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Director/co-writer Rapheal Nussbaum and co-writer Richard Reich (the latter adapted his Off-Broadway play) craft an arrestingly seamy, deviant and provocative treat that's a good deal more than just your run-of-the-mill grimy skinflick. Granted, there's more than enough sizzling soft-core sex (Bonnie does just what you think with the bound Dan and forces a hunky prowler who breaks into Geraldine's house to make love to her) and tasty bare female flesh to appease the viewer's more prurient appetites, but underneath the trashy exploitative elements one can discern an oddly affecting melancholy meditation on the need to belong and latch onto something (the recurring folkie theme song "Searching" is especially sad and poignant). Every person Bonnie meets uses and/or abuses her in one way or another, thus making the unfortunate rootless and wandering gal feel more increasingly forlorn and alienated. The movie concludes on a hauntingly ambiguous note which suggests that Bonnie may have made the tragic transition from victim to victimizer. Popping up in nifty bit parts are character actors Roberto Conteras as a creepy gardener and Berry Kroeger as an art connoisseur. The polished cinematography by Richard McGarty and Mark Rasmussen gives the picture an attractive sunny look. Jorge Del Barrio's groovy score hits the right-on funky spot. Essential viewing for die-hard aficionados of 70's grindhouse cinema at its most gloriously bizarre and depraved.
** 1/2 (out of 4)
Bonnie (Candice Rialson) ran away from home but her older brother is forcing her back. When Bonnie gets her chance she escapes from him and heads back out on her own where life takes her in a few different directions and with a few different strange people.
PETS is a film that tells you a little of what to expect just by looking at its poster. The poster with a scantly clad lady is clearly telling people that they're walking into a sexploitation film but if you're expecting all T&A and nothing else then you might be disappointed because PETS actually tries to be a character study and I think for the most part it works well.
There's no doubt that the greatest thing about the picture is the performance of Rialson. Is she in the same league as Meryl Streep? Of course not but then again this type of film isn't asking for that type of performance. I thought the actress was very believable in the part and there's no question that she was very easy on the eyes and this here made the sexploitation works flawlessly. Her character has to act with several others and there's no doubt that Rialson just controls the film throughout.
There's no doubt that the film does have some flaws including a few characters that aren't all that interesting but at the same time the movie delivers a rather interesting look at a runaway and the various bad situations she finds herself in. Is PETS a masterpiece? No but it's at least entertaining and worth watching.
It is not a white chick & black chick ride through the night kind of sleazy buddy film that the DVD version seems to be sold as.
It is not particularly well made, the DVD source print is among the worst you'll see (though still worth watching if). It's not amateur time but it's pretty rough around most edges production. The paintings featured are well done and the topless portrait of Candace would be a great collectors item--where oh where is that now? It's better produced than other 70's drive in stuff but very limited in what it can afford to do. Climax which potentially could involve a live tiger ends very quickly for example.
The music is a "Everybodies talking' at me" attempt at ballads and then no score at all. Which hurt as the movie seems to lose energy by the end. In fact the first nearly 40 minutes consists of about 4 scenes one of which lasts at least 15 minutes. So it's not fast paced exploitation, this is fairly low budget affair, don't expect any car crashes.
You can expect some nudity and you'll get it and be pretty happy with what you get. Star Candace does well in the part and certainly willing to go all out when required. Ed Bishop is fun but doesn't really get to cut loose as much as you might hope during the last section of the film.
Not much prolonged violence in this film and it has less and less exploitation as it goes along. Again it's worth a watch if you're in the mood, just know what it is and isn't. The film does take its' time with story, the characters aren't very deep. You think that's a flaw? Well it wouldn't be except that's sort of what you're left with in this film after awhile. It may well have some aspirations to be sort of a "Sleazy Rider" only all of it takes place within about 30 minutes drive of Malibu and Santa Monica. A few nice views of some old rotting piers that are now gone from the coast line. Some 70s music score would have helped sounds like they had to buy canned music and again not very much music other than the songs, which are kind of fun in a bad way. Mostly this film is for fans of Candace or may help create new fans of hers. Certainly this works better than the wretched CHATTER BOX. You can see why she stopped making movies with titles like that in her resume. But this is early on and she seems ready to be a cool 70's chick in exploitation movies which sort of did and sort of didn't happen for her.