Written by: Carroll Jenkins on January 17th, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1974
Director: Raphael Nussbaum
Writers: Raphael Nussbaum, Richard Reich
Cast: Ed Bishop, Joan Blackman, Candice Rialson, Teri Guzman, Brett Parker, Matt Green, Mike Cartel, K.T. Stevens, Roberto Contreras, Berry Kroeger, Rodney Wallace, George Wells, Chuck Wells, Yvonne Alaniz, Walton Dornisch
DVD released: October 13th, 2009
Approximate running time: 103 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Code Red
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.98
Synopsis: Bonnie runs away from her dominant brother and into a series of diverse relationships and adventures.
This is a great trash sleaze epic, and the first feature film role for Candice Rialson. Her acting is very natural, and she’s believable as the object of desire for everyone in the film (and the audience). She spends lots of time topless and looks great throughout. It’s easy to see why she was soon picked up by major indie New World Pictures (Candy Stripe Nurses).
Based on a play, this aspect carries through with the carefully scripted dialog that is thought provoking on multiple levels. The underlying theme is dominance and submission, both physical and psychological. The UK title Submission is more representative of the film as a whole than the Pets moniker.
Producer, director, and screenwriter Raphael Nussbaum was able to bring his vision to the screen as a project rather than a product. This control shows in the care given props, sets, and locations, even down to small details. The cinematography is excellent and greatly contributes to the flow of the film. Candice gets lots of support from veteran television actors Ed Bishop and Joan Blackman, and novice Teri Guzman (Women Unchained) convincingly plays an opportunistic and streetwise predator in contrast to Candice’s naive ‘babe in the woods’.
It’s a good thing that this is a sleazy trashy grindhouse classic, because that’s exactly how it looks. A disclaimer regarding the condition is quite justified as this print has certainly been screened to death and stored improperly. Lots of emulsion lines, jump cuts, color fluctuations, soundtrack distortion. Even so, the anamorphic widescreen presentation has sharp detail and clarity, and the presentation looks and sounds good more than it doesn’t. No closed captions or subtitles. The extras include the battered trailer and two very damaged but inconsequential deleted scenes (looking more like nitrate than safety stock).
If the source were on the level of The Candy Snatchers (Subversive) or even The Wild Riders (BCI) this would be one of the standout drive-in DVD releases. Nevertheless, Pets has enough energy, intelligence, subversion, and Candice Rialson to warrant multiple viewings.