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  Pets Brought To Heel
Year: 1974
Director: Raphael Nussbaum
Stars: 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
Genre: Drama, Thriller, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Tonight Bonnie (Candice Rialson) is in her brother's car, and they are having an argument because he knows she wants to get away and he won't let her. They stop near a diner and she complains of being hungry, so he grudgingly alows her to go and get something to eat, but as she does a car full of hoodlums drives up behind the brother and toots their horn to get past. He doesn't appreciate that, and makes them a gesture that they don't appreciate, leading to a ruckus where Bonnie sees her chance to escape. Her brother briefly catches the girl, but the hoodlums aid her in her flight by beating him up when she says she only met him that afternoon...

So begins a curious, loosely three-part exploitation effort which posits the theory that people are either owners or, well, pets in regard to their relationships. Bonnie, as our lead character, is in the position of being pet to a selection of people she meets on her aimless journey through the next few days as she is taken advantage of, yet also looked after by, a variety of personalities who all represent the owner type. This was drawn from a controversial though now forgotten play by Richard Reich, who performed screenwriting duties here along with the German trash director Raphael Nussbaum.

What they came up with sounds as if it should be more offensive than it is, mainly because you cannot take the psychology it employs very seriously. Yes, there are those who are more easily led than others, and those who are happy to lead them, but very few go to quite the lengths that the two people who Bonnie meets in the latter two-thirds of the film would. For the first third, she joins a petty criminal called Pat (Teri Guzman), who she tags along with when she invites her into the car of a middle-aged man (Dan Daubrey) they meet on the beach. He thinks he is taking two foxy chicks to a different beach, but Pat has a surprise for him when she pulls a gun on him.

Ordered to turn off onto a secluded road, the man is then tied up and forced to give up his housekeys to the domineering Pat, who then zooms off in his car, still with his dog in it, back to his place to liberate any cash he might have around the place while Bonnie stays and holds him at gunpoint. She sees this as serving the man right for hoping to have his wicked way with both of them, which doesn't quite explain why she ends up having sex with him while he still in bondage, other than there being a sadomasochistic aspect to some of what we see. A lot of this comes across as depicting the fantasies of the writers more than any searing insight into the human condition, frankly.

Next up Bonnie meets with an artist, Geraldine Mills (Joan Blackman, who, like Daubrey had a couple of Elvis Presley movies on her C.V.), who wants to capture her - in oils, as well as literally as she becomes a mother figure to the girl. And to complicate matters, she turns lover to her as well, but there's another character hoving into view, played by the unlikely figure of television stalwart Ed Bishop, here as a rich art dealer and gallery owner who is interested in both Bonnie and Geri. No matter that the painting of Bonnie would be something Hugh Hefner might have second thoughts about hanging in his mansion, the point is soon to be laid on with a trowel, though not before Geri shows just how determined she can be to ensure her new model sticks around. It all ends in Ed spouting ludicrously sexist dialogue as he shows Geri around his private zoo, which includes a squirrel, a racoon, a tiger and, oh, and Bonnie. An willfully odd effort all round, Pets won't convince you, but it might entertain you in a puzzling manner. Music by Jorge Del Barrio.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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