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15.1.09

Sugar Cookies (1973)



Director: Theodore Gershuny
Starring: Mary Woronov, Lynn Lowry,
Unrated Running time: 89 minutes
Released by Troma

Fresh out of Yale, future Troma mastermind Lloyd Kaufman and one-day Hollywood titan Oliver Stone teamed up to produce this sexploitation flick that owes a substantial creative debt to Hitchcock's Vertigo. In Sugar Cookies, Lynn Lowry plays a porn starlet who is murdered by a demented adult film producer named Max Pavel (George Shannon). This doesn't sit well with the icy, manipulative Camila (Mary Woronov) - Max's sometime sexual partner and, coincidentally, a lover of the murdered actress. Camila vows revenge, and after holding a porno casting call, meets Julia, who looks identical to Max's victim. Camila immediately befriends the double (Lowry again), and begins playing all kinds of sordid sexual mind games with the naive Julia. Once Camila is satisfied that Julia's head is sufficiently screwed up, she turns the innocent actress into a weapon of vengeance.

While not especially erotic, Sugar Cookies conjures a uniquely sleazy vibe; wall-to-wall nakedness and perverse characters captured against the backdrop of early 70's New York in all its unclean glory. Director Ted Gershuny (Silent Night, Bloody Night) has an interesting eye for visuals, but drops the ball when it comes to the film's pacing. A couple of unnecessary subplots (featuring Monique Van Vooren and Warhol star Ondine) slow the film to a crawl, and almost seem like they came from another movie. No matter - the film gets back on track and manages to generate some honest-to-god suspense for the final scene. Mary Woronov (Eating Raoul, Death Race 2000, and more genre films than you can count) is always interesting to watch, and her performance here is no exception. Lynn Lowry is a little overdone, but fits in well with the low-rent, trashy tone of the film. Associate producer Stone pops up in a bit part, Lloyd Kaufman plays a lawyer, and Gershuny casts himself in a scene - completely nude and having simulated sex with an equally nude actress. Pretty ballsy move considering he was married to star Mary Woronov at the time. Oh, the joys of being a director!

A little too sleazy to be a suspense film, a little too much story to be sexploitation - Sugar Cookies kind of meanders around in a genre by itself. It's not a masterpiece, but is pretty effective when compared to what passes for "erotic thrillers" these days. Viewers who enjoy skin flicks from a hairier time will find a lot to love here. If nothing else it's an interesting historical artifact - where the paths of Troma, Oliver Stone, and some Warhol alumni intersected in a less hygenic time and place.

3 out of 5.



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