|Index||9 reviews in total|
Starting off, here's a synopsis: Porno queen Alta Lee (Lynn Lowry) is
murdered by her pornographer lover Max (George Shannon) in a game of sexual
Russian roulette. Alta's other lover, icy lesbian casting agent Camila Stone
(Mary Woronov), provides an alibi for Max. But Camila has an agenda of her
own, and a plan involving the seduction of innocent actress Julie (Lynn
again) in a web of sexual mind games. When the lookalikes' identities are
sufficiently blurred, the stage is set for vengeance as passionate as the
most heated carnal encounter.
Though this movie is quite obscure and never got much attention, I find it to be a sexy, suspenseful gem. Cult goddess Woronov has one of her best-ever roles, and she and sexy-innocent Lowry play off each other well. The unsettling music provided by Gershon Kingsley, plus two original songs ("All-American Boy," "You Say You've Never Let Me Down") and the Jaynetts' "Sally, Go 'Round the Roses" compose a memorable soundtrack. Theodore Gershuny's direction is sharp, with everything photographed in muted earth tones that perfectly suggest unsavory business bubbling under society's upper crust. With tons of great New York atmosphere, Ondine (Woronov's friend and fellow Warholite) giving a great performance in a small role, and exotic Monique Van Vooren as Max's ex-wife in a comic sub-plot. This sub-plot, though amusing, looks like it belongs in another movie altogether. However, I'm not complaining, as the film is smooth even as it changes gears and is a hell of a lot more interesting that the erotic-thriller garbage currently being cranked out.
Trivia: Sugar Cookies was originally rated X (soft-core) and released by General Film Corporation in 1973. I am the proud owner of an original one-sheet poster--lucky me! In 1977, the movie was cut for an R and re-released by Troma Team, which now offers it uncut on videotape. Mary Woronov was the wife of Theodore Gershuny at the time, and was reportedly uncomfortable performing the graphic lesbian simulated sex scenes with him leering behind the camera. She can also be seen in two of his earlier productions, Kemek (1970) and Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972).
I am amazed Lynn Lowry never became a bigger star. She is beautiful in a unique way (not "movie star" beautiful; her beauty is much more natural) and actually manages to act (and act well!) despite the dreadful roles she is usually given. This is particularly the case in Sugar Cookies. Terrible movie no matter how you look at it. Unless you look at Lynn Lowry. It was her beauty, her charm, her grace, and yes her acting that kept me engaged throughout an otherwise dreadful experience. Mary Woronov is a good actress also, and she and Lowry played off each other well. Ladies & Gentlemen - you really have to check Ms. Lowry out! Her characters are always memorable, even in small roles such as the one Paul Schrader gave her in his remake of Cat People. Alas, we never did see this once budding talent be given the proper opportunities to fully develop her craft before our eyes. This is the only tragedy regarding Sugar Cookies that is worth discussing.
A very early Oliver Stone (associate-)produced film, and one of the first films in the impressive career of Lloyd Kaufman (co-founder and president of the world's only real independent film studio Troma, creator of the Toxic Avenger and, at the prestigious Amsterdam Fantastic Filmfestival, lifetime-achievement awarded filmmaker for over 30 years). Having raised the money for this film on his own, Lloyd wrote this script together with Theodore Gershuni in 1970 and in hindsight regrets having listened to advice to have Gershuni else direct the film instead of doing it himself. But back then he was still inexperienced in the business and it is probably because of decisions like these that he takes no nonsense from anyone anymore. Indeed it would have been interesting to see Lloyd's version of his own script - as one of the world's most original, daring, experimental and non-compromising directors he probably would have given it even more edge than it already has. But as it is we have the Gershuni-directed film. And weather it is due to the strong script, or the fact that he too is indeed quite a director of his own, SUGAR COOKIES is a very intelligent, highly suspenseful and well-crafted motion picture that deserves a lot more attention than it receives. The shoestring budget the small studio (this was even before Kaufman and his friend and partner for over 30 years now, Michael Herz, formed Troma) had to work with is so well handled that the film looks a lot more expensive, indeed does not have a "low budget" look at all. The story revolves around lesbian Camilla Stone (played by enigmatic Mary Woronow) and her lover who winds up dead through circumstances I won't reveal not to spoil a delightful story. This leads to a succession of plot-twists, mind games and personality reform that is loosely inspired by Hitchcock's Vertigo and at least as inventive. The atmosphere is a lot grimmer, though, and some comparisons to Nicholas Roeg's and Donald Cammell's PERFORMANCE come to mind. In this mix is a very original and inventive erotic laden thriller that keeps it quite unclear as to how it is all going to end, which, along with a splendidly interwoven sub-plot with a nod to Kaufman's earlier and unfortunately unavailable BIG GUSS WHAT'S THE FUSS, makes for a very exciting one-and-a-half-hour. Certainly one of the best films in Troma's library, and yet again one of those films that defy the curious fantasy that their catalog is one of bad taste. The DVD includes some recent interviews Kaufman conducts with Woronov and the other leading lady Lynn Lowry (later seen in George Romero's THE CRAZIES), thus giving some interesting insight in what went on during the making of this cult-favorite and a few hints of what would be different had Lloyd directed it himself. Highly recommended.
This movie is not schlock, despite the lo fi production and its link to Troma productions. A dark fable for adults. Exploitation is a theme of Sugar Cookies, and one wonders if the cast has not fallen prey to said theme. A weird movie with enticing visuals: shadows and contrast are prominent. Definitely worth a look, especially from fans of Warhol and stylish decadence. Through all the cruelty and wickedness, a moral, albeit twisted, can be gleamed.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A year before he founded Troma Studios, Lloyd Kaufman made the sexploitation offering "Sugar Cookies". And while the fact that "Sugar Cookies" is essentially a Troma movie before Troma is interesting from a historical viewpoint, the film itself is only slightly above average. As expected with this type of film, "Sugar Cookies" is thin on the plot. Here is the deal, a sleazy film producer kills an actress but makes it look like suicide. Her lesbian lover then goes out and seeks revenge. That's about it. As a general rule, sexploitation has aged the worst out of all the exploitation genres as it was superseded by the arrival of the porn film, thus rendering many films that would have been considered risqué during the 50's and 60's tame by the 70's. "Sugar Cookies" is a little better in this regard as it does contain a good deal of nudity as well as sex scenes, but it still comes across as being very tame. This wouldn't be as big of problem if this film wasn't so plagued with pacing issues. It really does creep along at a snail's pace at times. Still, there are a few things about "Sugar Cookies" I enjoyed. As far as the more exploitable elements go, the actresses in this movie are very hot and the sex and nudity is well done. As for more traditional elements go, "Sugar Cookies" is well acted and the script is better than I expected, In addition, the first 10 and last 10 minuets are well crafted and engaging, sadly however the rest of the film cannot live up to that, rendering the film above average at best. There certainly are worse sexploitation movies to watch, hell some of them are nearly unwatchable, but the genre also has better offerings as well.
Alta Leigh (Lynn Lowry) is a young actress killed by creepy film
producer Max Pavell (George Shannon) during a "game". Max's associate
Camila Stone (Mary Woronov) agrees to alibi for him while searching for
a suitable replacement for Alta. After a while, she seems to find just
the right person: Julie Kent (Ms. Lowry again), who's a dead ringer for
Alta. Eventually the naive Julie finds that these new people in her
life are more than a little twisted, and begins to get scared. While
this is going on, there are subplots such as the sexual misadventures
of Gus (Daniel Sador), the younger brother of Max's ex-wife Helene
(Monique van Vooren).
"Sugar Cookies" will likely be too slow and psychological for some tastes, but it's interesting and stands as a sharp contrast to the later productions of co-writer / executive producer Lloyd Kaufmans' Troma Studios. It's actually an intoxicating and moody mix of exploitation and art. Some of the music is rather nice, and everything is gorgeously shot by cinematographer Hasse Wallin. The story ultimately evolves into a practically two character drama as the bisexual Camila gets to know Julie and seduces her. If nothing else, this film is a solid vehicle for the charms of sexy cult actresses Woronov and Lowry (the latter receiving an "introducing" credit here); their admirers will appreciate how much flesh the two ladies bare, and absolutely love the steamy scenes with them later on in the film.
Woronov was married to the co-writer / director Theodore Gershuny at the time; he actually wrote the part of Camila with his wife in mind, and also around this time they (and Kaufman) worked on the horror film "Silent Night, Bloody Night". The editor Dov Hoenig went on to bigger and better things, cutting films such as "Thief" and "Heat" for Michael Mann as well as "The Crow" and "Under Siege".
Definitely recommended to those people interested in the artifacts of NYC's "underground" film scene of the period.
Seven out of 10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Adult film actress Alta (lovely Lynn Lowry) gets killed by sleazy sex
movie producer Max Pavell (well played to the slimy hilt by George
Shannon) while participating in a deadly psychological head game with
the scuzzball. Alta's casting agent lesbian lover Camilla (a superbly
chilly and calculating portrayal by Mary Woronov) befriends sweet and
naive innocent Julie (also Lowry), an aspiring actress who's a dead
ringer for the deceased Alta. Camilla cunningly plots to use Julie as a
means to exact revenge on Max.
Director Theodore Gershuny, who also co-wrote the daring and crafty script with Loyd Kaufman, boldly explores the dark and disturbing themes of deception, manipulation, and the dangerous power games arrogant and amoral adults play with each other simply because they can. Better still, Gershuny takes fine advantage of the New York City locations, neatly captures the lethally seductive seaminess of the 70's Big Apple porn underground milieu, and further tarts things up with a sly sense of spot-on stinging humor that pokes wickedly witty fun at pretentious smut peddlers with high-falutin' delusions of artistic grandeur (the audition sequence in which Camilla interviews a gaggle of pathetic no-talent wannabes in particular is a total riot). The ace acting from a bang-up cast helps a lot: Lowry really flexes her thespic muscles in a juicy dual role, Monique van Vooren vamps it up with venomous gusto as Max's bitchy ex-wife Helene, Ondine contributes a funny turn as catty homosexual Roderick, Daniel Sadur supplies amusing comic relief as tubby cross-dressing loser Gus, and Golden Age adult cinema favorite Jennifer Welles has a nice minor part as Max's kinky secretary. Hasse Wallin's pretty cinematography provides a sumptuous lush look. Kudos are also in order for Gershon Kingsley's eclectic, yet melodic score and the inspired use of the 60's girl group classic "Sally Go 'Round the Roses." As a tasty extra plus, both Lowry and Woronov bare their beautiful bodies with pleasing frequency. A superior soft-core erotic thriller.
In 1973, the year before Lloyd Kaufman formed Troma Studios in order to
churn out his particular brand of trashy low-budget B-movies, he helped
produce Sugar Cookies, an experimental sexploitation flick starring
Lynn Lowry (The Crazies, Shivers) as aspiring actress Julie Kent, who
is tricked by lesbian seductress Camilla (Mary Woronov) into helping
avenge the murder of her lover.
Loaded with dreadfully dull dialogue, languorous scenes of supposedly emotionally intense drama, and of course, plenty of nudity, this sort of ponderous, progressive, art-house styled erotic nonsense might have gone down well with a crowd of enlightened (ie., stoned), sexually liberated hippy types several decades ago, but will seem laughably dated to a modern audience. Even connoisseurs of cult cinema keen to see unconventionally attractive amazonian cult actress Woronov and frisbee-nippled Sissy Spacek-alike Lowry strip off and get it on will probably find this film a struggle.
Although not a particularly good film, it is still loads better than anything Troma released in the 80's. This is the one of the first releases by Troma, a few years after the laughable "The Battle of Love's Return". Lynn Lowry plays a dual role(and cannot act in either of them) as Alta, a woman murdered by adult film-maker Max, & Julie, an actress pursued by lesbian Camila(the leggy Mary Woronov). It might have been a better film had there been better acting and if a stupid sub-plot involving Max's ex-brother-in-law had been deleted.
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