Review for Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and The Seven Minutes Blu-ray and DVD
If you know who Russ Meyer is then you will know exactly what you will expecting to get with his films. His films (especially his earlier work) were known for big boobs, actions, laughs and big boobs. Contracted by 20th Century Fox after creating multiple low budget, yet extremely popular and successful independent films such as Vixen and Faster Pussycat... Kill! Kill! these two films were what he created before going back to the independents.
This double pack features Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and The Seven Minutes. It would be best to look at them both separately, but if you are a fan of Russ Meyer I would say that you already have this on pre-order and are waiting to be able to see this.
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is not a sequel to Valley of the Dolls, but about an all girl band who go to Hollywood to try and make it big. They do find success, but also the downside of fame and fall into a cesspool of decadence where nothing is off limits. Written by Russ Meyer and Roger Ebert (Yes as in Film Critic, Two Thumbs Up, Roger Ebert?) this is a very bizarre film. At times it feels too juvenile to be a film once considered X-Rated, but feels too adult to be considered anything else. By all accounts if Meyer had known he was going to get an X-Rating the film would have been much more extreme and maybe this would have helped the film.
I did enjoy it, though I felt at times I was just waiting for the next 'Russ Meyer-scene'. Meyer knows how to use a camera and the colour and everything on the screen looks wonderful especially now we can watch it on Blu-ray. This is not just a film that exists to exploit women with large breasts, though there are many with large breasts and they are shown off perfectly, but I just felt the story was a little weak. This felt like what would happen if you filmed an episode of The Monkees, but instead of them, we see four buxom babes and it was X-Rated.
The Seven Minutes is about an erotic novel called The Seven Minutes which is involved in an obscenity trial. During the trial they must discover who actually created the book and bring them to justice. This leads to the prosecution and defence trying to find out who this person is and whether what they wrote really is the awful obscene work that they say is banned in 30 countries.
This film is bizarre. The reason is because if you didn't tell me this was a Russ Meyer film I would never have known. This feels almost too serious for him and though there are moments where you can tell he is behind the camera, there is not enough to keep me interested. Unlike other films that bombed which have become cult hits or gained a following in later years, this one has really just faded into obscurity. It is not surprising that it was just attached to the other film in this set (and only included on DVD) as no one would really want to watch it, except for curiosity sake.
Special Features is really where this set brings its A-Game as if you are a fan of Russ Meyer you will want to watch everything that is on here. Multiple featurettes look at the music, 1960s culture, the making of Beyond and certain aspects such as the infamous lesbian sex scene between Erica Garvin and Cynthia Meyers. It also includes screen tests, photo galleries and trailers amongst other things.
The jewel in this set are the two commentaries which feature Roger Ebert on his own. This was before the operation which sadly cost him his voice and it is simply fascinating to listen to him talk about this film. Many always mock Ebert for making fun of bad films and yet co-writing this film. The second features a number of members of the cast and is almost like a reunion and wonderful to hear some of their stories about the film and their experiences making it.
This double set is an oddball. If it had just been Beyond the Valley of the Dolls I would have no issue with it. I think the film is well made, is mostly entertaining and the wealth of extra features makes it a must have for all Russ Meyer fans.
However, with the inclusion of The Seven Minutes, it's almost like the company are just trying to offload everything and there is no reason for it being here (other than it is the only other studio film Meyer made). As an additional feature it is fine, but it's certainly not one you will watch again. Though if you are a fan of Meyer you will buy this for the first disk no matter what as it is fantastic and certainly worth every penny and every bouncing bosom moment.