Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Revenge of the Virgins Review

Revenge of the Virgins (1959)

Dir. Peter Perry Jr.

This is the story of a group of white people who go to a remote area to pan for gold. Unfortunately the place that they are going is the home of a tribe of vengeful female Indians.

So I was looking through the public domain titles at the Internet Archive and stumbled upon the title “Revenge of the Virgins” and noticed that it was tagged as “Western Nude”. My first thought was that this must be a mistake, but when I looked into it I learned that it was the first (and only) western made as part of the nudie-cutie era of the early 1960s, and that it was written by an uncredited Ed Wood. I figured that this had to been seen with the hopes that it would be a “so bad it’s good” movie. Unfortunately the film is very dull and a slog to watch. The story is simple enough; it’s about a couple that teams up with an old prospector and a couple of bad gunslingers to find some gold. These characters are a bunch of awful people who all plot to kill each other, and one by one they are slain by a tribe of topless women who occupy the land on which they are panning for gold. The story of a group of bad people who are murdered due to their own bad activities makes it feel like a story out of an old EC horror comic like Tales from the Crypt or Vault of Horror. That’s the most interesting thing about it, and if it was shorter it would be a great story as part of an anthology film, but on its own it drags. But the story wasn’t why this movie was made. This is a nudie-cutie, therefore this movie was made for one reason:  to show boobs. If you are into too seeing topless women shoot arrows, then this film is for you. (Don’t ask how they carry the arrows, they don’t have quivers and their loincloths do not appear to have pockets). The film is one of the most unerotic things I have ever seen, and that was decided before I saw the bizarre scene towards the end of the film where the tribe dances for a few minutes. Their movements can best be described as spastic, and the scene just came across as humorous to me.

The movie looks like an old sitcom, flat and boring. One scene tries to break that trend, going with a semi-overhead shot of two men sitting on the ground and talking. Normally this would be fine, but the angle that they choose was too high, so the entire shot is looking at the tops of their heads, giving you a few minutes to admire their haircuts. The move opens with an extremely bored sounding narrator talking about the tribe, and then leads to an overly long scene in a bar that introduces the main characters. Having an extended scene introducing the characters would be fine if they were likeable*, but since they are not this scene becomes a chore to watch. The movie clocks in at almost 53 minutes, but it manages to feel a lot longer. Due to its low budget nature I am sure that everything they shot went into the finished film, but I don’t think any extra scenes would improve it in any way.

While I wouldn’t say that this was the worst thing that I have ever seen, but at the same time I don’t think I would recommend it to anyone unless they wanted to see an example of the nudie-cutie era of independent film. It’s interesting as a relic of an odd time for independent filmmakers when they were able to cheaply pump out some cheapie movies featuring nudity for grindhouses, but viewed apart from that on its own merits as a film then Revenge of the Virgins fails.

If you do want to watch this film, it has fallen into public domain, so it’s easily available on YouTube and through the Internet Archive. Something Weird also released It on dvd paired with the movie The Ramrodder, which is notable because it has two members of the Manson family in minor roles.

*It’s fine to have an untraditional or unlikable l main character, as long as you have an actor or an actress with has the right amount of chemistry and stage presence to pull the role off. None of the actors in this film have that quality.

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