Music, drugs and sex! No, this isn’t a documentary about rock bands of the past! It’s a film about 70’s Sexploitation at its boldest, you dig?

Arrow Films has released a Blu-Ray release of Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls with a bonus DVD “The Seven Minutes“. (The Seven Minutes will be reviewed separately from Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls)

Arrow Films Blu-Ray Artwork

Arrow Films Blu-Ray box cover.

 

Background:

Beyond The Valley of The Dolls was originally intended to bea sequel to the 1967 film Valley Of The Dolls, author of the novel version of Valley Of The Dolls Jacqueline Susann was brought in to write the screenplay for the sequel but turned it down.

20th Century Fox turned down two previous drafts of the film until novice screenwriter Roger Ebert and director Russ Meyer wrote the third draft in 6 weeks which was picked up for filming, instead of a sequel it was intended as a spoof of Hollywood and the free-spirit culture of the time. The film had a disclaimer at the beginning of the film indicating that both films have nothing in common for copyright reasons.

When the film released it had an X-rating by the MPAA, even though it would be tame by today’s standards. It was highly sexed and very controversial at the time, due to the fact that the ending scene was inspired by The Manson Family who killed Sharon Tate in her home.

Z-Man and Sally

Z-Man and Kelly first meet.

Plot:

Three longtime friends, Kelly Macnamara (Dolly Reed), Casey Anderson (Cynthia Myers), and Petronella “Pet” Danforth (Marcia McBroom) perform in a rock band “The Kelly Affair” managed by Harris Allsworth (David Gurian), Kelly’s boyfriend, who she’s in love with and has sex with in the film. The four of them travel to Los Angelas to see Kelly’s estranged aunt. Susan Lake (Phyllis Davis), heiress to the family fortune. During there time in Los Angelas they go to a party and meet Ronnie “Z-Man” Barzell (John LaZar) who becomes there new manager. Which results in a montage of sex and promiscuity, emotional turmoil, love and violence.

The ending scene is truly Hitchcockian with one of the characters going crazy and going on a murderous rampage, Some say it was done in very bad taste because it was done during Charles Manson’s murderous exploits where he murdered Sharon Tate (which was the clear inspiration for the scene in the film) but it’s very creepy and ominous to watch. These characters die horrifically which mimicked the events that were being portrayed on television, and in the newspapers at the time of the murders. The  director used the media coverage to his advantage and made the scene in the film.

Gun In Mouth

One of the ending scenes, the woman has a gun in her mouth. But who’s holding the gun?

Special Features: 

  • Limited Edition collection of both of Russ Meyer’s Hollywood films (3000 copies).
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.
  • Standard Definition DVD presentation of The Seven Minutes.
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for both films.
  • Original mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray).
  • Separate music and effects track for Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.
  • Two commentaries on Beyond the Valley of the Dolls by co-screenwriter Roger Ebert and actors Erica Gavin, John LaZar, Cynthia Myers, Harrison Page and Dolly Read.
  • Sinister Image: Russ Meyer, David Del Valle’s 1987 interview with the director and his former model Yvette Vickers.
  • Introduction to Beyond the Valley of the Dolls by John LaZar.
  • Above, Beneath and Beyond the Valley: The Making of a Musical-Horror-Sex-Comedy.
  • Look On Up at the Bottom, with composer Stu Phillips and three members of the Carrie Nations discussing the film’s music.
  • The Best of Beyond, favourite moments selected by cast and crew members.
  • Sex, Drugs, Music & Murder: Signs of the Time, Baby!, a look at the late 1960s culture that spawned Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.
  • Casey & Roxanne: The Love Scene, discussed by participants Erica Gavin and Cynthia Myers.
  • Screen tests for Michael Blodgett, Cynthia Myers, Harrison Page, Marcia McBroom.
  • High Definition photo galleries.
  • Multiple trailers.
  • Reversible sleeve featuring two original artworks.
  • Booklet featuring new writing on both films by critic Kat Ellinger, Anne Billson’s 1991 interview with Russ Meyer, excerpts from the outraged British critical reaction at the time, and a personal reminiscence by David Del Valle.

The special features are amazing and give you a very detailed insight into the history and production of the feature film. The actor’s interviews and the introduction of the film by John LaZar are definitely the jewels of the Blu-Ray, and outshines the Blu-Ray box artwork and booklet.

 Review:

Russ Meyer and Roger Ebert push the boundaries of cinema bordering on the great and not-so-great which is a hard balance to maintain in any given field of cinema, it takes a great director, writer and film crew to juggle the film so expertly without it faltering half way through. Director Russ Meyer uses his skills with ease, utilizing his signature cutting style and inserting montages of sex and women’s breasts he’s so famous for. He showcases them both throughout the film to comedy effect as well as the disturbing ending that focuses heavily on a certain individuals breasts. Without me ruining anything, let me just say that a twist happens that’s both shocking and hilarious at the same time. So much happens in the film with the brightly colored sets and editing that it makes you feel as though you’re in the 1970’s era.

Rating:

5/5

Everything in this Blu-Ray boxset is perfect, the film is flawlessly nostalgic and all the little extras are icing on the cake for any fan of 70’s cinema. The horror-comedy-drama film is definitely worth the price.

P.S.

Special thanks to Arrow Films for allowing me to review there Arrow Video release of Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls. The Blu-Ray DVD combo is released on the 18th January 2016.

The link to the Arrow Films website is down below where you can purchase the boxset limited to 3,000 copies!

Purchase Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls

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