Friday night blight: Classic cult flicks on TCM

As Malinda pointed out this week, the powers that be at Turner Classic Movies aren’t very good at “pride” programming. But they do seem to understand cult movies. Tonight, during the wee hours (2:15 a.m. Eastern on Saturday, actually), TCM will air Russ Meyer’s Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and Mudhoney.

I haven’t seen Mudhoney (though I will now!), but I can tell you that Faster, Pussycat! is quite an experience. I’m not even sure how to describe it, but it’s safe to start with the word "trashy." The basic plot is that three go-go dancers hit the road and have all kinds of fascinating adventures.

However, no plot summary can prepare you for the crazed trip that is this movie. It’s the kind of gleeful mayhem Grindhouse hoped to capture, but I think this campy-yet-disturbing stuff is probably best enjoyed as ’60s and ’70s weirdness. As cultural artifacts, exploitation flicks are a guilty pleasure; as current postmodern fare, they quickly become hyper-aware and self-indulgent — all guilt, no pleasure.

Anyway, nobody did trash like Russ Meyer. If you’re not familiar with his oeuvre, give the TCM double feature a try. And then, if you want more, be sure to check out one of my favorites, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. It was co-written by Roger Ebert (yes, that Roger Ebert). "This is my happening, and it freaks me out!”

If you don’t have TCM, you can still enjoy the Faster, Pussycat! and Mudhoney videos on the TCM site. While you’re there, you can also see clips of Pam Grier in Coffy — "Now, Mr. King Dope Pusher, you’re gonna have a few irate customers pretty soon!"

Oh, one more thing: Harold and Maude is also screening on TCM. The next showing is Saturday night/Sunday morning at 2:30 a.m. And there’s nothing exploitative about Harold and Maude: It’s just a really great movie.

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