (or filmette) is rather too short at only 70 mins US, 63 mins Deutschland. Those poor Germans had fully 10% of the movie slashed, and one wonders why; it was rated 18 or X anyway, and though the film has "adult themes" (in case you didn't notice) it's in no way "pornographic" (for that matter, neither is ANY Russ Meyer film, in my opinion).
The most entertaining aspect of the movie is undoubtedly the unique style of acting. Actually, I don't think the acting in this movie (or for that matter ANY Russ Meyer movie) is "bad". It's just self-consciously mannered in a style that immediately tells you, as soon as you switch on the TV, that you're watching a Russ Meyer movie. Russ worked hard (I'm sure) to coax such performances from his interesting casts. There is no other director I can think of whose work is so strongly styled that it's immediately identifiable as one of his films. When you watch a Russ Meyer film, you enter a parallel universe much stranger than reality.
I love this film. So many Meyer fans seem to undervalue it and I don't understand why. I prefer the early films and find the bigger more farcical movies harder to take, so I guess as usual it's all about horses and courses. Nobody can deny, though, the masterful camera-work and editing. The scenes in the woods, the 'rape' and the glorious helicopter ride are so well shot that one is always wishing he could have harnessed these skills to more cinematic effect. The racial taunting surprises now and must have divided audiences at the time (some probably shouting along with them - how times have changed) and similarly the references to Vietnam and communism, whilst now of socio/historic interest must have been far more directly involving. Ms Gavin does well as do the rest of the cast and if she has trouble with her facial expressions once or twice (particularly during the girl on girl scene) there is not much wrong with her breasts, even if she and Meyer thought them a bit small! Very enjoyable and lacking the campy aspect of later output.
Having only discovered Russ Meyer relatively recently, I cant say I'm a
lifelong fan of his work; but every time I see another of his movies,
my respect and admiration for the man increases, and Vixen is no
exception to that rule; as while it may not be the man's best work;
it's certainly right up there with the likes of Supervixens and Faster
Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and Vixen is also the film that put the great
director on the map. As anyone who knows Meyer's movies will probably
already know, Vixen stars a buxom lady in the lead role and puts most
of its focus on sex. Unlike Meyer's later work, however, Vixen actually
seems to want to make some sort of political point; which while absurd
and completely redundant, gives the film an extra layer. The plot is
simple, as is often the case with Meyer's movies, and focuses on a
young woman in British Canada named Vixen. As her name suggests, Vixen
enjoys seducing people; both men and woman, with no prejudice...except
for the fact that she's openly racist, which causes arguments with her
brother's black friend...
It's the buxom females that make Russ Meyer's films what they are, and this one is no exception. Erica Gavin takes the lead role and fits it like a glove. It's true that her ample chest does her a few favours, but she's also a decent actress and always entirely believable in her role. Russ Meyer's later films feature plenty of full frontal nudity and can be considered 'hardcore' - but that isn't the case here. The film is only soft - the sex scenes aren't explicit and while the women are happy to take their tops off, nothing else is shown. This may be a disappointment to anyone going into this film and expecting something more like Meyer's later stuff, but it didn't bother me much as the film has more than enough else about it to ensure that it's entertaining. The one lesbian scene is excellently done and erotic in spite of the fact that it's not explicit; while a strange sequence involving fish and the incest scene between Vixen and her brother is sure to shock some viewers even now, so I'm sure that was the case in the sixties too. Meyer also sees fit to include political themes and racial issues in the film, which make it all the more bizarre considering how out of place it feels! Vixen is a highly enjoyable piece of film-making and I'm confident that it will hit all the right notes for my fellow Meyer fans!
SYNOPSIS: The escapades of an insatiable wife living in the backwoods
CONCEPT IN RELATION TO THE VIEWER The sexual revolution and the concept of hedonism. Pushing the limits of what is acceptable to show.
PROS AND CONS I have always been a big fan of Russ Meyer. Along with Federico Fellini, I consider him a true innovator in film. Many write him off as a sexploatation film maker of the "B" movie genre. I beg to differ, he was a true pioneer and a maverick and his films have stood the test of time.
What always captivated me about Meyer's work was how he got so much out of a film by doing the basics and doing them well. His films are low budget and look it, but they captivate you regardless. The dialog is crisp and quick, the editing is sharp and the story moves along quickly. This film is only an hour long but you wouldn't know it when it is all over.
Meyer financed most of his own movies, used the same troop of actors, did his own cinematography and writing along with most of the editing. He ran the whole show and answered to no one. What you see on the screen is his vision and no one elses. You have to admire an artist that can create such a large body of work under those terms.
This was Meyer's first 'big' film that got wide release. It was also the first mass distributed film to be given an "X" rating, which is laughable by today's standards. There is no explicit sex scenes or graphic nudity in this film. But there is a lot of implied sexuality and topless women. What made the film controversial in its day was its portrayal of wanton sexuality and taboo subjects such as incest and lesbian relationships.
The plot is rather simple. Vixen likes to fool around and does so with wild abandon. Thrown into this mix are subjects of infidelity, racism, patriotism, honesty and morals. You don't really like Vixen in this film. She is beautiful to look at, but she is a bitch to almost everyone and only appears to seek self gratification and cares for no one but herself.
Just the title "Vixen!" should identify what sorts of things this movie entails. Specifically, hot young Vixen Palmer (Erica Gavin) lives in British Columbia with her pilot husband and beds every man - and sometimes every woman - who comes her way. I get the feeling that along with looking at some of the important issues of the era, Russ Meyer really wanted to provoke a few emotions in people with this movie, given how Vixen makes racist comments to an African-American motorcyclist who fled the US to avoid getting sent to Vietnam. If he wanted to provoke emotions, then he sure provoked horniness in me with some of those sex scenes! Yes, it's mostly brainless erotica. Well, it doesn't pretend to be anything else. You're watching a nice, steamy movie, and you'd better accept it as such. Because this is one ultra-super-enjoyable movie. Hubba hubba...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Most reviews focus on how Vixen sleeps with just about everyone in the film & although my review touches on that, Vixen & her husband, Tom remain at the heart. What I find so odd about Vixen is that she does truly love Tom. Not that the movie's main audience will care, but I do. Tom's naivete towards his wife's infidelity endears me. Vixen just has this terrible problem. Like there should be a pill to help her condition. Maybe it's hereditary or she has deadly bodily fluids she needs to get rid of. No, I know what the real cause of her problem is: Russ Meyer & the audience he's catering to. He's also out to shock.
I believe everyone has the need to be loved unconditionally. Even though Vixen betrays Tom's trust she probably values & needs the love & respect he shows her. Tom's the nicest guy in the film. Some may call Tom bland, but I don't agree. Niceness doesn't always translate into blandness. Tom is very amusing & cute. Throughout everything Tom remains number 1 in Vixen's books. In an unexpectedly poignant moment Tom laments how a visitor to their cabin makes more money than he has in the last 5 years. Vixen doesn't care, Tom pleases her where it counts most. No shock as to what she means by that. Maybe if she'd stop to think, she'd realize that nobody could take Tom's place because she actually loves him & he loves her. People have called Vixen selfish & although I don't condone her racist remarks, I can't totally agree with this view. If she's so selfish how come when Nile's threatens to hurt Tom, she's willing to let everyone aboard the plane including herself die. You don't have to tell me, I know the ending shows no improvement in Vixen's condition, but I was happy to see that the last sex scene in the film is between Tom & Vixen. It was so rewarding to see the right people together.
I enjoyed Erica Gavin's acting. For someone who wasn't planning on being an actress she does a mighty fine job. The only sad thing was that having seen her in 'Beyond the Vally of the Dolls' first it was a shock to see that she once looked healthy. I wish she would have kept the weight on.
Vixen's story is simplistic & doesn't bare much scrutiny, but if it is merely a skin flick it is definitely one with characters with substance & a silly musical score.
I give it a 7 out of 10.
The print I saw was in terrible condition, with several minutes eliminated by jumping and scratching and the colour a uniform washed-out pink. On the bright side, this added an even more surreal layer to Meyer's already fairly radical editing style. Anyway, a lot of it, although entertaining enough, is pretty basic stuff of Gavin pouting and staring and flaunting herself and jumping on every man in sight with an infectious shameless pleasure. It gets radical when she seduces her own brother in the shower, with little moral hesitation (at that point she's already gone through another woman, a Canadian mountie and a couple more guys). The most intriguing aspect is embodied by the black character whom she relentlessly and openly taunts; he then falls in with the IRA guy and...well, see for yourself. The juxtaposition of nudie exploitation with such open rabble-rousing politics is fairly startling just as an idea, but Meyer pushes it so far that the woman goes beyond mere feistiness and carefreeness into a systematic challenger of all niceties and convention - she calls the black guy every racist epiphet, but her lack of bull ultimately opens his eyes.
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