Release Date(s)1973 (March 19, 2013)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: C+
- Audio Grade: B-
- Extras Grade: D-
Jean Rollin’s Schoolgirl Hitchhikers is the latest title from Kino Lorber’s Jezebel off-shoot label, dedicated to releasing vintage adult films from years past. While I can’t say I’m an expert on these films, I found the title to be intriguing enough for a review.
The film tells the story of two young girls hiking and camping through the countryside. Along their travels they stumble upon a seemingly abandoned house, wherein they are discovered by a strange man who wants to “adopt them” as he says. Many pleasures are had by all until they find themselves in the middle of a jewel heist. They are soon tortured when they are accused of stealing the jewels that turn up missing. It’s a pretty thin story, but for a film attempting softcore pornography, it’s certainly not the worst plot device I’ve ever heard of.
Jean Rollin, under the pseudonym Michel Gentil, made the film in 1973. He is best known for his erotic horror films released on the Redemption label, such as The Living Dead Girl, but he also liked to dabble in erotica, both softcore and hardcore. Schoolgirl Hitchhikers is beautifully-photographed. It has plenty of odd camera angles and dolly shots to keep things interesting instead of just static. It’s sexy enough to hold a viewer’s interest most of the time too. The plot itself is kind of boring at times, but it’s still a nice framework. Most of the erotic scenes take place in the first half of the film anyways, with the plot taking up the rest. I wouldn’t call it a masterpiece, but it manages to find its mark and hit it pretty well.
The team at Kino Lorber have chosen to present the film on Blu-ray as is, with no digital enhancement, not even the normal amount. The image is filled with film scratches, horizontal and vertical lines, and other imperfections of the like. The film also suffers from an unfortunate amount of image instability. According to the covert art, “the film periodically suffers from an unstable image, due to a camera malfunction during production”. It’s actually a good 80% of the film. In a way, this is a good thing because it shows you just how much work goes into restoring other films to make them look good. While the film has a strong amount of image detail, a healthy color palette, deep blacks, decent skin tones and excellent contrast, the lack of restoring or clean-up serves as both a deterrent and an enhancement. You can go either way with it really, depending on your own personal preference.
For the audio, you get two choices: French and English-dubbed Mono DTS-HD. I actually prefer the French over the English dub, and not just because I prefer to watch it the way it was intended, but because the French speak makes the film sexier by contrast. It’s a healthy and mostly clean track, with a little bit of hiss, crackle and popping here and there. It seems to have been given the same amount of treatment as the video, which again, is not all together bad. Dialogue is nice and audible and the score is very clear, as well. It’s a good track, and much more satisfying than the English dub. Aiding the presentation are subtitles in English, so if you want to follow the plot, you won’t be left out if you listen to it in French.
Unfortunately, the only extras that have been included are four theatrical trailers for other Jean Rollin titles: The Rape of the Vampire, Lips of Blood, Fascination and The Living Dead Girl. Overall, this is a nice adult title from the Jezebel label. I find it fascinating that they left in the shape that it’s in without digitally restoring it, although most will probably object to it. I think for what it is, it works in this instance. Schoolgirl Hitchhikers is not amazing film, but it’s pleasing enough, and looks decent enough on Blu-ray.
- Tim Salmons