Those of you familiar with the French Director Jean Rollin are probably most familiar with his vampire pictures. Yet, as most cult directors from the early seventies he, too, could not resist the allure of creating works of sexploitation, and, eventually, would go on to create further erotic works under the name “Michel Gentil”. This film is the first time that Rollin would use a pseudonym as the listed director for a film, a process he would repeat once again when he developed even harder works of pornography under the assumed name of Robert Xavier. For the purposes of today’s review we need only concern ourselves with SCHOOLGIRL HITCHIKERS and the ultimate decision whether this is a title worth stopping for and picking up.
Two pretty young women named Monica and Jackie are hitchhiking across the French countryside. They come across a large abandoned house and being curious in every possible way (that would actually matter to a male viewing demographic) they climb the wall and take a nap together and engage in impromptu lesbian sex with one another. Well it seems this place isn’t abandoned after all; the girls awake to find that a pistol toting thief named Fred is using it as a hideout. Of course because the girls are a carefree duo, this film was filmed in the seventies and because chicks simply love bad guys the three of them get it on with each other for the rest of the night until the girls leave quietly to continue their adventures somewhere else. Surprisingly, the robber waves at them nonchalantly as they walk away and I was left wondering how an exploitation film could let a film lose an opportunity to cash in on all the jealousy, lust and potential violence these opening scenes seem to cultivate to no avail.
Suddenly the film changes in tone. A butch but beautiful female boss named Bea soon arrives and starts asking Fred to produce the jewels from a recent caper when the safe is inexplicably empty they suddenly go out and capture the two young women and take them back to the old house and interrogate them with all sorts of soft-core, sexualized torture that devotees should find familiar. From stripping, to whipping to the use of fireplace tools on one of the girls nipples, no answer can be extracted from the two nubile captives and it isn’t long before Monica escapes and makes it to town, not to seek the police or Gendarme but to hire a private detective to come back and rescue her friend.
The private detective and his young, pretty pistol packing secretary who is clad in the manner of a strange cheerleader accompany Monica back to the scene of the crime and from there it is a strange battle with open gunplay between the detective and his secretary versus Bea and her two armed thugs. In most crime films scenes of firefights usually accelerate the plot if not economize it by eliminating a few people, but in this film certain good guys people (the women) tend to get captured and recaptured time and time again only so they can be taken to the back room, stripped naked and manhandled roughly so they may feel compelled to answer the question of who took the jewels, when it seems all but obvious that all of the women are completely innocent regarding the missing jewels and have no idea whatsoever who could have taken them. Rereading this review I am sure it sounds like a non-stop rape a thon, but it should be stated that this film is considered a comedy by IMDB and no one seems to be engaged in sexual activities against their characters will even though many of the endless, contrived interrogation techniques seem stolen from an S+M fetish film.
The sound quality is surprisingly spot on and even though all “scenes of eroticism” seem to use the same peculiar, repetitive jazz theme, you might just find yourself tapping your foot in time to the audio. The print of the movie itself is a little stressed, but most of this tends to clear up by the time the opening credits finish. Perhaps more importantly to a purist like me, this is the first time this film has ever been seen in its intended 79 minute version which up until now has never been released in any media form.
Extras include trailers of other Jean Rollin films and an English dubbed version. As usual with in this partnership between Kino Lorber and Redemption, considerable effort was put into making this the "definitive version" of Schoolgirl Hitchikers. If your exploitation fetish revolves around hostage motifs with seemingly endless scenes of pretty young girls tied up and strip-searched as a plot device (whether they yield any actual contraband or resulting plot points), then this is your film. I give the film a four because it’s a long awaited uncut version, it’s the best looking version of this film ever sold to the home video market, and, to the horror fans of Jean Rollin, this film marked a distinct change in theme and subject matter that even he wasn’t all too eager to own at this point in his directorial career.