I love how Russ Meyer uses punctuation in his titles.
Welcome back to Russ Meyer Month here at B-Movie Enema. This week, we’re going to venture into X-rated territory for the 1968 drama-satire-softcore porn exploitation classic Vixen! We also travel north of the border to Canada for our story as well.
Vixen! might just be considered one of Meyer’s very best (though I have some commentary to add later). The Los Angeles Times and the New York Times both gave high praise to this film despite its themes and obvious sexploitation nature. However, again, it’s Roger Ebert who maybe says the best, most heartfelt comments calling this not just the “quintessential Meyer film” but that he also talks about how Meyer creates characters. We should already be aware with Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and Mudhoney that Meyer likes going over the top for his villains and various other stereotypical characters. Ebert calls to the front that its Meyer’s talent in doing that that helps put people at ease seeing their first “skin-flick” and allows people to just have a good time – maybe the only thing Russ Meyer really wanted people to have.
This film brings Erica Gavin back to B-Movie Enema as well. She was Jacqueline in Caged Heat. Gavin was a dancer at the time and knew some girls who had been in Meyer films. So she decided to answer the ad that was put out for Vixen! and she got the part. Meyer said that she wasn’t like the normal girls he would cast. I kid you not, he said that most of the girls he cast would have those upturned boobs. You know… The ones that turn upwards. That said, Gavin quickly became a girl that people came to see.
You see, Gavin’s character, Vixen Palmer, is oversexed and bored. Her husband leaves to go to the mountains for some time, so she decides to screw anything and everything she can. In the end, Meyer would say that he thought Vixen would be someone that he felt women would fantasize being – a girl who would ball several guys in an afternoon, then seduce her best girlfriend, and just be free, but then return to her normal world when her husband came home.
He also worked hard to make sure Vixen wasn’t someone who was destroying things. Instead, he felt she was a character who improved everything she touched. He felt that men would appreciate someone as aggressive as she was. He also said she was kind of like a switch-hitter and a utility outfielder who could basically cover all the positions and help everyone out everywhere. It’s fascinating to read some of the things he says about his characters because while he is making exploitation flicks and titty pictures, he also seems to really care to actually create someone fun and interesting despite how easy it could be to dismiss a character as just a flimsy sex object. Again, I have commentary around this.
Also, it appears that Meyer had some things to say about communism, racial bigotry, and political issues during this phase too. These topics are interjected into the final act of this film. Even in Pussycat, there was a brief mention about how an election is two years away and negative commentary from the old man about Democrats. To be honest, though, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if some of those things said in that film was just something you might hear people say casually.
One more thing about Erica Gavin before we crack open this movie… So yeah, she’s gorgeous, she was young at the time, and she won the part in this new Russ Meyer softcore “porno”. On the set of Vixen!, Gavin had an affair with producer George Costello. When Meyer learned about this, he effectively ended his professional relationship with Costello. Meyer really didn’t like funny stuff happening around his movies. He never used a casting couch. He may have admired some of the actresses and even maybe secretly loved them, but he did not mess around on his movies. That’s something I bet a lot of actresses really appreciated (certainly actresses today would appreciate I’m sure!).
The movie opens with lots of Canadian things. The flag, some buildings, an airplane from Air Canada, you get the picture. It also starts with this big heroic music while the credits scroll upwards on the screen. We then learn about Bush Country of the Northwest of Canada. Gold, silver, copper, oil, and fish make up a great deal of wealth for the area. However, travel to this area is not easy, and very limited. So we learn about bush pilots.
We meet Tom Palmer, Vixen’s husband. He’s a bush pilot and flies people up to fishing spots and such. Business is good. The guy fueling up his plane wonders about poor Vixen. Poor, sexy Vixen. Poor, sexy, incredibly horny Vixen. Tom dismisses concerns by just saying she knew who he was when they got married. Besides, she’s got to look after her kid brother and the house. That’s a mighty big job as it is, dagnabbit!
Vixen is frolicking in the fields with a Mountie who she says is taking too long so she pops open her bikini top and wastes no time to take matters into her own hands. The moment they are done, Vixen says she has to go because Tom is coming home soon. She says they had their fun, but it’s time for get back to business as usual. He’s got issues with how cold she is, but really she is just sexually aggressive and gets what she want and moves on.
There is one detriment to Vixen’s character, though… She’s a horrific racist. This was written in on purpose, but we’ll have to see how it plays out. Anyway, her brother, Judd, has a black friend named Niles. She doesn’t come right out and call him any slurs, but she trades barbs with him in an obviously racial way. She says he smells bad. She wants him to go back to the United States so he can get drafted. She keeps calling him “Rufus” even though that isn’t his name. The things she says feel like playground insults. That doesn’t excuse it. It doesn’t make the insults any less, well, insulting. It just feels like that bigotry of a sheltered or stupid person.
Also, Vixen literally would have sex with anyone too. She even teases her brother with showing off her body. It’s odd.
Tom comes home with a couple, Dave and Janet, who will be staying with the Palmers to fish before they move onto Toronto. That night, Vixen dances with Dave while Tom chats with Janet. Janet, though, doesn’t seem too keen on this part of the trip, nor is she all that excited about Vixen doing a fish dance in front of Dave.
Yeah, I said fish dance. What would you call it? She’s swaying her hips while holding a fish that she kisses and sticks in her bra before giving it to him to filet and cook.
So, yeah… What would you call it?
That night, Vixen and Tom have loud sex. In another room, Dave wants some shut eye, but Janet wants to fuuuuuck. She knows he was eyeing Vixen ever since they got there. He just wants to go to bed. She wants the diiiick.
Dave eventually relents and climbs on top. Turns out he can’t get it up. Janet knows it’s because of Vixen. Now, apparently, they have an open relationship. She’s bagged a couple other dudes since they got married. He can’t do it when he wants sex from someone else.
The next morning, the two couples go on a fishing trip. Vixen takes Dave to a “better place to fish” which just means a better place for his pole to fish her gully. Meanwhile, Janet makes a play on Tom by using his crotch as a pillow. Vixen and Dave fuck in the stream, which I’m sure is not sanitary. Janet pops her top open and Tom refuses the goods. They decide to go back to the house. Janet wants to stay at the lodge and Vixen decides she would like to keep her company if you know what I mean.
I do believe you do know what I mean.
They polish off a bottle of whiskey and Janet admits that she doesn’t care so much that Vixen made it with Dave, but she does care that she’s not having any fun herself for so long. That’s all Vixen had to hear. She’s not just the cock wrestling champion of British Columbia. She is an aspiring muff diver too.
But she almost fucks this up. She becomes really fixated on how soft Janet’s skin is and how it turns her on. She doesn’t say these things with a sexy voice or a coy look in her eye. No, she says it like a fucking psycho. Whatever, it does the trick. She dominates Janet almost like she is a man. However, they have to cut the festivities short because Dave comes back to the lodge. He tries to get more action off Vixen, but she tells him it’s Janet’s turn. Turns out he is able to make it with his wife and they leave for Toronto a happy couple again.
While they are on the way to the airport, Vixen gives Niles some uncalled for racist comments. He goes out to wait for Judd. Judd takes a shower and Vixen gets in with him so they can wash each other’s backs. She gets him hard and they start making out in the shower before going to the bedroom to fuck. Now… This. This is weird, right?
Is this Canada or Alabama? Do Canadians fuck their sisters and/or brothers?
Anyway, Judd says he’s had better – to which I certainly hope. He then teases her about tossing Niles into the mix. She is NOT into this. He tries to get her to imagine having his big black hog inside her. He goes outside, saying he’ll send Niles in to finish her off. He goes outside and tells him to go inside because she’s waiting for him. When Niles realizes that she might have Tom throw him off their property, I guess Niles decides that honky chick, Vixen, needs a lesson. A lesson his big black dong will have to teach her.
He comes in and she calls him by his real name for the first time. He throws her onto the bed and goes for her, but Tom comes home with a client. The client has chartered a flight to San Francisco and Tom plans to take Vixen with him for a vacation. The client, Mr. O’Banion, has a talk with Niles about how much he hates how he’s treated by Judd and Vixen. He says Cuba would be a good place for him to go to get the equality he’s looking for. Niles fingers O’Banion as a Communist.
O’Banion says Tom will be taking him to Cuba, by gunpoint. He says Niles will be welcomed as a great propaganda, but Niles declines until just as they are leaving. When he says he will join them, Vixen gets pissed. O’Banion puts her in her place about treating people the way she does which gives Niles a smile. Tom tells Niles to hop in and they head for the airport.
Tom says they have to land at the border for customs. It’s apparently international law. O’Banion pulls the gun. He says they will not land until Cuba. Vixen and Niles get into an argument and she tells him he’s no good just like the rest of his “tribe” so he slaps her. Vixen helps bring out the fact that it really isn’t all sunshine and rainbows in Cuba like O’Banion says it is. When O’Banion tells Niles to shut up and calls him the N-word (and not “Niles”), a fight breaks out. Tom is able to knock O’Banion out.
Niles picks up the gun and tells Tom to go back to Canada. Vixen says if Niles hurts Tom she won’t be responsible for her actions. Niles relents and they end up landing at the airport in Seattle. Niles gives Tom the gun, gets out, and decides to take off running. Vixen almost apologizes, but Niles says that it’s okay, indicating that he understands what she’s trying to say. Two new charters come to fly back to Canada with Tom and Vixen.
Vixen smiles knowing she’s going to get laid twice over again.
This… Isn’t a very good movie. I know it was meant to be something of a classic and it was certainly a huge hit at the box office, but at what cost? Vixen is a horrible bigot. She’s not very nice in general. She’s oversexed and it’s not even a clever thing where Tom knows she’s oversexed and is just freewheeling about it. Certainly, there is a camp factor, but I want to go back to what Meyer was saying about Vixen.
He said she made things better. Did she? I mean I guess helped Dave fuck Janet, but she might have taken advantage of both of them. What did she do for her brother? I mean aside from possibly making family Thanksgiving awkward as all hell? I mean, maybe it was sleeping with Judd that caused Niles to realize he shouldn’t be hanging around here anymore because maybe Judd is no better than his sister…? I don’t know.
Obviously, I’m watching this 52 years after it was released, but I can’t help but to think of this movie as being pretty baffling. However, it’s possible some things about O’Banion being a Communist and how he talked, and hell, maybe his fake Irish accent was all part of some inside joke that I don’t have any reference for. All this to say, I feel like Meyer did have things to say, but a guy in 2020 doesn’t understand the language he’s using. I mostly really wanted Niles to put Vixen in her place.
Speaking of Niles, he basically gains his freedom, right? He’s back in the USA, and he’s living off the grid so-to-speak. He’s not bumming around in Canada illegally. He’s not in Cuba being used as a propaganda tool. Okay, that’s good, but I don’t think that’s really Vixen’s doing. And then, he kind of let her off the hook. She stops him to basically apologize, and she can’t say it. So Niles doesn’t make her say anything and she smiles. Is she smiling because they reached an agreement or is she smiling because she doesn’t have any consequences? Our supposed protagonist is not a good person and doesn’t learn any lesson.
This isn’t a good movie. But, they can’t all be winners. Next week, it’s the big time classic of the Meyer filmography. The Roger Ebert-penned, debauchery of a satire Beyond the Valley of the Dolls! Don’t miss out!