Wednesday, May 15, 2013

#1,003. Bonnie's Kids (1973)

Directed By: Arthur Marks

Starring: Tiffany Bolling, Steve Sandor, Robin Mattson

Tag line: "They Were Born Innocent ... But They Didn't Stay That Way"

Trivia: This film marked the big-screen debut of actress Sharon Gless

Bonnie’s Kids kicks off with a lengthy pre-title sequence, in which 15-year-old Myra (Robin Mattson), who’s just returned home from a date, is attacked by her step-father, Charley (Leo Gordon). It seems Charley lost a bundle of cash playing poker with his buddies, and it's put him in a foul mood. So when he catches Myra on the phone, talking dirty to her boyfriend, he snaps, calling her a "whore" and slapping her across the face. Things get even worse for Myra when Charley drags her into the bedroom, lies on top of her, and starts kissing her neck. That’s when Ellie (Tiffany Bolling), Myra’s older sister, walks in on them. At first surprised to see her, Charley soon invites Ellie to join them, hoping to make it a threesome, but Ellie instead blows Charley away with a shotgun blast to the gut. It’s an intense, electrifying opening that gets this ‘70s exploitation flick off to a great start.

After dumping Charley’s body in the basement, Ellie and Myra head to the city and drop in on their rich uncle Ben (Scott Brady), their late mother’s brother. Uncle Ben welcomes his nieces with open arms, inviting them to stay with him and his wife, Diana (Lenore Stevens), at their large estate. After some time together, Diana, who’s not happily married to Ben, develops deep feelings for the confused Myra, and tries to seduce her. As for Ellie, Uncle Ben asks her to drive to a remote hotel to pick up a mysterious package for him, which will be delivered by a guy named Larry (Steve Sandor), a private detective who was himself hired by Ben’s two associates, Eddy (Alex Rocco) and Digger (Tim Brown). But instead of simply grabbing the package and returning home, Ellie lures Larry into bed and convinces him that they should open the package to see what’s inside it, setting in motion a chain of events that will most likely end in disaster.

At the outset of Bonnie’s Kids, we can’t help but feel sorry for Ellie and Myra, who were clearly being terrorized by their step-father (we’re actually happy when Ellie takes matters into her own hands). Yet, as the movie progresses, we learn that neither Ellie nor Myra are the innocent young girls we assumed them to be. Myra is a petty thief who, at one point, steals Diana’s watch (she returns it only after Ellie forces her to). As for Ellie, she knows how to get what she wants from guys, flaunting her body to win over the gullible Larry. Hired to pick up the package at a bus depot and deliver it to Ellie’s hotel room, Larry instead falls victim to Ellie’s feminine wiles, thus putting both their lives in jeopardy. Bolling and Mattson give fine performances as the scheming siblings, and their evolving personalities are what makes Bonnie’s Kids such an interesting motion picture.

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