RUSS MEYER’S UP! (1976)

Up! (1976, Russ Meyer)

Russ Meyer followed up on the relative success of 1975’s Supervixens with Up! From a script based on Roger Ebert’s original story, Meyer produced his most surreal live-action, X-rated cartoon. There is no tangible plot, but rather loosely connected vignettes.

Up! opens with a sadomasochistic scene of Adolf Schwartz (Edward Schaaf) being tortured, and pleasured, by three female prostitutes, each belonging to a different ethnic group: the Ethiopian Chief (Elaine Collins), the Oriental Limehouse (Su Ling) and Pocahontas (Foxy Lae). Of course, the Native American requires a Captain Smith, who she get in puritan pilgrim Paul (Robert McLane, with a foot-long prosthetic penis). Candy Samples also appears, under a mask, to breast slap Adolf, who is actually the aged Adolf Hitler, having apparently faked his 1944 suicide. He’s living in a Bavarian castle (his mailbox has a red flag) until a mysterious black-gloved assassin drops a piranha in the Fuhrer’s bathtub to the strains of the Horst-Wessel-Lied. Although obviously justified, Adolf’s death is actually a disappointment: within the dank dungeon, Schaff is the most animated sex participant, expressively enjoying his carnality. The remaining cast members all engage with the outdoor, sunny California countryside, but under a spell of kinetic blankness, like sex machines gone wild. That is intentional. It is essential to be aware of this film’s time period. The country was still under the spell and success of the hardcore XXX filmDeep Throat (1972). It influenced the entire sexploitation industry and Up! is a venomous, satirical rejection of the hardcore phenomenon. Paradoxically, Up! is also an attempt to appease changing tastes.

Up! (1976, Russ Meyer) Adolf Schwartz (Edward Schaaf)

Kitten Natividad appears (nude, except for leather boots) as “the Greek Chorus”: a mythological goddess come down to pleasure our eyes and inform us that Adolf’s death was “a murder most foul.” Throughout the rest of the film, Natividad sits atop phallic trees, prances through the landscape, and quotes dabs of Shakespeare mixed with nonsensical phrases such as “the kamikaze of cunnilingus” and “the black sperm of revenge” while Sweet L’il Alice (Janet Woods) engages in interracial dildo sex with Gwendoline (Linda Sue Ragsdale).

Russ Meyer and Roger Ebert

Cue the second opening (apparently, the first was a kind of overture): Margo Winchester (busty Raven de la Croix, in an amusing Mae West impersonation) is hitching a ride not far from the castle when the vile redneck Leonard Box (Larry Dean) chases her into a lake and brutally rapes her. In retaliation, she kills him, but copper Homer Johnson (Monty Bane) threatens to arrest her. Naturally, they retreat to a mountain cabin where she repeatedly pleasures Johnson’s johnson (another foot long prosthetic) and avoids incarceration.

Up! (1976, Russ Meyer)

Natividad returns sporadically to try to guide us through the dizziness (thankfully, she fails) and consistently reminds us that “a murder most foul,” has been committed (as if we care, unless you’re a mournful Meyer with a Nazi fetish).

Up! (1976, Russ Meyer) Kitten Natividad

Johnson’s johnson gets pleasured by more busty babes, including “Chesty Young Thing” Marianne Marks, on her knees. Winchester (after trying out numerous studs) decides to get a job at Paul and Alice’s diner as a dancing waitress, where her cleavage makes her a local sensation. Unfortunately, her gyrating arouses backwoodsman Rafe (Bob Schott) who rapes her on a table to a cheering crowd of sex-starved hayseeds (Meyer himself, billed as “Hitchcock,” is among the rabble). Rafe gets carried away and gets axed by Homer (remember him?), but survives long enough to reciprocate. Gallons of deep cadmium red and ploopy sound effects ramp up this mean-spirited, chainsaw to the crotch of a cartoon, which occasionally seems a precursor to Sam Raimi.

Up! (1976, Russ Meyer)

Before things get too out of hand, Natividad splashes through the tulips, crying again, “a murder most foul has been committed.” Winchester already knows, because she is an undercover detective. Both Paul and the bi-sexual Alice lust after Winchester, prompting a duel (return of the dildo) and, finally, uncovering the identity of Hitler’s assassin. The finale, shot and edited like future music videos, is a frenzied marathon of sex and violence run amok.

Up! (1976, Russ Meyer)
References to Citizen Kane (1941), Psycho(1960), and John Ford’s cavalry westerns abound. It is surprising that Up! is not better known. De la Croix  is femme fatale comparable to Tura Satana (both break the backs of lesser men). Woods and Natividad fill out the remaining trio of magnetic leads. Natividad went onto have a long personal relationship with Meyer, until her entry into hardcore sex films prompted a breakup (although they remained friends until his death). Up! may be Meyer’s most pronounced rebellion against the status quo.

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About Alfred Eaker

Alfred Eaker is a fine arts painter, an award-winning independent filmmaker, and has a masters of theological studies in the arts. His Masters thesis was: "Justification By Imagination.The Marian Art Of Thomas Merton." For nine years, he has been a film critic (for 366 Weird Movies). His essays for that site have been published in the yearbooks and quoted in various film biographies. He is the author of the forthcoming novel, "Brother Cobweb." He currently lives in Gresham, Oregon where he performs his character, Brother Cobweb at The House Of Shadows.