Director - Jean Rollin
Cast - Joelle Coeur, Gilda Arancio
Country of Origin - France
Distributor - Kino
Reviewer - Scott MacDonald
Date - 04/07/13
The Film (4/5)
A little over 3 years ago the world lost one of it's great unsung cinematic visionaries, and one of the true pioneers of French fantastic horror the now legendary Jean Rollin. During his career Rollin's work was primarily known by a devoted group of European horror aficionados, and kept alive by the work of fans who kept his work in the public eye. His films were far from horrors mainstream, for while they contained the sex, violence, and undead creatures horror fans crave they were more about the atmosphere then the scares. This created as many fans of his films, as it did detractors as Rollin was truly a cinematic auteur with a true personal cinematic vision.
It should be said that it is a true rarity for any filmmaker to get his or her exact vision upon the screen. Jean Rollin did his best throughout his career to execute his precise vision upon the screen, his vision while beautiful, poetic, and sometimes truly erotic did not always return the box office receipts producers required to fund his films. In between his main features he was simply forced to direct pornographic pictures (most under the name Michel Gentil) to help pay the bills. Schoolgirl Hitchhiker's is one of the softcore sex romps that Rollin directed under his Michel Gentil pseudonym, and as such one may think it may be a throwaway film in his filmography. On the contrary, Rollin ended up bringing many of his stylistic flourishes to this softcore crime caper bringing the film aesthetically speaking more in line with the rest of his filmography than some of his other for-hire pornographic work.
Before the last year I had only seen a handful of Jean Rollin's films, and Schoolgirl Hitchhikers was not one of them. I did not have any expectations for the film going into it, but was quite pleased with what I was presented with. Having only seen a bootleg of The Seduction of Amy as far as Rollin's XXX work is concerned, I didn't have any idea how Schoolgirl Hitchhikers would play out. What I would discover is that Rollin truly brought his wonderfully atmospheric style to this erotic cops vs criminals story with outstanding results.
Schoolgirl Hitchhikers manages to blends elements of the softcore sex film, horror, comedy, and crime films into an absolutely unique cinematic cocktail. That is grounded by the wonderfully paced and atmospheric direction by Rollin. The sets and locations which are primarily the manor house, and the surrounding property feel like they could fit in with other locations in Rollin's other films.
Schoolgirl Hitchhikers follows 2 young women Monica and Jackie who are spending their vacation hiking through the French countryside. As the film opens they find what they assume is an abandoned manor house, and decide to spend the night there. First, of course they make sweet lesbian love, this being a Rollin film after all. In the middle of the night Monica gets up to find a criminal named Fred has been occupying the house. Monica, rather then explain what she is doing in the house has sex with him, and is joined by Jackie for a three-way when she is awakened later on.
The next morning the duo leave to continue their backpacking journey. Fred, it turns out, is part of a small criminal ring consisting of 2 other people and they have come to collect their stash, which is now missing. They assume that Monica and Jackie took it, and go about kidnapping, and then torturing them. When Monica escapes and informs the police it becomes a standoff between the cops and criminals for the lives of the 2 girls.
Kino/Redemption have brought Schoolgirl Hitchhikers to Blu-ray in a 1:66:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer preserving the films original aspect ratio. If you know anything about how the transfer for this line works the films are given a simple HD Scan from the best available materials, and the results are what appear on the Blu-ray. This is a fine way to do it, as it gives their transfers a natural film like look, and offers a vast improvement over what ever DVD counterpart previously existed.
That being said the materials that exist for Schoolgirl Hitchhikers are not in the best of shape, and as such this is not the best looking transfer you will see from Redemption/Kino. The transfer does have a very nice grain structure, and a very film like appearance and texture. The detail on the transfer is quite nice. That being said there is quite a lot of damage on the print, now with a film like this I sort of find that aesthetically pleasing especially since Blu-ray renders a film, when scanned properly, a more film like experience. However, there moments, and you'll recognize these from prior DVD releases of the film (as per my research) where the film shakes uncontrollably, apparently this is the fault of the materials present, and could not be digitally stabilized in post. If you are familiar with Arrow Video's release of Demons 2 the same basic thing is occurring here.
The color is also quite faded here, some minor color correction could have been helpful. There were moments in the beginning of the film where the 2 girls flesh tones seemed to blend together, alongside the bed sheets they were on top of. As stated I don't expect much in the way of restoration as per the usual efforts from Kino/Redemption, but a little work on this could have gone a long way.
The audio is presented in either English or French LPCM Mono tracks and optional English subtitles are included. Both tracks are quite suitable with dialogue coming through nice and clear, as does the music. I did detect a few minor moments of pops, cracking, and hissing on the track, but nothing too distracting.
Redemption/Kino have included trailers for other Rollin titles as the only supplement.
Schoolgirl Hitchhikers was a surprisingly fun film from Rollin using his Michel Gentil alias. The film effectively combines softcore sex, crime, comedy, and even elements of horror with the director's trademark style to create something unique and interesting. The A/V transfer is most certainly an upgrade from prior releases, but does leave much to be desired. If I were just reviewing the film it would be HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, the whole package however is simply Recommended.