Monday, November 24, 2014

SUGAR COOKIES (1971)

SUGAR COOKIES (1971) 
Label: Vinegar Syndrome
Region: Region-FREE
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 91 Minutes
Audio: 
Video: 1080p Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: Theodore Gershuny
Cast: George Shannon, Mary Woronov, Lynn Lowrey, Daniel Sadurs, Jennifer Welles

Here we have a film co-written by Troma's own Lloyd Kaufman and directed by Theodore Gershuny and starring the lovely duo of Mary Woronov (THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL) and Lynn Lowry (SHIVERS). The film opens with adult film director Max (George Shannon) playing a twisted sex game with his porn star lover Alta (Lynn Lowry) that ends with him shooting her in the head. Max's other lover, porn producer Camilla (Mary Woronov), provides the director with an alibi and Alta's death is widely reported as a tragic suicide. 

Soon after Camilla begins auditioning actresses to fill the void left by the death of Alta. we soon discover that Alta was also Camilla's lover in addition to Max, which makes for a fun triangular dynamic. The producer meets with several actresses before coming across a young woman named Julie (played by Lynn Lowry) who is the spitting image of the late Alta. Promising her a future in film Camilla sets about molding the young starlet into a version of Alta through a series of kinky seduction and cruel mind games which lead-up to a finale that mirrors the opening scene with a nice serving of revenge. 

While the title invokes images of a lighthearted softcore sex film but it rarely strays into the realm true softcore perversion or offering much comedy. There is an off-kilter sub plot involving Max's chubby nephew Gus and his quest to lose his virginity. It's such a weird detour and feels shoe-horned into the film.  A scene of Gus popping his cherry in drag while screaming the name of his uyncle left me scratching my head, as did a pair of panty-sniffing detectives - none of which plays into anything whatsoever.  

Not played for laughs but definitely weird I found the strange sex rituals and mind games  intriguing but desperately disjointed. It's the onscreen pairing of the seductive Lynn Lowry and Mary Woronov that carried the film for me. While I have never found Woronov to be a woman who stirred me there's something about her I found so damn appealing in this film. 

Lowry is decent in the dual-role of seductive adult film star and the more naive Julie who finds herself manipulated by the twisted duo Max and Camilla, she has a presence you cannot deny. Lowry and Woronov engage in some sapphic love scenes throughout but the film is not an x-rated sleaze fest, this is more a trashy erotic thriller with some off-kilter detours and arthouse leanings. .

BLU-RAY:
The brand new 4K scan of the film from the original 35mm negative looks truly fantastic, the film grain is managed quite nicely throughout with some excellent fine detail and clarity. It's an impressive image front to back with solid color reproduction and skin tones, minor instances of speckling and print damage from time to time but I cannot imagine this film looking any better than this. 

The DTS-HD MA 1.0 Mono audio track is decent, it can be a bit flat and boxy at times and is marred by some audio hiss, which is probably due to poor sound recording during filming or poor sound elements. 


The extras are spread across the two disc set beginning with a new interview with star Lynn Lowry entitled "Making Sugar Cookies with Lynn Lowry" with the star discussing her first meeting with Lloyd Kaufman and landing the role going onto discuss her hesitation to do nudity onscreen at first. Her contract stipulated know full frontal but during the interview admits that there is a "hint of bush" in a few scenes. Going on to discuss director Ted Gershuny, the duality of her role in the film and working with Woronov who she thought was a bit intimidating. Having just re watched the film Lowry offers up some fun anecdotes and seems genuinely fond of the film which she rightfully recalls as more of an art film that an x-rated sexploitation entry, this is a pretty dandy interview. The Blu-ray disc is rounded out with a scratchy widescreen theatrical trailer for the film. 

Onto the standard definition second disc we have the same feature presentation of the film plus the Lynn Lowry interview plus two additional interviews with producer Lloyd Kaufman and star Mary Woronov, "Remembering Sugar Cookies with Lloyd Kaufman" features the animated impresario remembering his time on the film and discovering star Lynn Lowry which he cast in several films. The man is an encyclopedia of knowledge and the half hour featurette is pretty dense with info and humor. 


Also carried over from the original Troma release is the interview with Mary Woronov conducted by Lloyd Kaufman. She recalls being shocked that director Theodore Gershunuy, whom she was married to at the time, not only cast her in a lesbian role but also inserted himself into the film in a softcore sex scene. 

A decent set of extras, both Kaufman and Lowry are very forthcoming about their experiences on the film while Woronov  seems a bit more reserved or maybe just slightly annoyed by Lloyd Kaufman whom insists that Woronov was a lesbian in real life at one point during the interview. 

SPECIAL FEATURES:
- BD/DVD Combo Pack
- New 4K Restoration from the 35mm Camera Negative 

- New video interview with Writer/Producer, Lloyd Kaufman (34 Minutes) SD
- New video interview with Star Lynn Lowry (14 Minutes) HD
- Interview with Star Mary Woronov (5 Minutes) SD

- Original Theatrical Trailer (2 Minutes) HD/SD
- Alt Theatrical Trailer (3 Minutes) SD

VERDICT:

SUGAR COOKIES (1971) definitely has some strange appeal, namely the erotic duo of Woronov and Lowry who carry the film through performance and spectacle. At it's core it's a slow tale of manipulative revenge tempered with eroticism but it suffers from odd detours that go nowhere. It's great to see this get such a fine release from Vinegar Syndrome who continue to go above and beyond in their efforts to preserve and  champion obscure cult cinema, a recommend to fans of arty softcore cinema by way of the New York underground.   

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