Beyond the Valley of the Dolls DVD: Review By Brian Gallagher

A better plot than the original with some decent performances by the main trio.
  • OVERALL
    1.5
    POOR
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE GOOD
A better plot than the original with some decent performances by the main trio.
THE BAD
Terrible dialogue and characterizations, a looney-bin ending that makes you wonder what the crap you just watched, and some boring special features.
THE FEATURE
After trudging through the supposed-classic flick Valley of the Dolls, I of course was a tad skeptical about this unofficial sequel, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. The good news is that these flicks are vastly different. The bad news is, while it's better than the original, it certainly isn't that good.

The flick is certainly similar in tone and themes, as they both deal with three young women's troubles in dealing with the party life of booze and drugs, along with their relationships. But this flick is vastly different in that it deals mostly with the hippie culture and the "dolls" that were so prevalent in the first flick, only get one small mention in this flick. Besides, they have many other drugs to worry about besides sleeping pills.

The three young women in question are also very different as well. Instead of being fairly distant friends, they're all in a rock group together, and have a seemingly strong bond... that naturally gets broken. The women all have fairly decent performances, with Dolly Read doing well in the lead as Kelly McNamara, the gorgeous Cynthia Myers in an underused role as Casey Anderson and Marcia McBroom in a near-cameo as Petronella "Pet" Danforth. Myers seemed to be the most talented out of the trio, and I wondered why they didn't use her more, but oh well. My favorite performance in the movie, though, comes from one of the "guys." John Lazar is just way out there as Ronnie "Z-Man" Barzell, a record producer with a penchant for lavish/wild parties and speaking like a Shakespeare understudy. He breathes some much-needed life into this flick that falters when it bores us with hippie cliches we've seen too many times before. Still, while his effort is valliant, his performance alone can't save this movie at all.

What's funny about this movie is the one person that got famous from this movie was the writer, but not because of his screenwriting, for his writing in another medium. The flick was written by Roger Ebert, one of three screenplays he's written and the only one where he didn't use a pseudonym. It's a good thing he scored big time with that critic's gig, because his screenwriting really isn't that good. He does some decent work with the plot, advancing it much better than the writers of the first flick, although the ending is just a little too weird. When the whole thing is done, you don't really get a clear idea of what this flick was really about, since it takes too many weird turns for the worse here. The characters here are very flawed, with terrible dialogue and a boring backstory.

If you compare this movie to the original, I'd have to say it's leaps and bounds better than the original. The problem comes when you compare this flick to everything else...
THE EXTRAS
We start off here with an Introduction by John Lazar who plays Z-Man in the flick. Don't waste your time... Anyway, the first feature keeps in the trend of the first Dolls DVD, in being way too flippin long. Above, Beneath and Beyond the Valley: The Making of a Musical-Horror-Sex-Comedy is a 39-minute featurette, complete with a prologue and epilogue that goes through the making of this flick, with interviews from Roger Ebert and many of the stars, producers along with other critics and such. Some of the prologue stuff is interesting, since we get an idea of how director Russ Meyer started in this business, but the rest is a complete bore, with people falling over themselves to praise this flick. We get some useful tidbits of info, like the studio battles over the X rating and other quandries, but most of it is pretty damn boring.

Look Up at the Bottoms: The Music of the Dolls is next, and it's a 10-minute piece on the musical element of the flick. Not quite as boring as the other piece, but still nothing great here.

The Best of Beyond is pretty boring too. It's just a bunch of people, in and out of the movie, talking about what they think are the best line, or any other aspect of the movie, like a pseudo-award show. Snore.

Sex, Drugs, Music and Murder: Signs of the Times, Baby has probably the best quote in the whole disc. Nathan Rabin, from the satirical newspaper The Onion said it best with "It's a product of its time," which is dead-on correct for me, since this flick is about as timeless as a 19-cent stamp. Anyway, this featurette takes a look at the real world back when this flick came out, and how it blends with the movie.

Casey and Roxanne: The Love Scene is just the two actresses, Cynthia Myers and Erica Gavin talking about their little love scene, and reminiscing and crap. Snore.

Z-Man's Far Out Party Favors has a few things for you to watch. There are three trailers, one teaser and two regular ones, and a few screen tests as well. There is also a bunch of Still Galleries for you to peruse.

There's a lot here in the features, and if you loved the movie, I'm sure you'll love the features... unlike me.
THE VIDEO
The flick is presented in the anamorphic widescreen format, in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio.
THE AUDIO
The sound is handled through the Dolby Digital format.
THE PACKAGE
They do a much better job with the packaging here than with the original. They have the big title card in the middle of the front cover, with a bunch of little multi-colored bubbles around it that have various shots from the flick, with the tagline at the bottom. The back cover is about the same as the original. They have a synopsis at the top, a shot of all three girls in the middle, with a brief critics quote to the right of them, with the special features and tech specs below that. Not too bad.
THE FINAL WORD
They do a much better job with this flick than they did with the original. The plot was more, well, plotty, rather than a jumbled convoluted mess of addiction and bad relationships. Still, they keep those main themes present, and while the flick may be structured in a better way, it still just isn't that good of a movie.

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