Monday, July 12, 2010

"Pets" review

Pets (1974)

Director: Raphael Nussbaum
Writers: Raphael Nussbaum

Ed Bishop ... Victor Stackman
Joan Blackman ... Geraldine Mills
Candice Rialson ... Bonnie (as Candy Rialson)
Teri Guzman ... Pat (as Teri Guzmán)
Brett Parker ... Dan Daubrey
Matt Green ... Ron the Burglar
Mike Cartel ... Bonnie's Brother
K.T. Stevens ... Mrs. Daubrey

Bonnie, (Candy Rialson), is being dominated. Her brother tries to control her but she breaks away from him so she can set off on her California adventure. While walking on the beach, she runs into a black woman who shows her the art of hustling old white guys. They rob and humiliate him but Candy is nice enough to give her mark some post larceny sex. Bonnie moves on from hustling and into the loving arms of a lesbian painter. Bonnie agrees to be a model for Geraldine and eventually becomes her lover. Geraldine wants to control Bonnie in every aspect of her life but she doesn't want to be dominated. Exasperated, Bonnie sneaks a man in to have sex with but Geraldine takes offense to this and blows the man away. Bonnie doesn't appreciate her lovers being murdered and hits the road again. This time she falls for the charms of a depraved art collector who wants to break Bonnie's will. He wants to make her his pet. Bonnie is kept in a cage with the other animals in his collection but it won't be long before he finds out that Bonnie can't be broken.

"Pets" is a very interesting movie. It's basically a sexploitation movie but it's clearly trying to be a little more than that. I bought the DVD because I thought it was going to be a Candy Rialson B-movie sadomasochism showcase. But "Pets" is more interested in exploring themes of domination and submission rather than any sort of sleazy scenes of whips and leather. Although there's a few of those scenes in here as well.

"Pets" is impossible to describe without giving away the whole movie. It's broken down into three parts. The first has Bonnie dominating and taunting the old guy on a hill while her partner in crime ransacks his house. The second act has Bonnie being dominated by her older lesbian lover. The last part has Bonnie being caught in a a sadomasochistic web by a freak with his own private zoo. It's this last part of the movie that the filmmakers have advertised as their main sleaze selling point. As you can see, it worked on me.

But the real selling point of "Pets" is Candy Rialson. She is the ultimate California blonde. "Pets" would not be as much fun to watch without her in it. The movie follows her Malibu adventures as she goes from one dominating situation to the next. Candy is frequently naked in the movie and each scene is a treasure. It's easy to see why everyone Candy meets wants to control her.

So if you need some 70's sexploitation in your life, "Pets" is worth watching. As an added bonus, the movie is presented in horrible shape but that only adds to its sleazy charm. A warning at the beginning of the DVD assures the viewer that this was the best copy of the movie they could get but to not let that stop you from enjoying it. I just wish I had a time machine so I could have watched this in a 70's Times Square theater with some fellow B-movie fans. That feels like the right decrepit environment to get the most out of watching "Pets".

SCORE: 3 out of 4 Candy pets

Candy Candy Candy. I can't let you go.


Hold Me Matt said...

Hmmm. What's that other 70s movie where the hot brunette is kept in a demented/rich man's horse stable?

Dr. Gore said...

I don't know but I wish I did. Sounds interesting.

the sneering (homo-phobic) snob said...

Candy was the art student in "The Eiger Sanction" (1975) and Eastwood let her get away from him (on film) but i bet he buggered her senseless off camera the fucking lucky bastard.

Michael Whiteacre said...

I penned the definitive Candice Rialson bio for Femme Fatales magazine back in 1993. Found her alive and well and living in Palmdale. She still had "it," as I recall telling an enthralled Quentin Tarantino in the mid '90s. QT then told me that Candice inspired the Bridget Fonda character in jackie Brown, Melanie. Although the character doesn't have a last name in the credits, on the door buzzer outside her apartment building, the listing is for "M. Ralston."

Candice was gorgeous, funny, and exemplified the classic '70s California free-spirit. Pets was her first starring role, and was followed by Candy Stripe Nurses for New World. Eastwood, who then as now thought of himself as an independent filmmaker working within the studio system, would often go see B and drive-in movies, which is where he saw Candice, as well and Jocelyn Jones who later appeared in The Enforcer.

Candice passed away a few years ago of liver disease, and I miss her terribly. She was special and unique in so many ways. Among my most prized possessions is my autographed Hollywood Blvd poster, which I also got signed by co-directors Joe Dante & Allan Arkush, the late Paul Bartel, Mary Woronov, Roger Corman, producer Jon Davison.

Dr. Gore said...

Very cool you got to meet Candice Rialson. Also interesting you were hanging out with Tarantino. You'll have to tell me the context of that talk.

Candy Rialson looked like she was a classic California blonde. Good to hear she was a cool person. Nice signed poster too. That's got to be worth some money to collectors.

I'm ashamed to say I never saw "Candy Stripe Nurses". I will have to keep the Candice film festival going. RIP Candy.

Michael Whiteacre said...


When I moved out here in September '93, my Candice Rialson piece was in many ways my calling card. It was a good article, featuring quotes from tons of people. I called everyone I could think of who had known or worked with her, including a bunch of folks who subsequently became quite successful -- directors Joe Dante, Allan Arkush, Mark L. Lester and Jonathan Kaplan, producer Jon Davison -- plus Julie Corman, Candice's former agents, and tons of her co-stars, from "Candy Stripe Nurses" to "Chatterbox." Fortunately for me, everyone had really liked her, and they were all quite curious about what had become of her. (The conventional wisdom of the time was that she was dead -- she had done quite the disappearing act.)

When I went to visit Arkush in LA, to thank him in person for his help (I had interviewed him by telephone) and generally to shoot the shit, he told me he needed another copy of the Femme Fatales article: Tarantino had been by, and when Arkush showed him the Rialson piece, QT had to have it that minute. He thought it was awesome that there was an article about Candice in a contemporary movie magazine -- and he took it with him. I ran into QT months later at some event and introduced myself. I also remember discussing Cheryl "Rainbeaux" Smith with him (I informed him the obscure fact that Bobby Carradine had delivered her son). I've run into him fewer than a dozen times since, but on one occasion a few years later (after the release of Jackie Brown) he told me the story I related above.

There are better Candice Rialson movies than "Candy Stripe Nurses." I recommend "Mama's Dirty Girls," "Hollywood Blvd." and "Stunts" (although her role in the latter is very small, it's easily her best performance. "Moonshne County Express" is quite a good movie (and also features Claudia Jennings), but Candice's role is miniscule. She was dating one of the grips (who had also worked on "Hollywood Blvd.") and took a tiny part essentially to get to go on location with him.

Dr. Gore said...

Nice work. Couldn't have had a better calling card than Candice Rialson. Unless you had a full expose on Sybil Danning. Like "My days and nights with Sybil". I like to dream. Can't you tell?