Running time: 80 mins
Director: Russ Meyer
Starring: Raven De La Croix, Edward Schaaf, Robert McLane, Elaine Collins
Genre: Comedy, Drama
We round off Meyer Monday with one of his famous and immediately recognisable cinematic offerings and Up! When Adolf Schwartz (Schaaf) is killed by a piranha in his bath tube after a depraved sexual encounter involving Paul (McLane), The Ethiopian Chef (Elaine Collins) and Limehouse (Su Ling) the small hill town is plunged into a mysterious who-dunnit.
That’s the plan at least. The small town violence doubles when one of the towns troubled youths is also killed after a sexual assault on new girl Margo Winchester (Le La Croix) and slowly but surely the entire town falls under her highly charged sexual spell. There’s only a handful of issues with this idea. All of which involve the sudden and almost as mysterious disappearance of any plot. There are large expanses of time in Up! were the audience will struggle to care about what’s taking place because it’s so under developed it’s a surprise the script made it to term. There is a certain small town
element to the film that rings true, fans of Knockemstiff will be able to understand what I mean about the small town mind. The
fixation on sex and alcohol as a way to almost curb the boredom is certainly an
interesting idea that’s worth looking at in American cinema and Raven De La
Croix certainly has the look of a sensationally seductive siren that could
easily gain control of all folk in such a place but it’s not enough.
The way in which everything is dealt with is superficial, one dimensional and faux erotic and eroticised. I find it difficult to even review a film of this calibre with any degree of depth or consideration as there’s no real degree of depth or consideration in it’s construction. The final twenty or so minutes with Rafe and his behaviour towards not just Margo but Alice is one of interest, as is Homer and Paul’s quest to tame the bear like mountain man but it is most certainly too little too late. It’s a real shame because Meyer have had something here, not just potentially in the narrative but in casting.
Up! hints at a lot, it hints at a narrative to looks at the relocation of Nazi war criminals into the bosom of the
United States because it suits them, the
deterioration of values and male female relationships in small town America, the
desensitisation towards violence in American culture and the effects of
remote/isolation on the human psyche. It
promises all, it hints at all – it delivers none. Similarly Meyer found a genuine star talent
in Raven De La Croix. She is the archetypal
alpha female, she’s Erica Gavin, Alaina Capri but with a physicality and
brooding sexual danger that deserved better and so many more titles – but again
she got nothing.
The film lays itself out as a Greek tragedy crossed with a soap opera and in essence it achieves a degree of what it strives for but only just and not by much. A tragic mess of a movie.