It was 10:30 p.m. on a Saturday. I dragged myself out of bed (yes, BED), lured an unsuspecting friend into my automobile, and headed to the Grand Illusion for the late-night showing of Pets (part of its series of extremely obscure '70s exploitation movies, continuing this weekend with Teenage Hitchhikers). The film nerds arrived in ones and twos—nary a female to be seen. I was the only lady for miles! Had I foolishly stumbled into some real-life sexploitations? I wished I knew what the fuck sexploitation meant so that I could avoid being sexploited.
The projectionist, shy behind his beard, addressed us like so: "Due to some severe water damage, I had to cut out about five minutes. But it won't really affect the plot." We laughed. "Plot."
Unless you're super into dog murder and lady-on-doughy-old-dude rape, Pets is not so very sexy. But it is historically fascinating. It seems that back in 1974, when I was but a wee negative-8-year-old future-baby, ladyfolk were up to nothing but shenanigans. Ladies wanted to, you know, have jobs and "wear the pants" and maybe even be active participants in their own lives. But at the same time, ladies were still totally sexy, even in masculine trouser pants! "CONFUSING!" shouted the dudes. And that confusion begat Pets.
Bonnie (Candice Rialson) is on the run—which means, literally, she's running, underpants in hand. The vacant-eyed fugitive is basically the walking dead, and she indifferently bounces along with every (sexy) circumstance. Eventually, she shacks up with Geraldine, an artist looking for a live-in figure model (she pays in room, board, and LESBIANISM). When she's not baking muffins wearing nothing but an apron, Geraldine proceeds to create history's most hideous painting of Bonnie, which catches the eye of Vincent, an art dealer who looks like Mark Hamill (post janky facial reconstruction).
Okay. Then there's this whole amazing part where Bonnie sexploits a hot knife-wielding hobo, but let's just skip ahead, shall we? Everyone ends up in Vincent's basement where he keeps his dark sex menagerie (including, hilariously, a squirrel named Diane, and Aphrodite, who is some sort of emu). He's lured Bonnie and Geraldine there with lines like, "Perhaps it would change your mind if I offered you an unusual surprise?" and now he wants to keep them in a cage and hit them with a whip! As his Pets!
Vincent is cast as the villain, and he gets his comeuppance (kind of), but you can't miss the film's tacit agreement with his anxiety: "Women treat men like animals, don't they? Taking over their jobs... masquerading as lawyers and politicians!" Because, after all, Bonnie (our heroine) isn't a lawyer or a politician so much as she is a RETARDED, FLESHY COAT HANGER FOR AN INVISIBLE BLOUSE. This is the funniest movie I have ever seen.