December 9, 2004
Just try to stop these 'Lovedolls'
The works of punk filmmaker David Markey and the late Russ Meyer screen at the American Cinematheque this week.
'Desperate Teenage Lovedolls'
'Lovedolls Superstar Fully Realized"
By Kevin Thomas, Times Staff Writer
Two alternative filmmakers get successive tributes this week at the American Cinematheque. L.A. punk auteur David Markey and the late King of the Nudies, Russ Meyer. It's an appropriate pairing, for Markey's two low-budget "Lovedolls" films are demented homages to Meyer's "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" (1979), itself a lurid spoof of "Valley of the Dolls" (1967).
Made for a reported $250 and shot
on Super 8 in the seedy backyards, side streets and beaches of L.A. in 1984,
"Desperate Teenage Lovedolls" recalls early John Waters' movies; it's
sometimes funny, even hilarious, but it also meanders into tedium.
"Desperate" celebrates anarchic punker lowlife with mangy gusto, as three no-talent teens, Bunny (Hilary Rubens), Kitty Carryall (Jennifer Schwartz) and Patch (Janet Housden) form the Lovedolls and let nothing stop them from reaching the top. They dispatch with their manager (Steve McDonald) when he proves to be a rapist. Then they stand up to the She Devils, a switchblade-carrying gang led by one Tania Hearst (Tracy Lea). The offing of a frenzied and possessive mother prompts this exchange between two of the Lovedolls:
"Thanks for killing my mom."
"Hey, no problem."
The girls sling a lot of attitude and tough talk, and Markey, only 19 when he made "Desperate," sees the humor in it. Much of the cast was drawn from mid-'80s L.A. bands such as the Bangles, Black Flag and Redd Kross.
Shot in 1986 in Super 8-millimeter and recently "revitalized" (whatever that means) "Lovedolls Superstar" is more ambitious and coherent but also more self-conscious. The successful Lovedolls have now hit the skids: Bunny's dead, Kitty's a wino and Patch is leading a cult. But sure enough they regroup, with Cheeta Punkerton stepping in for Rubens to give fame another stab. McDonald returns as his dopey twin brother, Rainbow, a recent student of peace and love at the Freedom School in New Mexico. Lea returns as Hearst's mother, bent on revenge.
Inside jokes abound, and there are more rock cameos and dark plot turns. The U.S. president (Jello Biafra), for instance, promises the Lovedolls an intergalactic tour hoping they'll never return if they cull Patch's flock Jim Jones-style. The soundtrack might be the most notable part of the film, with incidental music by Paul Roessler, Andrew Weiss, Sim Cain, Mario Lalli, Abby Tavis, & Kristian Hoffman and songs by the Meat Puppets, Sonic Youth, Redd Kross and the Dead Kennedys.