From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< Vixen

Vixen was a commercial and critical hit. It earned around $8 million dollars at the box office against a budget of $70 thousand, which for 1968 was very impressive. This success, Meyer claimed, was due to the film's popularity with female audiences. On the critic side, Roger Ebert hailed it as the best skin flick to date and both The New Times and Los Angeles Times wrote positive reviews.

The story here, or, rather, what passes as a story here, centers around the sexual conquests of nymphomaniac Vixen (Erica Gavin - Caged Heat). She is the wife of a Canadian bush pilot and while he's away, Vixen likes to play.

There isn't a plot here so much as a parade of characters who cross Vixen's path. When the film opens she is having her way with a Mountie, and after being mounted by the Mountie, she runs across her brother and his friend Niles. Niles is an African-American and a draft dodger. Vixen doesn't like him much and flings a few racist barbs his way. He shrugs them off, but she hits a nerve when she accuses him of being a coward.

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The brother tries to get the two to play nice, even suggests that Vixen might be interested in hooking up with Niles, but Vixen says she'd rather hook up with him, her own brother.

In any other movie, this would all be gross and off-putting, but you aren't watching any other movie. You are watching a Russ Meyer movie. And Russ was a master of keeping things light and fun.

Sure, the things these characters say to each other are outlandish and -- on paper -- offensive, but at no point will Russ let us take this seriously.

Vixen's clueless husband brings home a couple who will stay the weekend and Vixen is quick to comment on how attractive they both are.

What follows from here is Vixen's attempts and successes at seducing the couple. The seductions are on the kinky side for a Meyer film -- vixen dances seductively with a fish, convinces the woman the only way to see who has the better body is to compare them without clothes on, and at one point even beds her own brother.

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Like all Meyer women, Vixen is aggressive, but she goes beyond the typical Meyer aggressiveness and is more visceral and animalistic. She makes grunting sounds, she barks out orders -- it's easy to see why people responded to her.

The film ends with a rather strange, yet highly enjoyable, argument between the draft-dodger Niles, the racist-language-spewing Vixen, and a communist who is hijacking the husband's bush plane. What's interesting here is that Russ, despite being a true-blue patriot and a bit of a square, clearly didn't see the draft-dodger as the bad guy. The communist was the bad guy and the draft dodger's points about America not living up to its responsibilities towards African Americans were entirely reasonable.

All that being said, despite this film being a well-loved critical favorite, it's a bit middle-of-the-road for me as a long-time Meyer fan. For a Meyer film that tries to have a story, it's less engaging than Lorna, Mudhoney, or Motorpsycho. As a film that relies on dialogue, the dialogue here is less snappy than the Jack Moran scripts for Faster Pussycat or Good Morning...and Goodbye. Vixen isn't as zany as Supervixens. And there are only two women in this movie. They are both beautiful, but there are only two of them and they are not as -- ah, let's say "larger than life" as many Russ Meyer women.

Still though, for fans and newcomers, the movie is worth watching. It's just that when I feel like a Russ Meyer film, Vixen's aren't the one I reach for.

I mean, Vixen isn't the one I reach for.

Rob McGee has written comedy and short stories for The American Bystander, Sammiches and Psych Meds, and a number of other funny places online and off. You can follow him on YouTube.

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