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SUGAR COOKIES (1973).

This exceptionally lurid tale snagged an X-rating when first released, with its credits boasting a bizarre combination of celluloid bedfellows. The cast includes ex-Warhol regulars Ondine, Monique Van Vooren and Mary Woronov; the executive producer was a pre-Troma Team Lloyd Kaufman; and one of the associate producers was none other than future Oscar-winner Oliver Stone (the two other associate producers went on to help Stone with his feature debut, SEIZURE). Gee, I bet self-righteous Oliver doesn't put this piece of trash on his resume anymore. Right off the bat I knew this was going to be an exceptional chunk of exploitation when the first credit read "Theodore Gershuny's SUGAR COOKIES." It's pretentious enough when a real director tosses his name above the title of some multi-million dollar epic, but when it happens with slop like this, it's downright ridiculous! And go figure, he was also Mary Woronov's husband at the time... George Shannon stars as Max, a shifty porno filmmaker who enjoys playing sex 'n' death games with a bevy of vapid babes, who all fall for his fourth-rate gigolo routine. But Max goes a little too far one day when (during a surge of "creativity") he shoots one gal in the mouth and blames it on suicide. Que sera, sera. Meanwhile, we're shown clips of Max's films (softcore, soft-focus shtupping in the middle of a cow pasture); meet his associate, Camilla (Woronov), who heads up a riotous casting call for new additions to Max's stable; and cringe at the 'humorous' subplot concerning Max's fat nephew, who enjoys wearing lady's lingerie. Things really heat up when Lynn Lowry (THEY CAME FROM WITHIN) enters as Max's latest find, and Woronov and her sneak off for a steamy lesbian tryst. Then there are the scurvy cops -- repellant fuckheads who'll go so low as to sniff a murdered girl's dirty panties and laugh about it. And by the end, the movie swings into full-blown psycho-sexual melodrama. Admittedly, not many U.S. films are so willing to wallow in perverse sexual fantasies and the world of pornography, and although SUGAR COOKIES is by no means a good film, it's so sadistically erotic at times that it keeps you watching. For most viewers though, it's merely an excuse to watch the femme cast gratuitously strutting around buck naked, including Woronov, who lays around on a shag rug, doing nude exercises. She's the only true talent in the bunch (Shannon, who also starred in Fernando Arrabal's I WILL WALK LIKE A CRAZY HORSE, is particularly lousy), playing a hardcore bitch while bringing a cool sense of humor to this nonsense. It's obvious that director Gershuny had more on his mind than pandering to the mutton-flogging contingent; plus his mock-artsy veneer, sick plot twists and tacky, erotic art direction all combine to make a strangely compelling miasma. So dark at its core that it would make a fine double bill with Paul Bartel's PRIVATE PARTS, and so downright tawdry that it takes on an outrageously camp edge.

© 1992 by Steven Puchalski.