Film Confessions: Beyond the Valley of the Dolls

(Star rating yet to be determined)

By Christian DiMartino

I told myself for the month of February, I was only going to watch movies that received Oscar nominations (unless I was to go see something like Zoolander 2). But in a twist of fate, I decided that I had to break my goal.

The first time I heard about Beyond the Valley of the Dolls was in a tremendous documentary called Life Itself, about the late Roger Ebert. Much to my surprise, Ebert wrote the film, and from what I gathered, it looked like the kind of film he might’ve hated. But yet when you give me “Roger Ebert” and “boobs” involved in one project, you immediately have my interest.

But after two years of searching, I just sort of gave up. Until I was at a store last night, and I came upon a copy of it for… $34. That’s a bit excessive, but alas, my hunt to find it was alive again. And surely enough, I watched it. Yes, I broke my goal. But I watched it.

The opening says that it isn’t a sequel to Valley of the Dollsso that we know. It basically, from what I gathered, revolves around a group of girls who come to LA in search of fame. But about five minutes into this thing, you know it’s just going to be a wild ride. That’s about it in terms of story.

So, what can you say about Russ Meyer’s Beyond the Valley of the DollsThat isn’t so easy. I loved it, but it’s a really bizarre and kind of terrible film… that is still just so out there that I have to admire it. To quote Z-Man, and Austin Powers: “It’s my happening, and it freaks me out.” I don’t know if any piece of dialogue ever could describe the way I feel about a movie better than that one.

Because I guess it is my happening. It’s got a great 70s energy to it, it’s wild, it’s sexy, there’s naked people dancing all around the place, there’s a man with tits, people get murdered, someone gets decapitated, it has a great soundtrack… wait, what?

See, there’s so much you can say about Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, but yet none of it will ever sound right to a normal person. I like to consider myself a normal person, but I still found Beyond the Valley of the Dolls to be ridiculous, campy, over-the-top, fun. The funny thing is, I believe Meyer and Ebert were trying to make a comedy. Eh, don’t see that here. Though you might laugh at the insanity of it all.

So, am I telling you this is a good film? Yes, and no. It’s aimless, it’s trashy, it’s too weird for its own good. But yet I also found that to be the allure of it. You noticed that at the top I didn’t actually include a star-rating, as I normally would. That’s because, truth be told, I may never know how I truly feel about Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. I might enjoy it, but what rating can you give a movie like this? No damn clue. All I know is… I wish I would’ve spent the $34.

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