Supervixens is a 1975 American sexploitation film directed by American filmmaker Russ Meyer. The cast features Meyer regulars Charles Napier, Uschi Digard, and Haji. The film also features Shari Eubank (in a dual role) in one of her only two film roles ever and Christy Hartburg in her only film role ever.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Russ Meyer|
|Produced by||Russ Meyer|
|Written by||Russ Meyer|
|Music by||William Loose|
|Edited by||Russ Meyer|
|Distributed by||RM Films International|
|Box office||$17 million|
Gas station attendant Clint Ramsey, who works at Martin Bormann's Super Service in the desert, finds himself too irresistible to a series of girls, all of whom have the word "Super" in their given names. In the beginning, he is married to the hypersexual, demanding, and jealous SuperAngel (Shari Eubank), who constantly harasses him at work. She orders him home at once when she calls Clint and overhears a female customer, SuperLorna (Christy Hartburg), hitting on him at work. Clint finds SuperAngel's constant accusations and arguing a turn-off and, back at home, they fight after he rejects her aggressive advances. A neighbor calls the police as Clint leaves for a local bar, where the bartender is the very scantily clad SuperHaji (Haji).
Meanwhile, SuperAngel seduces Harry Sledge (Charles Napier), the cop who responded to the police call. He is impotent and unable to perform. She repeatedly taunts and insults him over this, which finally results in him killing her by stomping her brutally in a bathtub, then throwing a radio in the water which was plugged into the wall socket. Sledge burns down the house, then tries to pin the murder on Clint. Clint claims being in the pub all night, but SuperHaji has her revenge on him (for insulting her breast size earlier) by refusing to confirm his alibi. Clint is then forced to flee.
In his rush to escape, Clint hitchhikes a ride from a boy (John LaZar) and his girlfriend SuperCherry (Colleen Brennan). During the drive, SuperCherry comes on to him and puts his hand over her breast, but then pulls it back. She then tries to give him a handjob over his pants, but he continues to resist her advances. The driver takes offense to Clint rejecting his girlfriend, but she says he probably just wants a closer contact. She again attempts and fails to seduce him and he asks the driver to let him get out. The driver follows him out and beats and robs him. Clint is found by an old farmer who takes him to his farm to heal from his injuries and Clint agrees to work for the farmer for a week to repay him.
The farmer has a younger Austrian mail-order bride, SuperSoul (Uschi Digard), who is hypersexual. After energetically satisfying her husband, she comes knocking on Clint's door at night. She immediately pushes him into his bed where she proceeds to mount and rape him, until he manages to overpower her. However, she does the same the following day and this time overpowering him after jumping him from behind in the barn. Looking for SuperSoul, the farmer finds them in the barn, then chases Clint away and punches SuperSoul.
Fleeing from the farm, Clint meets a motel owner and his deaf daughter, SuperEula (Deborah McGuire), who convinces him to take a ride with her in her dune buggy to have sex in the desert. They are caught by her father and chased out of town.
Clint eventually meets up with SuperVixen (also played by Shari Eubank) at Supervixen's Oasis, a roadside diner. SuperVixen is (inexplicably) a friendly and giving reincarnation of SuperAngel, whose ghost now appears nude between scenes to comment on the plot from atop a bedspring balanced on a mesa. Clint and SuperVixen fall in love and are inseparable, although their common nemesis, Harry Sledge, arrives on the scene and plots ending the lives of the now happy couple.
- Shari Eubank as SuperAngel / SuperVixen
- Charles Napier as Harry Sledge
- Uschi Digard as SuperSoul / Telephone Operator
- Charles Pitts as Clint Ramsey
- Henry Rowland as Martin Bormann
- Christy Hartburg as SuperLorna
- Colleen Brennan as SuperCherry (as Sharon Kelly)
- John LaZar as Cal MacKinney (as John La Zar)
- Stuart Lancaster as Lute
- Deborah McGuire as SuperEula
- Glenn Dixon as Luther
- Haji as SuperHaji
- 'Big Jack' Provan as Sheriff (as Big Jack Provan)
- Garth Pillsbury as Fisherman
- Ron Sheridan as Policeman
Meyer's previous two films had failed at the box office - The Seven Minutes (1971) was a straight drama about censorship, done for 20th Century Fox, and Blacksnake (1973) was a blaxploitation film. He originally intended to follow this with Foxy starring his then-wife Edy Williams but the marriage ended and "I just couldn't picture myself making twenty films starring Edy Williams". He was also worried about the Supreme Court decision against pornography..
"Those years were very confusing to me," said Meyer. "But instead of rushing off and throwing myself out the window, I was able to psychoanalyze myself and discern what was best for me. I looked myself square in the face and realized I couldn't do everything."
"I don't want to do too much yakking," he said. "If there was too much plot, too much dialogue, the story would get in the way of the action. I want a film like an Al Capp cartoon where you know right off wh's good and who's bad."
"I'm gonna really deliver on this film." Censors were cracking down on sexually explicit films at the time but Meyer said, "I'll do the things I've always done. I'll do everything I can to outwit them. I'll supersaturate it with outrageous bosums."
At one stage Meyer was reportedly making the film for American International Pictures.
Meyer said he planned to shoot the film in R-rated and X-rated versions. He would release the R version, then later release a more explicit X rated version. However the film would not include hard core sex. "I don't criticise hard core," he said. "I just don't dig it."
He said he was also influenced by the stories of Horatio Alger. "They were always about a young man who was totally good, and he would always set out to gain his fortune and he would always come up against terrible people," said Meyer. "They did everything they could to do him in, but he fought fair, you know, and he always survived and succeeded in the end. So, that's just one facet of the thing."
Meyer flew to the Mauna Kea Hotel in Hawaii in September 1973 and wrote the script. It was the first screenplay he wrote entirely by himself and he did the first draft in eight days. Meyer says he rewrote it nine times, with input of the actors. "I think actors contribute to the comfort of words because it's one thing to sit in a little green room somewhere and write dialogue, but when you hear actors speaking it, it doesn't necessarily flow as well as it might," said Meyer.
The two main female characters in the film were Superangel and Supervixen. "Superangel, she's totally bad but beautiful," said Meyer. "Supervixen, she's totally good. They're bookends. I like bookend constructions."
"I set out to make a picture that I thought might compete favorably with today's market in keeping with what I had done heretofore," he added. "And you know, crowded on one side by hardcore films and on the other side by major product that is very explicit. Heretofore, always, I had one super female in the film. This time, I said I was going to have seven. And we'd bring one in every reel, like a new linebacker. And I think it works, it really works. You don't have time to grow tired of the looks or the actions of one girl, for example."
Meyer said Supervixen wearing white was a tribute to The Postman Always Rings Twice. "She's good, pure." He wanted to hint that Superangel maybe did not die in the bathtub but wound up reincarnated:
Guiding the destinies of three people: terrible, nasty, dirty, nogood Harry Sledge, policeman, former green beret, redneck, opinionated, a bum lay, sexually sick, very physical, very muscular; and Clint, clean, slim, obviously a stud but not in a pushy, forward kind of way, totally good; and Supervixen, voluptuous, pure, good, totally giving, self-sacrificing.
In March 1974, scenes were shot at the Crest Motel and the Sultan's Den in Blythe, California, before the crew finished filming in Quartzsite, Arizona. A dune buggy scene was filmed in the Quartzsite area the past month.
The film featured a murder scene which was the most violent yet depicted in a Meyer film. "My films have to please me, to entertain me, and I really dig violence," said Meyer. "I think it's very entertaining. Of course, I like to involve sex with it - sex with gusto - that's my style."
The film was Meyer's biggest commercial success since Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, making $8.2 million during its initial theatrical run.
"It's wonderful to come back and find that my kind of voluptuous, superbosumy LA Rams-Chicago Bears scrimmage kind of put on sex is perfectly acceptable to the mainstream," he said. "People want to be amused, entertained and that's what I'm giving 'em."
Meyer called it "a very good film" although "people kept asking, "Why did you have to have that bathtub murder," when really the success of the film was the bathtub scene, since there was so little sex in the picture. After a tour of Ivy League colleges and after showing it in Europe, it was clear to me that in the two weeks before its national release I had to interject some more sex. And I did, fortunately. Otherwise I don't think it would have performed as well as it did. But it wouldn't have worked as an R. The audience smells that. You lift a whole sequence out and they won't come."
Meyer also said later the thought "the film wouldn't have had the success it had" without Napier "in spite of the big boobs and seven girls. Napier, I think, has a quality that few actors possess: Wallace Beery, Borgnine, Alan Hale. There can be just a thin edge separating evil and humor and they work both sides of that line."
After the film came out Meyer said "I plan to stick to what I know works and make one X picture after the next and be even more outrageous with sex and keep pushing the boundaries further and further."
Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote that the film "looks sort of ritualistic, sort of perfunctory, made up of actions whose original meaning and purpose have been forgotten ... 'Supervixens' is a curio for film buffs." Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film one star out of four and wrote that "Meyer has lost the sense of humor that occasionally made his films enjoyable. The humor has been replaced with repulsive amounts of violence." Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times said Meyer explored "as never before to such an extent the dark underside of his erotic myths. It's 'Supervixens,' not 'The Day of the Locust,' that's genuinely apocalyptic."
As a groundbreaker cultural revolutionaire, Meyer was ever watchful for adding sly remarks about American Society. Especially insightful are these:
- Meyer makes the cartoonish nature of the film explicit towards the end, when Harry's impending death is preceded by the "Beep-beep!" sound of the Roadrunner, which always introduces imminent disaster for Wile E. Coyote in the Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner cartoon series. The antagonist breaks the Fourth Wall between the fictional world and the audience with a facial gesture showing he is resigned to his fate.
- As a humorous sidenote, in the end credits of the film the names of all participants have been changed either partially (Uschi Bristol instead of Digard) or completely (Brown Pants, C. Unt). Shari Eubank is credited as 'Shari Sheridan'.
- As a combat photographer in World War II, Russ Meyer made many friends and acquaintances in Europe. Meyer used running jokes and recurring themes in many of his films which were unique to the veteran's sense of humor. In Supervixens, these include the use of German marching tunes and Nazi references. Actor Henry Rowland appears as Martin Bormann, who was Adolf Hitler's personal secretary, rumored to have escaped Allied justice for decades and the subject of many "sightings". The Bormann character refers to SuperAngel as the Führer.
- Bruce Springsteen mentions this film in the chorus of his song "Pilgrim in the Temple of Love".
- Garbage included a song called "Supervixen" on their self-titled debut album.
Edy Williams, Myer's ex-wife, later sued unsuccessfully for a portion of the film's profits.
- "Supervixens, Worldwide Box Office". Worldwide Box Office. Retrieved January 22, 2012.
- "Supervixens". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
- Russ Meyer: Ten Years After the 'Beyond' Ebert, Roger. Film Comment; New York Vol. 16, Iss. 4, (Jul/Aug 1980): 43-48,80.
- A Dirty Deal?: Pornography Ruling Causing Confusion and Chaos, Many Traditional Publishers and Filmmakers Say By EARL C. GOTTSCHALK JR. Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL. Wall Street Journal 16 July 1973: 28.
- Russ Meyer, Almost An American Institution: Russ Meyer, Almost an American Institution By Kenneth Turan. The Washington Post 9 Nov 1976: B1.
- Meyer: Up to his old chicks again Preston, Marilynn. Chicago Tribune 27 Apr 1975: e16.
- Censoring the Cinema: 'Obscene' Is Never Having to Say You're Sorry: Obscenity and the Court By Tom Shales. The Washington Post 3 Mar 1974: E1.
- Morris, Gary (July 1, 2000). ""Not That I'm Horatio Alger": Russ Meyer on The Supervixens". Bright Lights Film Journal.
- Charles Napier: 'We're Outcasts, but We're You': Best of the Bad Los Angeles Times 5 Feb 1978: m41.
- "Film crew here". Palo Verde Valley Times. Blythe, California. 1974-03-28.
- Incredibly Strange Films. Starbrite. 1986. p. 82.
- Outrageous exploits of an incorrigible chest nut The Guardian 18 Dec 1982: 7.
- Canby, Vincent (August 9, 1975). The New York Times. 8.
- Siskel, Gene (May 2, 1975). "'Supervixens' isn't, the porn's forlorn". Chicago Tribune. Section 3, p. 3.
- Thomas, Kevin (May 14, 1975). "Violence Bared in 'Supervixens'". Part IV, p. 14.
- Actress Denied Share of X-Rated Movie's Profits Los Angeles Times 6 Nov 1975: b20.