The Badass Hall Of Fame: Tura Satana

She was a superwoman - belted, buckled and booted. Tura Satana transcended film to become one of the most iconic badass women of all time.

Opening narration, Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

Tura Satana appeared in more than one film - mostly she played tiny bit parts or stripteased her way through the frame. But in Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, her sole lead, she made such a smashing impact that her place in film history and as a visual icon and symbol of a certain new, exciting modern woman is secure. In that still underrated movie, Satana plays the nigh demonic leader of a roving band of speed-crazy go-go girls who roam the desert throwing little outposts of male security out of balance and into confused and bleeding disarray. Throughout, director Russ Meyer uses his frame like his spiritual father Orson Welles did, suggesting a continually shifting, wildly supercharged ironic imagination at work.

The overriding visual asset of the film is Tura Satana; she is like a representative of a new, machine-tooled superspecies from the future, leaving all the demure, old-fashioned daddy’s girls obsolescent in her wake. Meyer foregrounds her like a superhero in a comic book frame. While she may be the villain of the piece, there’s no doubt that she’s the camera’s hero. And it’s clearly evident that in the years since she has assumed a position in the de facto Book Of Saints among strong, independent thinking women.

Her performance in the film justifies it all. If she had just stood in frame and declaimed her lines lazily it would have been enough for the audiences of the day but she really gives of herself. She is so much smarter than the men that the difference creates sarcasm. She is ludicrously superior, a seductive vision of the venus of the future (is it merely coincidental that she’s half-Japanese?). It’s the kind of performance that creates type-casting because, after we’ve met this woman, how can we be deprived of her?

She never had the career she deserved, come to think of it a lot of smart, capable women of her era and before didn’t either, but fortunately Faster rewards multiple viewings. It has the sparseness, simplicity and power of myth and Tura Satana is always there, in the desert, waiting for us.