The Incendiary “Spring Breakers” – A Cultural Firebomb!
I saw this again recently and wanted to share some thoughts about
it – for those who haven’t seen it, “Spring Breakers” starred former Disney Channel stars Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens as two very bad girls – a transgressive film that holds up well today!
“Spring Breakers” was released in 2013, and caught Hollywood off guard with its surprisingly big box office. While it starred James Franco along with Hutchens and Gomez, it wasn’t expected to be a massive hit, but it used a LOT of negative publicity to actually become a big box office hit.
Here’s what Deadline.com’s Nikki Finke said about “Spring Breakers” at that time:
“this cheaply made ($2M cost) seamy sexploitation encouraging drinking and drugs and violence…and made sure the celebrity sheet cravenly hyped every angle of the lurid film and its cast”
“Seamy Sexploitation” Indeed!
It turns out that someone later claimed Finke never even saw the film, yet when she chose to denigrate the film by calling it “seamy sexploitation” – it helped! In fact, that’s a film genre that should be celebrated!
The Modern “Faster Pussycat!”
If you haven’t seen it yet, “Spring Breakers” is worth watching for a number of reasons – and you should watch it as a double bill with the “Citizen Kane” of Sexploitation! More on that in a moment…but first, this is Vanessa Hudgens in the film:
Yes, she is snorting cocaine off the body of a naked woman – provocative stuff, but there’s a reason why:
“Spring Breakers” was directed by Harmony Korine, who exploded onto the movie scene with his screenplay for the provocative film “Kids”, directed by Larry Clark. “Kids” was an incendiary tale of the sex and drug-fueled world of young teens in New York City.
“Spring Breakers!” A Social Phenomenon!
Korine has directed several cult films before, but none were major hits before “Spring Breakers” – and this wild look at young “spring breakers gone bad” became a cultural phenomenon.
Here’s the trailer:
Much was made of the fact that the film was a look at how “wild” spring break is – something that isn’t news, but the controversy came mostly from the provocative shots of the young, former Disney Channel stars!
“Spring Breakers” really touched a nerve, with its portrayal of young girls out of control on spring break. Of course, it’s much more than a comedy or a social satire – it’s also a thriller, especially when Jame Franco enters the picture:
To say more would do the movie a disservice, but it is a cautionary tale, a celebration of youth, a great crime thriller and unwittingly, a call to parents everywhere to lock up their daughters!
“Spring Breakers” evokes the era of sexploitation of the 60’s, when cultural rules were being broken, cinema’s taboos shattered, and a new era of genre filmmaking was upon us!
Here is the Wikipedia definition of Sexploitation:
“a class of independently produced, low-budget feature films generally associated with the 1960’s and serving largely as a vehicle for the exhibition of non-explicit sexual situations and gratuitous nudity.”
And what’s wrong with that?
These films shared a common theme – “good girls” who got mixed up with “bad men” who used and abused them – but one filmmaker at that time decided to turn the concept upside down and make the women not only sexually liberated – but empowered!
Spring Break’s Homage To Pussycats!
If you want to see where the inspiration for “Spring Breakers” came from, look no further than this masterpiece from Sexploitation Director Russ Meyer, who created the single most iconic sexploitation film EVER – the story of sexually empowered women who kicked ass!
Check out these ladies from “Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” This proud sexploitation gem celebrated wild women who were independent, stronger than any man, and ready to kick some ass!
The plot line was simple: Three strippers seeking thrills encounter a young couple in the desert. After dispatching the boyfriend, they take the girl hostage and begin scheming on a crippled old man living with his two sons in the desert, reputedly hiding a tidy sum of cash.
Meet Tura Satana!
It wasn’t just the title that was iconic – Meyer also introduced the world to one of the coolest, most iconic sexploitation stars of all time – wilder than any man!
“Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! introduced the world to Tura Satana, who become one of the biggest cult stars ever.
Satana’s most noted screen role was in “Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” as Varla –a very aggressive and sexual female character – and a role in which she did all of her own stunts and fight scenes.
Renowned film critic Richard Corliss called her performance:
“…the most honest, maybe the one honest portrayal in the Meyer canon and certainly the scariest.”
And look at this image: so timelessly COOL…
The Story Behind The Film’s Title!
You can actually buy “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! T-shirts – even lunch boxes! Russ Meyer named the movie like this because he claims that a movie has everything when it contains speed (faster), sex (pussycat) and violence (kill,kill). Who can argue with THAT?
To read more about Russ Meyer and his empowered women – and to see the film’s trailer, click here!
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Let me know if you saw “Spring Breakers!”
Categories: Artsploitation, Camp Cult Classics, Classic Action Films, Cult Classics, Exploitation Films, Grindhouse, JRsploitation, Nudity, Russ Meyer, sex kittens, Sexploitation Films, Talent / Celebrites