Sugar Cookies (1973)
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A very early Oliver Stone (associate-)produced film, and one of the first films in the impressive career of Lloyd Kaufman (co-founder and president of the world's only real independent film studio Troma, creator of the Toxic Avenger and, at the prestigious Amsterdam Fantastic Filmfestival, lifetime-achievement awarded filmmaker for over 30 years). Having raised the money for this film on his own, Lloyd wrote this script together with Theodore Gershuni in 1970 and in hindsight regrets having listened to advice to have Gershuni else direct the film instead of doing it himself. But back then he was still inexperienced in the business and it is probably because of decisions like these that he takes no nonsense from anyone anymore. Indeed it would have been interesting to see Lloyd's version of his own script - as one of the world's most original, daring, experimental and non-compromising directors he probably would have given it even more edge than it already has. But as it is we have the Gershuni-directed film. And weather it is due to the strong script, or the fact that he too is indeed quite a director of his own, SUGAR COOKIES is a very intelligent, highly suspenseful and well-crafted motion picture that deserves a lot more attention than it receives. The shoestring budget the small studio (this was even before Kaufman and his friend and partner for over 30 years now, Michael Herz, formed Troma) had to work with is so well handled that the film looks a lot more expensive, indeed does not have a "low budget" look at all. The story revolves around lesbian Camilla Stone (played by enigmatic Mary Woronow) and her lover who winds up dead through circumstances I won't reveal not to spoil a delightful story. This leads to a succession of plot-twists, mind games and personality reform that is loosely inspired by Hitchcock's Vertigo and at least as inventive. The atmosphere is a lot grimmer, though, and some comparisons to Nicholas Roeg's and Donald Cammell's PERFORMANCE come to mind. In this mix is a very original and inventive erotic laden thriller that keeps it quite unclear as to how it is all going to end, which, along with a splendidly interwoven sub-plot with a nod to Kaufman's earlier and unfortunately unavailable BIG GUSS WHAT'S THE FUSS, makes for a very exciting one-and-a-half-hour. Certainly one of the best films in Troma's library, and yet again one of those films that defy the curious fantasy that their catalog is one of bad taste. The DVD includes some recent interviews Kaufman conducts with Woronov and the other leading lady Lynn Lowry (later seen in George Romero's THE CRAZIES), thus giving some interesting insight in what went on during the making of this cult-favorite and a few hints of what would be different had Lloyd directed it himself. Highly recommended.
I checked this out on Netfux Instant Watch simply because I was curious to see what kind of role Mary Woronov played, which was again the 'sorta hot butchy bi-sexual' type that she seemed cast in numerous times in these low budget features from the 70's.
A pornographer's mind-games basically mind-fuck a model into killing herself, so Woronov seeks revenge by any means necessary. It's watchable if a bit over the top and far-fetched at different turns.
Worth a rental.
Directed by: David Dobkin
I'll be the first to admit, this movie had some hysterical moments. I especially liked the scene where Vince Vaughn got 'raped' by his...uhhh....girlfriend?
But the key to making good dumb comedies, is to do one of two things:
A. Make them so absured, so over the top, that it's just about the jokes and the absurdity of it all, i.e Wet Hot American Summer, Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle
B. You blend the humor with genuine emotion. Oh sure, it's bound to be oversentimental and sappy and stuff, but it needs some connection to reality, i.e. Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Sixteen Candles.
This one goes for B, but fails. It gets the jokes, but the sentementality and emotion is SO forced it's bad even for this type of a movie. The dialog when it's trying to create emotion is so bad, it doesn't even work on a manipulative level.
That said, the jokes are pretty funny. I watched this with a bunch of people last night with some popcorn and chips, and we could have done worse, although I wouldn't watch it again.
Directed by: Theodore Gershuny
This is apparently released by the Troma team, but it's quite a bit different, and better, then their 80's stuff. That isn't to say it's good, it's still pretty bad, just not quite bad on the same level.
I saw this for one reason: Lynn Lowry
She's probably best known for being in George Romero's 'The Crazies', but she's been in a few exploitation films, such as 'Score' and this film.
I think she's one of the hottest girls i've ever seen. So yah, that on top of the fact that I get a kick out of bad exploitation films, at least ones prior to 1990, is pretty much why I saw this.
Anyhow, this is a weird sexploitation/murder film about a porn director who kills one of his stars for kicks, and makes it look like a suicide. The star's lesbian lover sets out for revenge, and has a plot that involves finding someone who looks just like her, and...well, nevermind. The plot is rediculous, and really doesn't do much but create excuses for weird, elaborate games and people taking their clothes off.
That doesn't sound so bad, but unfortunately, they have this whole sub plot about the director's ex-brother-in-law (I guess, that's what IMDB said), which is really painfully stupid, even for a film of this sort, and screws everything up.
So yah, it's basically a really bad exploitation version of Vertigo, but with a great, quirkly looking woman in it, and add a really bad subplot.
Here's some pictures of Lynn Lowry:
Apparently, she's a Jazz Singer now. Cool. A bit too old for me now (she's about 59), but man, back in the day...
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