Exploitation Theater: Candice Rialson in Pets (1974)

“Eddie here’s a real sensitive dude. Especially when some jive-ass  honky near wipes out his ride!”
The great thing about the 70’s is that they were so openly sleazy with their esthetic. Sometimes it was sleazy for sleazy’s sake, but it always seemed natural. Sexuality and violence was just so matter of fact back then and it always appeared to be a part of everyone’s lives, no matter how normal they were. When I went to the movies or watched them on TV, I didn’t see much difference. Every film seemed like just another day, which is weird when you think about a film like 1974’s Pets.

Pets is the story of Bonnie (Candice Rialson). An abused teen who escapes the brutal clutches of her brother when he runs afoul of a carload big black guys and a beat down ensues. She soon hooks up with Pat (Teri Guzman), a street hustler who is crazy like a fox. Pat is dominant and it would seem that Bonnie has fallen into the same situation.  Bonnie is a woman searching for strength and independence. She jumps from one partnership to another in search of a way of finding happiness or some sort. All she ends up with is pain. Each situation she jumps into seems like a positive for about 5 seconds before it turns ugly.

Because of how the film is structured, it is difficult to describe as a narrative. It is really a series of vignettes with Bonnie the common thread. The film has been compared to both Centerfold Girls and Barn of the Naked Dead (Reviewed HERE), and with good reason, yet the film surpasses both in almost every way. The world is about dominance and submission in its most obvious form. The world is dominant and Bonnie, its submissive pet. Her desire, her quest, is to turn the tables on that world and own it.
Candice Rialson was one of the great darlings of 70’s cinema that is no longer with us. She had that great southern California look with out coming off like just a simple fun loving beach bunny. She had an edge and strength that she brought to every role! No else in the film is fleshed out enough (Pun intended) to make a lasting impression but it doesn’t matter, this is Candice’s showcase and she makes the most of it!
The film is the story of one woman embracing her sexuality and finding her place in it. Is it raw? Absolutely. Is it sexy? Without question. Is it just Exploitation without substance? Not at all! Should you see it? HELL YES! You’ve read enough. You have your homework, get to it!


Other Horrific Musings:

C.B. Hustlers (1976)

Truck Stop Women (1974)

Bikers vs. Bigfoot! Dear God No! (2011)