Tuesday, July 20, 2010

BONNIE'S KIDS

"Thank God she only had two...."

I've seen the gloriously sordid "prevue" for Arthur Marks' 1973 crime melodrama, BONNIE'S KIDS, on numerous trailer compilations over the years, and thanks to Dark Sky Films, I finally got the opportunity to see the film itself. It wasn't what I expected.

15 year-old Myra (soap opera star Robin Mattson) and her 24 year-old sister Ellie (Tiffany Bolling, KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS) live with their stepfather Charlie (character actor Leo Gordon, SAVAGE DAWN) in a small town. When Charlie tries to rape Myra one night, Ellie blows him away with a shotgun. They hide the body and then head for San Jose, where they hope their mother's wealthy brother Ben (the great Scott Brady, DESTINATION INNER SPACE, CAIN'S CUTTHROATS) will take them in. As it turns out, he's happy to help "Bonnie's kids," and sets them up in his sprawling home. But Ben's a gangster of sorts, and it isn't long before the girls are embroiled in a caper involving a suitcase holding a half-million bucks, a seemingly dimwitted P.I., and a deadly pair of salt & pepper hitmen.

A surprisingly well-plotted crime thriller with the requisite amount of nubile skin, sleaze and sex, Arthur Marks' (BUCKTOWN, DETROIT 9000) exploitation classic is not nearly as predictable and formulaic as the trailer had led me to believe. It's actually a genuinely involving melodrama with good performances, a twisty story, and well-realized characters. Both Mattson and Bolling (who had recently graced the pages of Playboy) are sexy and tough, using their sexuality to manipulate the people they get involved with, male and female. The two hitmen, played by Alex Rocco (THE GODFATHER) and NFL running back Timothy Brown (NASHVILLE), are a lot of fun to watch and have great chemistry. The packaging's assertion that they inspired Quentin Tarantino's PULP FICTION duo of Vincent & Jules may be speculative, but I wouldn't dismiss it.

Dark Sky's DVD is flat-out flawless, with an uncut print, spotless 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer culled from the original 35mm negative, and a crystal clear 2.0 mono soundtrack. The bonus features include a brand-new interview with writer/director Marks, that classic trailer, TV spots, and select isolated music cues.

BONNIE'S KIDS is superior 70s drive-in fare, and Dark Sky's disc is another treasure for cult film fans/collectors. Recommended.

BUY: Bonnie's Kids (Special Edition)