Director: Jean Rollin (as Michel Gentil)
Kino Lorber/Redemption/Salvation/Jezebel

Judging by the American title, one might think this is the French equivalent of a German “Schoolgirl Report” entry, but SCHOOLGIRL HITCHHIKERS (Jeunes filles impudiques) is actually a softcore/crime/comedy directed by Jean Rollin under the nom de plume Michel Gentil, the name he used for a number of non-horror, sex oriented films (and by the way, there's no schoolgirls or hitchhiking involved). Kino Lorber presents the film on Blu-ray for the first time through Redemption/Salvation’s Jezebel umbrella.

Two beautiful young women — brunette Monica (Joëlle Coeur, THE DEMONIACS) and blonde Jackie (Gilda Arancio, ZOMBIE LAKE) — are hiking through the woods when they decide to trespass onto the property where an empty villa is for sale. Finding the large house somewhat dilapidated but fully furnished, they make themselves comfortable in one of the upstairs bedrooms and engage in some heavy lesbian petting. Later that night, a mustached, scarred thug named Pete (Willy Braque, LIPS OF BLOOD) enters the house, but he doesn’t belong there either and is just using it as a hideout. When Monica sees the downstairs light on, instead of panicking she easily seduces the stranger (they end up rolling around on the floor) and are later joined by Jackie, who is all too willing to make it a threesome.

The next morning the two girls wave goodbye and set off to make camp nearby. In the meantime, two other seedy characters — dragon lady-like Béatrice (Marie Hélène Règne) and her quiet henchman (Pierre Julien) — show up looking for some valuable jewels. When the safe is opened, the goods (or “junk” as referred to in the English dubbed version) are missing and when Pete is questioned about it, he can only deduce that the girls took off with them. Monica and Jackie are soon found on the outskirts and kidnapped, as Jackie is then tied up and tortured (neither girl knows anything about the missing jewels). Monica is able to escape by luring the henchman with her shapely body and hitting him over the head with a canister. She makes her way to the office of a private detective (François Brincourt), who along with his pony-tailed secretary (Reine Thirion), go back to the house with Monica to check out her wild story. They eventually run into the three thieves; Jackie is set free, and in return Monica is held hostage as the private dick tries to put at end to the confusing caper and all the bondage and double crossing.

Establishing itself with two attractive lesbians on the run and intruding into a gothic house, SCHOOLGIRL HITCHHIKERS almost starts off with the familiarity of one of Rollin’s vampire flicks, but the mix of light softcore scenes (Braque, the only actor in the film who really gets down with the two leads, leaves his pants on during intercourse) and a thin crime plot is played out basically as an excuse to show naked females and indulge in a few fetishes. And that’s not a bad thing since Arancio and especially Coeur are both gorgeous (Coeur made a few films for Rollin and appeared in a number of non-pornographic erotic romps before disappearing from French cinema in the mid 1970s). She’s nude throughout most of the film, whether seducing her girlfriend, the male thieves or getting into a catfight which results in her top being torn to shreds. Though Arancio is seen tied up and tortured (hot poker to the skin, thrashings to the torso and some weird breast twisting with a large pair of pliers), everything from the sex to the violence is executed in a light, frolicking manner (the film’s heavies, despite what they do, always feel impcopetent and non-threatening). Rollin directs the film almost as though it was a send-up of exploitation cinema, and if one takes it in such a way, it can be enjoyable, especially with the amount female flesh on display. The drum-driven, jazzy score by Pierre Raph (REQUIEM FOR A VAMPIRE) adds to the frivolity (several passages resemble the start of Bo Donaldson and the Heywood’s 1974 hit cover of “Billy Don’t Be a Hero”) and Rollin himself shows up on screen during the film’s climax.

First released on U.S. DVD in 2007 as part of a “Grindhouse Experience” box set from Videoasia, with a much shorter running time, Salvation presents on Blu-ray the full uncut version (though the film still runs a brisk 79 minutes) in a far better transfer than their 2010 stateside non-anamorphic DVD (which apparently went OOP fairly quick). Mastered from the original 35mm negative in a 1.66:1 anamorphic ratio in 1080p HD, the Blu-ray doesn’t look quite as good as some of the other titles in Kino Lorber’s line of Redemption’s cult films, but it’s still satisfying overall. The original elements show some wear in the form of scratches and specs, and there’s some picture jitter that appears periodically. Although colors appear correct, they are a tad dull, especially skintones. The image is generally sharp throughout, and the mono audio is presented in both the original French, as well as the English-dubbed track. Aside from some occasional hiss and pops, both tracks are trouble free and optional English subtitles are included for the French track. The only extras on the disc are trailers for other Jean Rollin titles available on Blu and DVD through Kino/Redemption. (George R. Reis)