The Suckers (1971) + The Love Garden (1972)


The Suckers + The Love Garden

Vinegar Syndrome brings a couple of great 70s exploiters back to life with their Drive-In Collection double feature of THE SUCKERS + THE LOVE GARDEN.  THE SUCKERS once lost has been found and though the print is beat the flick is a must see.  Each flick is examined more closely below:

THE SUCKERS

Richard Connell’s Most Dangerous Game is a short story that casts a long shadow.  There are film adaptations  dating back to the 1932 RKO feature up to the 1993 Jean-Claude Van Damme actioner HARD TARGET.  Somewhere in between-almost smack dab in the middle, 1972- is Stu Segall’s (credited as Arthur Byrd) THE SUCKERS.  The basic premise is pretty much the same.  A wealthy big game hunter has become bored with life and is looking to spice things up.  He hires a modeling agency to supply a couple of models and a photographer to document and spice up his latest hunt.  George and Cindy (Barbara Mills) run the agency and the hunter is one of their more eccentric former clients, Steve Vandermeer.  They bring along models Barbara (Lori Rose) and Joanne (Sandy Dempsey) to the esteemed hunter’s isolated estate for the shoot.  

The flick starts with the models and photographers heading to the estate disposing of any backstory or lead-in with an exposition dump.  Any other backstory is covered with an odd flash back to when George receives the telegraph in the middle of the social the night before the hunt.  This flashback serves only to shoehorn the first extended softcore scene.  The first 40 minutes or so are heavy petting sessions between the various characters interspersed with presumption and ambiguity concerning the hunt. Bi-curious Barbara manages to make a connection with Jack Baxter the hunter and then maintains her scissor sister relationship with Joanne.  The next morning everyone heads to the wilds to be briefed on the order of the hunt.  The trip takes its toll on the models and photographer while Jack, Vandermeer and his guards manage the hike well.  

When they gather at the summit of a hill Vandermeer, wearing khaki shorts and shirt with a pith helmet,

lets them know the game they are about to play.  He and his men will hunt the models and photographers down and rape them and kill them.  Jack is an ex-Green Beret and he is also one of the suckers who is supposed to help them stand a chance against Vandermeer and his goons.  The final act’s narrative is explained by a line from Vandermeer’s speech, “Rape and slaughter go hand in hand when one is hunting human beings.”  At this point the long lost roughie begins to more or less follow along with the final part of Connell’s narrative.  Models and agents are tracked down some are captured, raped and killed leading up to the final confrontation between Baxter and Vandermeer.

THE SUCKERS is a 2k scan from a 35mm theatrical print.  Long thought lost Vinegar Syndrome presents the film as part of The Drive-In Collection paired with THE LOVE GARDEN.  The picture quality is very good considering the print is beat up.  It is the best as can be expected considering it may be from one of the last surviving prints.  The lines, scratches, pops, crackles and splices add to the aesthetic of the presentation.  With so little information available on this obscure flick the original running time is unavailable and it appears the print was spliced for repair and possibly for double billing-some key scenes (such as the dispersal of the party at the beginning of the hunt) are missing entirely and some scenes are cut off mid sentence.  The film is

presented in widescreen 1.85:1 and runs for 80 minutes.
  Don’t be a sucker and check this flick out.  It’s sleazy, grimy and delivers the goods.  Check out the trailer below.

THE LOVE GARDEN

Mike is a young, hip freelance writer living the bachelor’s life in the big city.   Things are going good for him until he lays eyes on his gorgeous new neighbor Claire.  Instantly smitten, Mike begins to put the make on Claire but she rebuffs him at every turn.  Finally getting a foot in the door by helping lug in the groceries Mike gets to talk to her for a spell.  Mike is ready to pack it in and move on because he figures Claire is in a relationship.  That is until he goes back to retrieve his forgotten book and finds out that Claire is in a relationship…with Inez (Barbara Mills). 
This forces Mike to continue his plan to seduce Claire and he is even more determined now that he knows she is a lesbian.  He will earn her trust and then win her love because they share something and even though it may be small “it must be nurtured” to grow. Oh, a love garden…I get it. After winning her trust he finds himself, predictably, embroiled in a love triangle competing with Inez for Claire’s affection.  Even though he turns into a bit of a scuzz at the end Mike is overall a decent character despite his questionable goals thus making the ending oddly bittersweet. 
One of the best aspects of this film is the slice of 1970s urban

apartment life. This isn’t the ghetto it’s a middle class, trendy place to live.  From Mike’s groovy bachelor pad to Inez’s well appointed Sapphic lair even to the complex laundry room.  I can settle in and watch most anything with so much 70s minutiae.  I even found myself trying to catch titles and covers of the trade paperbacks lining Mike’s bookshelves.  I have wainscoting and rough timber in my den so what can I say?  I’m a junkie.  The interaction between the three principals is entertaining enough as well.  For a fan of grindhouse era drama with their soft core erotica, Inez’s simmering and jealous anger, Mike’s scheming and Claire’s smoldering glances are more than enough to keep the viewer interested in their story. 

THE LOVE GARDEN is presented in 1.37:1 and has a 70-minute running time.  The print condition is much better than the disc’s co-feature.  Though some scratches and lines are present the print is not as heavily damaged as its counterpart.  The color is excellent for both features and both are 2k scans of vintage 35mm theatrical prints. 
There is little doubt you will buy the disc for THE SUCKERS but make sure you stay for THE LOVE GARDEN too.  You might find yourself as pleasantly surprised as I did.  Check out the trailer below.

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