Monday, 5 December 2011

I watch movies so you don't have to #3 - Pets, 1974 (warning: spoilers!)

So, this is one film I'd been wanting to see for quite some time and it was definitely an odd one. It's a sleazy piece of 70's exploitation weirdness of the best kind. The poster makes it look a lot worse than it actually is. Sure, it might be a bit dodgy at times and certainly wouldn't get made these days, but that's why 70's indie cinema is so fascinating. There were no rules and very few subject matters were taboo.

Pets was directed by a Raphael Nussbaum, but it doesn't seem to have done him any greater favours in the world of film. His imdb filmography as director post-Pets (or Submission as it was also called) includes things like When Sex Was A Knightly Affair and W.A.R. Women Against Rape,so I suppose it's no great surprise that I haven't heard of the man. Anyway, one good film is more than most directors manage, so the man deserves some credit.


It all kicks off with our lead girl Bonnie having an argument with her violent brother. There's not really any explanation of what the hell is going on between them, but he's not a particularly pleasant chap, that's for sure. But...our girl Bonnie outsmarts him and manages to get away. She does so by turning him over to a bunch of local gangsters. just can't beat that sisterly love.

Bonnie runs off into the night and we never see or hear from her brother again.

She has to spend the night at the beach, but lucky for her it looks like the climate is pretty good for that kind of thing.

In the morning she meets Pat, another drifter of sorts. They get off to a bad start, but soon become the bestest of buddies. They do a bit of flirting with a random jogger and are soon offered a ride in his fancy car. 

What he thought was going to be the best day ever, soon turns out to be his worst. The girls tie him up and force him to tell them his address, where he keeps his money etc. Pat's got a gun and she's not afraid to use it!

Neither is Bonnie! She's put in charge of the "hostage" as Pat drives over to his house to get the money. Bonnie reveals that the gun is actually a water pistol, but the hostage can't really do much about that now anyway. He's tied up pretty damn good.

What happens next is a bit weird. Pat does return, but after a bit of arguing about this and that she soon changes her mind and leaves Bonnie alone with the man. Bonnie doesn't seem to mind though. She decides to have her wicked ways with the tied up man...

...before running away...

But it's her lucky day and she doesn't have to run far! She is caught stealing an apple, but is saved by Geraldine Mills, an artist living in a nearby mansion. Geraldine asks Bonnie to move in and become her model. Bonnie happily accepts.

Geraldine starts to paint alot of Bonnie in the nude and soon enough her work is getting some attention in th elocal gallery. Creepy gallery owner Victor Stackman takes an interest in Geraldines paintings and buys this hang above his bed. Yes, he is developing quite a liking of young Bonnie.

Oh there's a lot of stuff going on. It soon becomes clear that Geraldine has "a thing" for Bonnie and at first  Bonnie is happy to play along. But what she really wants is a man and this makes Geraldine boil over with jealousy. One night they catch a burglar trying to break in to steal some food. Geraldine tries to call the police, but Bonnie innocently pretends that the man got away. But, oh no...she secretly hides him in her room and seduces him. 

Eventually Geraldine finds out and she's not she shoots the poor guy. All he wanted was some food, damn it.

Bonnie is a bit freaked out and doesn't really have any other option than to run away again. She's getting good at that!

I shouldn't really give too much away here. Bonnie hides over at creepy Victor's house and then the shit really goes down.

Geraldine comes over...and we learn a lot of unpleasant things about Victor...mainly about his attitude towards women.

Yup...he's got his own zoo...and he's not just keeping animals in there.

How is it all gonna end? Well, I'm not telling and you just have to find out for yourself...if you can track down a copy.

Pets is a well-crafted piece of 70's sleaze. It's very nicely photographed and the acting is pretty good. And it certainly keeps you guessing until the end. Guessing as in "where the hell is this going and what's that poster all about?" anyway. And yes, the poster is slightly misleading. The image is not from the film and is obviously created in order to exploit what is a very minor part of the film's plot. But, who cares? They used to do that shit all the time. There are a lot of holes in the plot and characters come and go without ever being heard from again. But it doesn't matter. Watching these kind of films is not really meant to be an intellectual exercise. What matters is that it's very entertaining and managed to keep my attention for 100 minutes. So, I'm just going to have to recommend it. Watch Pets. It's ace. And weird.

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