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Blu-Ray review: Beyond the Valley of the Dolls

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Arrow Video, the masters of making highly collectible and stacked to the gills with bonus material extra-special special editions, turn their attentions to the strange and swinging seventies melodrama “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls”. A trippy look at Los Angeles, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is directed by totally confirmed boobs man Russ Meyer, and written by Roger Ebert.

After being unappreciated playing a Senior Prom, an all-girl rock group decide to head to LA in pursuit of fame and fortune, but the three’s lives are irrevocably affected by a heady cocktail of sex, drugs and greed.

Meyer’s predilection for amply bosomed ladies is in full effect, but given a shot and a budget by a Hollywood studio, Meyer’s is clearly keen to ensure Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is not JUST a trippy trip to Bouncy Boobs Town. Soap opera storylines with knowingly side-achingly awful and awkward lines weave in and out of a nightmarish look at show business that is also sometimes a rock musical, and at others a horror movie.

The picture is nice and clean throughout, with a high bitrate encode retaining all the film’s grain. The psychedelic colour palette is served well, with all the crazy colours constantly popping and no video artefacts present at all. The original English mono audio is the only audio track for the actual film itself, which is nice, but a new 5.1 mix might have been nicer – and better served all the cool musical performances.

There is a music and effects only audio track, which is odd and redundant, as well as two audio commentaries. The film’s writer, and legendary film reviewer, Roger Ebert’s chat track is excellent and the perfect mix of anecdotal, fact-filled, loving and enthusiastic. A selection of the film’s cast provide a commentary too, and hearing the guys and gals rediscover each other and the film they all starred in together is cute and fun.

Being an Arrow release, there’s also a bajillion other bits to dig into: Meyer’s second (and final) Hollywood film, The Seven Minutes, comes on a separate DVD; John Lazar has recorded a special introduction to the disc; “Sinister Image” is a 1987 Russ Meyer interview; “Above, Beneath and Beyond the Valley” is a making of; “Look On Up at the Bottom” is a look at the film’s music; “The Best of Beyond” sees a selection of the film’s cast and crew revealing their favourite moments and lines of dialogue; “Sex, Drugs, Music and Murder” is a look at the counter-culture that spawned the film; and stars Erica Gavin and Cynthia Meyersfondly recall their love scene in “Casey and Roxanne: The Love Scene”. Elsewhere there are also some screen tests, trailers, and photo galleries. The disc itself is a limited special edition of 3,000 copies and comes with a booklet and reversible sleeves.

A well stacked and stocked release of a far out cult classic, the Arrow Blu-Ray of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is a happening and groovy package that will tweak and freak you out, baby.

4-out-of-5

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