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Joëlle Coeur and Gilda Arancio star as a pair of lovers enjoying a blissful cross-country hike. But the carefree erotic film turns suddenly dark when the women are set upon by a band of thieves who think they've stolen their loot, and use sadistic means to force a confession.
For more about Schoolgirl Hitchhikers and the Schoolgirl Hitchhikers Blu-ray release, see Schoolgirl Hitchhikers Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on March 21, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Starring: Joëlle Coeur, Gilda Arancio, Marie Hélène Règne, Willy Braque, Pierre Julien, François Brincourt
Director: Jean Rollin
» See full cast & crew
Schoolgirl Hitchhikers Blu-ray Review
Jean Rollin's first foray into straight-forward sexploitation.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, March 21, 2013
Euro-sleaze auteur Jean Rollin is best known for his known for his many, many, many lesbian vampire movies—which have gained a cult following because of their surreal dreaminess and eroticism—but over the course of his 30+ feature film career, he also made several more conventional sexploitation movies under the pseudonyms "Michel Gentil" and "Robert Xavier." The first of these was 1973's Jeunes filles impudiques, which should've been translated as Shameless Girls. For whatever reason, it was anglicized as Schoolgirl Hitchhikers, a misnomer considering the girls in the film are beyond college age and never do any hitchhiking. Not that it matters much, considering how nothing in the movie makes sense. The characters behave in ways that aren't recognizably human, the acting is bizarrely stilted, and the plot only exists to string together a series of laughable-but-increasingly-tedious softcore skin scenes. Even those who appreciate Rollin's vampire movies—and I consider myself a modest fan—will have trouble finding many redeemable attributes in Schoolgirl Hitchhikers, which is far more bad than so-bad-it's-good.
The two "schoolgirl hitchhikers" of the title are actually campers, trekking through the woods on vacation. The brunette Monique (The Curse of the Living Dead's Joëlle Coeur) and her blonde best friend, Jackie (Gilda Arancio), come across a seemingly abandoned villa and decide to stay there for the night. "I must say that Jackie and I are very...intimate," Monique confesses in voiceover, and they waste no time finding a comfy bed upstairs, immediately undressing one another and then proceeding to basically roll around together for a few minutes, with much moaning and the occasional insert shot—let me rephrase that—the occasional closeup of a nipple being kissed or thighs intertwined.
Later, when Jackie is asleep, Monique goes out for a smoke only to discover that they're not alone in the decrepit mansion. Downstairs, the petty crook Fred (Willy Braque)—with a ridiculous mustache and an oversized polka-dot tie tucked into his pants—is reclining on a cot, reading. (It's unexplained how he didn't hear the nymphos upstairs going at it.) Soon enough, Monique is doing it with Fred, and—yeah, you guessed it—Jackie comes down in short order to join in on the fun. The three share a merry naked evening by the fire and then the two girls go on their way the next morning. The End.
Just kidding. After the girls depart, Fred's boss, the icy villainess Béatrice (Marie Hélène Règne), arrives with a second underling (Pierre Julien) and checks a safe in the living room for the jewels that are supposed to be hidden there. They're gone. Convinced the girls must've stolen them, the criminals track down Monique and Jackie, chloroform them with a rag, and drag them back to the house. While Jackie is strung up and whipped with a switch—also, her breasts get pinched with what looks like an enormous pair of pliers—Monique manages to escape and run into town.
Instead of going to the cops, she hires a hokey private investigator (François Brincourt) and his pig-tailed secretary (Reine Thirion), who is inexplicably attired in some kind of Bavarian-looking cheerleader jumpsuit, for the lack of a better description. (Why not, right?) Their rescue mission turns into what might be the lamest shootout ever committed to film, with Fred stopping between shots to stroke his mustache with his pistol. Other things happen—a reversal of fortune, more torture, more writhe-around-with-eyes-closed nakedness—but it's all so dull and inconsequential. Beyond a few flashy colors and unexpected angles, Rollin's characteristic surrealism is nowhere to be found.
The film isn't entirely without its goofy pleasures—see-through pajamas! hilarious facial hair! nudie ladies spasming uncontrollably simply from being licked on the ribcage!—but this is one of the always-shabby Jean Rollin's shabbiest productions. The lack of effort is plain to see onscreen. There are even several scenes that are obviously stretched out for the sole purpose of lengthening the 79-minute runtime. I mean, there's no reason why we need to watch every second of Monique and Jackie painstakingly climbing over the villa's wall. The film's few moments of so-awful-it's-hilarious low-budget splendor are nullified by the long stretches of boredom. Hardcore Rollin-ites may want to pick this one up, but all others are recommended to leave it at the side of the road.
Schoolgirl Hitchhikers Blu-ray, Video Quality
Of all the Jean Rollin films that Kino has released in the past year, Schoolgirl Hitchhikers looks the roughest, with a 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that's sometimes even physically difficult to watch. Like the other Rollin titles, this one is basically presented "as is," so to start, you can expect near- constant specks, vertical scratches, and errant hairs on the badly battered print. If you're accustomed to watching these kinds of films you can probably overlook the age and wear-and-tear related damage, but it's harder to get past the fact that the image frequently judders up and down inside the frame, almost nauseatingly. I'm not sure if this was a telecine problem, a weird PAL-to-NTSC issue, or an quirk with the print that was used, but it's definitely distracting. Possibly related are the slight combing artifacts that are sometimes visible when the jitteriness is at its worst, which gives the impression of an interlaced picture even though the encode is progressive scan. Strange. There's also the matter of the 35mm grain structure looking somewhat—but not entirely—smoothed over, leaving the image soft and muddy and indistinct, with a consistent lack of fine detail. If you told me I was looking at an upscaled standard definition transfer, I'd probably believe you. On top of this, the color is faded and dingy, with black levels that are closer to gray. I'll give Kino the benefit of the doubt and say they probably did as best as they could with some terrible source materials, but Schoolgirl Hitchhikers is undeniably uneasy on the eyes.
Schoolgirl Hitchhikers Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Kino's disc includes two lossless DTS-HD Master Audio mono tracks, one in French and the other in English. The film was shot silently, will all sound dubbed in after the fact, so pick your poison. It doesn't really matter which you chose; aside from the language, both mixes are basically the same. The audio fares much better than the video transfer, thankfully, but there are still some of the usual age-related quirks here—mostly light hisses and crackles, with some high-end peaking. The effects are uniformly thin and stagey-sounding, but the wacko score—which veers from folksy flute and guitar to crazed proto-punk 2/2 drumming—is at least decently full and clear. Dialogue is always easy to understand, even if it's not always cleanly recorded. The disc includes optional English subtitles, which appear in white inside the frame.
Schoolgirl Hitchhikers Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The only extras on the disc are HD trailers for a few of Kino's other Jean Rollin releases—The Rape of the Vampire, Lips of Blood, Fascination, and The Living Dead Girl.
Schoolgirl Hitchhikers Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
One of Jean Rollin's shabbier efforts—and that's really saying something—Schoolgirl Hitchhikers is dull exercise in what we might call the "nudie-crime" sub-genre of euro-sleaze. These kinds of films can be fun when they soar way over the top or exist in that nebulous so-bad-it's-good territory, but this one is simply flat, with uninteresting characters in a barely-there plot that strings together a series of tedious softcore skin scenes. Mr. Rollin was much better when he stuck to his forte—atmospheric lesbian vampire flicks. I can't really recommend the film even for a laugh. Even if it was watchable, Kino's high definition transfer isn't—it's soft, jittery, and abrasive with both print damage and digital artifacts. Skip this one and take a look at Zeta One or The Girl on a Motorcycle instead.
Schoolgirl Hitchhikers Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Upcoming Redemption Titles - January 9, 2013
The Salvation Group, creator of the Redemption, Sacrament, Jezebel, and Purgatory film labels, is planning to bring to Blu-ray a number of cult films in the coming months, including Martin Campbell's The Sex Thief (1974), Jean Rollin's Zombie Lake (1981), and Jess ...
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