by Steve Kirkham
Blu ray. Single Disc. 88 Films
Pets is an odd little concoction which you might assume from the most commonly seen poster (two girls in collars and chains) was just another horror movie from the 70s (or, given 88 Films bizarre choice of main cover image of a tongue licking a boot that it was an S&M sleazethon – maybe they were just echoing one of its alternate titles Submission). What it is is a sexploitation movie with horror overtones – using a script by director Raphael Nussbaum (no I have never heard of him either) and Richard Reich, it is apparently based on a play by Reich. Leading one to wonder was it ever performed – especially given some of the scenes in the movie (though it was the 70s!). On further investigation apparently it played at the Provincetown Playhouse, off Broadway, in May of 1969 as the third part of three one act plays by Reich for 15 performances. Like a play, the movie has something of a three act structure…
There be mild spoilers ahead –
Escaping from the clutches of her brutish brother, Bonnie (captivatingly played by Candice Rialson in her first lead role), is alone on the mean streets of LA – in the first portion she hooks up with bad girl Pat (Teri Guzman) as they stick up a rich guy on the beach – though things don’t go quite as Bonnie expected and she soon realises her new found friend is not to be trusted. Cue act two wherein she is taken in by artist Geraldine (Joan Blackman – an actress known for her roles in the 60s in such films as Blue Hawaii and Kid Galahad). She begins as her artistic muse but they soon become lovers – until that is there is a break-in at the house and Bonnie has sex with the miscreant instead of ejecting him! Finally in act 3 we tip into horror territory – Bonnie has left Geraldine and taken up with creepy, sleazy Vincent… just don’t go into the basement of his big flashy house! Art dealer Vincent is essayed by Ed Bishop of all people – one can only assume that being the lead in Gerry Anderson’s tv show UFO hadn’t done much for his career… and is that another dodgy wig or Ed’s real hair?
Candice Rialson captures both the naïveté and determination of the free spirited, free loving, sexy Bonnie and for much of the film – whilst it has its dark moments – this is actually a quite chirpy little movie – including a sunny, happy song that is played several times throughout. The acting is good and it is well shot for a lower rung production (though I did spot at least one microphone popping into frame!). This is much more a soft core sexcapade than anything else – with plentiful nudity on the way. It does finally dive into full on depravity in its closing minutes but never really delivers on what one might have expected.
Crisp and colourful – it’s was taken from several 35mm prints to make up this presentation. Presumably this is the same master as used by Vinegar Syndrome and there is no noticeable variance in quality.
Extras are few –
You get the movie with subs should you need them.
There’s a fairly interesting 15 minute interview called appropriately Brotherly Love as its with Mike Cartel who not only played Bonnie’s sibling in the opening scenes but also worked on the production side of things.
A very brief alternate title sequence gives us One-Night Stand as a variant.
The stills gallery (which along with the main menu has that carefree song as a music bed) has various quite explicit lobby cards for the West German release (as Animal Women/Die Animalischen Frauen) and a smattering of posters.
And to cap it off a trailer which – unusually for these kinds of things – is in good nick.