DVD Revisits the Sixties in Steamy Satire of Sleazy Sexploits
The Sixties gave rise to a practically plot-free form of exploitation film which amounted to little more than a lame excuse to have curvy coeds cavort across the screen in assorted states of undress. Perhaps the king of this sleazy genre was Russ Meyer a purveyor of low-budget smut with suggestive titles such as “Eve and the Handyman,” “Naked Camera,” “Wild Gals of the Naked West,” “Heavenly Bodies,” and “Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!”
Viva pays homage to that sordid chapter in the annals of cinema in much the same way that Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez recently tipped their director’s caps to cheapo scary movies from the Fifties with their nostalgic double feature “Grindhouse.” This picture is the brainchild of Anna Biller, who not only wrote and directed her hilarious, hedonistic adventure, but stars in it as well.
The story is set in Los Angeles in 1972, which is where we find perky best friends Barbi (Biller) and Sheila (Bridget Brno), bored suburban housewives stuck in unsatisfying marriages. Not long past the point of departure, the former is left by her husband, Rick (Chad England), while the latter and her hubby (Jared Sanford) agree to go their separate ways.
This gives the curious girls free rein to indulge their every fantasy, from swinging to orgies to nudism to free love to prostitution. What’s best about Viva is the way in which the production faithfully conforms to the sensibilities of the aforementioned skin flicks, except perhaps for adding an anachronistic dash of refreshing female empowerment to the mix.
Otherwise, our exhibitionistic heroines incessantly involve themselves in nearly naked antics against a campy backdrop of appropriately gaudy color schemes reminiscent of the period. With the kinky action underscored by an appropriately seedy soundtrack, it all adds up to a trippy, tongue-in-cheek peep show.
Excellent (3.5 stars)
Running time: 120 minutes
Studio: Cult Epics/Ryko