Sunday, December 23, 2012

Teenage Hitchhikers (Gerri Sedley, 1975)

The open road, a well-attended orgy, drugs, flamboyant guys named Bruce, wet panties, dry panties, drugs, inadequate rapists, and the world's cutest truck stop waitress all converge to create one of the best films about teenage hitchhikers I have ever seen. Wow, that's high praise, especially when you factor in the amount of time you have pretended to spend in the mid-1970s over the past couple of years. Why do you assume this film was made in the mid-1970s? It wasn't? That's not the point. Okay, for starters, I assumed that Teenage Hitchhikers took place in the mid-1970s simply because that's date you listed (I'm not a moron). And secondly, why wouldn't it take place during the mid-1970s? Think about it, I'm not watching a teenage hitchhiking movie that takes place during the mid-1960s. (Hey, daddy-o! How's about giving us a lift?) And I'm certainly not watching a teenage hitchhiker movie that takes place during the mid-1980s (Like, oh my god! Eww! You wanna give us a ride? I'm so sure.) The mid-1960s thing I get (you can keep your clam diggers and bobby socks), but I thought you loved the mid-80s? Oh, I love 'em, all right. It's just that I don't buy for a second that anyone, particularly a couple of sexually attractive teenage girls named after animals, would hitchhike during mid-1980s. While I'm sure many teenagers did in fact thumb rides during the Reagan administration, I think the decades neon, Patrick Nagel illustrated temperament can't match the mid-1970s as far as sleaze goes. As anyone who was alive during the mid-1970 can attest, it was a boisterous period filled with violence and debauchery. I know what you're thinking, there's plenty of violence going on out there right this minute. Yeah, that's true. Violence never seems to go out of fashion. But I ask you, where's the debauchery?
Nowadays, pornography is everywhere, but, at the same time, it's also nowhere. Relegated to the fringes of our collective unconsciousness, erotica, pornography's forgotten, kinder, gentler cousin has become so non-existent, that you would probably need a magnifying glass to find it anywhere within mainstream society. Now, I'm not talking about oversexualized pop stars gyrating in their underwear. No, what I miss is artful perversion, which is something this film, directed by Gerri Sedley, has in great supply.
Getting back to my original point, the films of the mid-1970s are replete with violence and debauchery. But they also have a sense of fun. In the grand tradition of the drive-in movies made by Crown International Pictures, Teenage Hitchhikers looks like it might be yet another violent exploitation film; two young women, Mouse (Chris Jordan) and Bird (Sandra Peabody) hit the open road in search of adventure by using their thumbs, and, when necessary, their naked, tan line-adorned titties to hitch rides. However, the film, in actuality, is a lighthearted, softcore romp. In fact, it's so lighthearted, that even the ubiquitous rapist character is a bit of a doofus.
We meet Mouse, a kooky blonde with a flat chest and strong comedic chops, and Bird, a playful brunette with a shapely, pantie-compromising booty, as they're, you guessed it, trying to hitch a ride. As darkness falls, Mouse and Bird have yet to land a ride. Their luck, however, changes when a camper filled to the brim with hippies picks them up. The men are members of a folk rock band called "Energy Crisis" and the women, Sol Alcoa (Margaret Whitton) and House Cat (Lynne Ritchie), are their groupies (the former actually calls herself a parasite who sucks other people's energy). As the band perform one of their ditties, Mouse and Bird get to know House Cat, who has a habit of contradicting everything they say by spouting hippie-related nonsense in their general direction. Like, for example, if you were to say, "I don't get it" to House Cat, she would say, "I don't 'get,' man, I give."
In order for them to remain warmly ensconced in their camper, Mouse and Bird are informed that they're going to have let the band members temporarily use the inside portion of their vaginas for undisclosed amount of time. After mulling it over for about two seconds, Mouse and Bird bolt from the camper like a couple of exasperated black-capped chickadees.
Is there anything more depressing than watching a couple of teenage hitchhikers attempt to catch fish with their bare hands? Oh, you're asking me? Actually, I found the scene to be quite rewarding, as it gave us our first peek at Bird's first-rate behind. Encased in wettest pair of white panties ever to exist on this or any other plane of white pantie-based existence, Bird hikes them up even further, creating a sort of cottony no man's land of  corporeal tightness. Hardcore fans of this film, the kind that write Teenage Hitchhiker fan fiction in their spare time, will notice that Mouse, who kinda looks like Cheryl Hines from certain angles, stares at Bird in a loving manner as she adjusts her wet white panties on the shore. Was Mouse simply impressed by her pantie-hiking technique? After all, wet panties are tougher to hike than regular, non-wet panties (you mean dry panties? yeah, dry. which is totally the opposite of wet). Or was there something else going on? Hmmm.
Oh, and in case you're wondering. Yes, they do eventually catch a fish. Now, I don't want to say how exactly they go about doing this, as it would ruin the surprise. But trust me, finding out how is definitely worth, oh, let's say, the price of admission. Do people still pay for stuff? Hmmm.
After drying off, they're back on the road. No money for food? No problem. As Mouse would say, "Boobs and butts are legal tender," and they head to the nearest truck stop ready to spend a bit of both. Sitting on either side of some guy, Mouse and Bird immediately unleash a barrage of food-related sexual innuendos at Keily (Donald Haines), the truck stop's clueless soda jerk. When that doesn't work, Mouse and Bird proceed to dance without the aid of pants. Huh, it would seem that Bird's panties are in fact dry; to be honest, I wasn't sure if they were dry or not. Yeah, anyway, um, Mouse removes her top and begins to gyrate like a coked up go-go dancer. I don't know what exactly they're trying to accomplish (I think they're trying to get a free meal), but either way, it's a great scene.   
When flashing their boobs fails to get them a ride (they hurl homophobic slurs at the drivers who refuse to stop for them), they turn to plan B: Writing the words "west" on their butt cheeks. While Bird has some junk in her trunk, I don't think these gals have the badonk necessary in order to make a legible sign, especially one that supposed to be seen by the occupants of a vehicle traveling at an accelerated rate of speed. Proving that ingenuity was alive and well in the mid-1970s, Mouse and Bird share the letters in "west." Yeah, that's right. Mouse gets the 'w' and the 'e,' while Bird gets the 's' and the 't.'  You know it's an ingenious plan because their riding in Dick Daggert's station wagon in no time.
Who's Dick Daggert, you ask? Played by Pater Carew, Dick, who is a lingerie salesman, has a girl named Mouse bouncing up and down on his cock in no time. God I love the mid-1970s. A time and a place where even the most repugnant of individuals seem to get laid on a regular basis.
Sure, everything up until now has been light and frothy. But I have a feeling things are going to take a dark turn when word gets around that there's an escaped rapist on the loose in the surrounding woods. Lounging in those very same woods, Mouse (rocking giant yellow curlers in her hair) and Bird (reading an erotic paperback while relaxing in a leggy manner) have no idea, but Jenny (Nikki Lynn), a young runaway, is being stalked by an escaped rapist (Ric Mancini) a hundred yards away from where they are currently lounging.
Will Mouse and Bird come to Jenny's rescue? What do you think? Pretending to be a wayward teen, Bird tells the escaped rapist to stop raping Jenny. Why would he do that? Well, according to Bird, he's trespassing on the property belonging to a school for, you guessed it, wayward girls. And, not to mention, he failed to obey the sign that clearly stated, "No Rapists Beyond This Point." Now, we all know there's no school for wayward girls or any sign meant to deter rapists, but the escaped rapists doesn't know this. On top of the things I just mentioned, Bird also mocks his genitals and belittles his raping technique; "maybe raping isn't your bag," Bird tells the escaped rapist at one point. I don't know if this scene would pass today's politically correct smell test. But nonetheless, I admired its dark sensibility.
The stunning Claire Wilbur only made two films during her career, and I've seen both of them (I love when that happens). Anyway, just like in Radley Metzger's Score, Claire plays a forthright woman who always gets what she wants. And in Teenage Hitchhikers she plays Toni Blake, a rich lesbian who desperately wants to have sex with Mouse and Bird. The plan is, have sex with her, while Jenny (who has since joined the duo on the road) robs the rich lesbian of her valuables. While Bird is being smothered with kisses in the garden, Jenny starts to poke around Toni's study. However, it doesn't look like Jenny is in the mood for stealing, as she mostly daydreams about her boyfriend, who bears a striking resemblance to the truck stop soda jerk. Oh, and while Jenny is wistfully woolgathering about the soda jerk, Mouse has hopped in the bath with Toni.
It's during the bathtub scene that I first realized that Chris Jordan has a genuine gift for comedy. It's true, she's funny throughout the movie. But watching her face as she bathed with Claire Wilbur was when it dawned on me: Chris Jordan has got the goods.
As far as plot goes, the girls desire to purchase a car is pretty much it. A plot that culminates when they visit the Farquart Classic Car Emporium, a car lot located in a clearing in the woods. Even though it looks like a junkyard, Mr. Farquart (Kevin Andre, credited here as Carter Courtney Jr.) insists that all his cars run. Unable to afford the one car on the lot that actually works, the girls and Mr. Farquart hash out a unique payment plan. Which leads to a bizarre sex montage where Mr. Farquart almost humps Mouse and Bird in the back of a convertible. "Almost" because he's interrupted every time he's about to get his thrust on.
Oh my god! The waitress who serves Mouse, Bird, and Jenny at a greasy spoon is freaking adorable. And, get this, her name is listed in the credits! Played by Karen Schutzman, the waitress character, a demure brunette in a green smock, might only be screen for four or five seconds, but she still managed to steal my heart. Give me my heart back, demure brunette waitress who appears in Teenage Hitchhikers for four or five seconds. Give it back!
Celebrating freedom, independence, and the excitement of the open road, Teenage Hitchhikers is a loving tribute to the mid-1970s made during the mid-1970s (if you're going to pay tribute to a specific period of time, try doing it during the actual period). Ending like all tributes to the mid-1970s do, with a well-attended softcore orgy sequence (complete with a zipper pulling montage) hosted by Bruce (Kevin Andre), the orgy's "resident fag." A dizzying mish-mash of pantyhose, uncouth hippie genitals, grape-based cunnilingus, paisley shirts, catchy music, drugs, Eric Edwards, and casual humping, I can't think of a better way to end a movie about teenage hitchhikers. You could bring the escaped rapist back. Yeah, I guess you could do that. But don't you think ending with the orgy would have been the perfect metaphor for the decade's liberal attitude toward sex? Either way, the film is must see for fans of  frivolous balderdash with a subversive edge.

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