Director: Jean-Marie Pallardy
Le Chat qui fume/MVD

Two decades before the Coen Brothers interpreted the same material with their depression era comedy O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?, French erotica director Jean-Marie Pallardy spun his own take on Homer's epic poem "The Odyssey", with TRUCK STOP. Merging the good ol’ boy swagger of SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT with liberal doses of nudity, Pallardy continues down the road he knows best, delivering a bawdy comedy that flirts with the Greek epic poem just enough to provide reason to showcase several lesbians love scenes, impromptu roadside fisticuffs and a truly terrifying Cyclops.

L' Amour chez les poids lourds, which roughly translated means "Love with the trucks", features director Jean-Marie Pallardy as Eugene/Ulysse, a truck driver who, along with his travailing companion Jeff, are sidetracked on their long journey home by a threesome of lesbian sirens. Drawn from their payload by the lusty vixens, the two men unwittingly find themselves guests of Calypso (Ajita Wilson, SADOMANIA), an ebony temptress who wishes to keep Eugene as her personal sex slave. Back home, Eugene’s wife Pamela/Penelope (Elizabeth Turner, CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE) is left to maintain the truck stop they both call home, all the while fending off the unwanted advances of her randy customers. With Eugene missing in action for such a long stretch, it becomes the working theory, at least with the truck stops regulars, that Pamela’s husband is lying dead on the side of the road somewhere. Such being the case, it’s only right that she take a new lover, for which she has many suitors. Refusing to accept the notion that her beloved is never to return, Pamela devises a round of contests to determine which of her horny patrons is the most qualified to take over as her new beau. Designed to do little more than bide her time, Pam’s contests prove useful in stalling, as well as torturing, her male customers, but it’s only a matter of time before her contestants catch on. Breaking free of Calypso’s enchantment, Eugene, determined to again be by his woman’s side, hits the road only to face obstacle upon obstacle on his long journey home.

What does it say about the film's casting director when Annik Borel (WEREWOLF WOMAN) is hired to play a transvestite and Ajita Wilson, an actual transsexual, is hired to play a sex starved love goddess? Their scripts had to have been swapped. Personally I've never understood the appeal of Ajita and according to the interview provided in this release's special features, Jean-Marie had some issues with her as well. Almost all of Ajita’s screen time is spent nude, in a pool, simulating fornication with Jean-Marie. In said interview, Jean-Marie makes it clear that while he had no problems with Ajita’s “situation”, a conscience effort was made during the filming of such intimate scenes, so as to make Pallardy appear as the “top” in the relationship. The actor/actress does thankfully share the screen with a host of far more appealing beauties including Elizabeth Turner, who sadly never disrobes but her lovely staff, including Ely Galeani (BABA YAGA), Paola Maiolini (EMANUELLE AROUND THE WORLD) and Nikki Gentile (THE SCHOOL TEACHER IN COLLEGE), are more than eager to please, as they clearly work for tips.

While there are a small handful of gags that hit their mark, most of the film's lighter moments are the credit of mistakes that were clearly not intentional. Pallardy regular Georges Guéret, who plays Jojo in the film, provides one such example every time he hits the open road. While his bumping up and down certainly gives the impression of a moving vehicle, the fact that the scenery outside of the driver's side window never moves, kills any such illusion. Failed low budget shortcuts aside, TRUCK STOP does entertain but unfortunately never reaches the level of enjoyment that EROTIC DIARY OF A LUMBERJACK does. The ladies however, at least the ones that were born ladies, are equally as beguiling and the idea behind the sexual contests is amusing. Particularly effective is the very first contest in which all of the Truck Stop patrons are lined up in front of two young ladies, with each man being forced to tie a small bell on a string from around his penis. The object of the game is not to rise in anyway, in which to make the bell ding, all the while watching as each of the two waitresses takes the other's order. Of course no one wins and Pam is forced to devise another contest as equally unattainable.

Released in the early 1980s by Media Home Entertainment through its Private Screenings line, Le Chat qui fume presents TRUCK STOP in a non-anamorphic 2.35: 1 aspect ratio that is less than stellar. The picture has a habit of rippling and fluttering, particularly early on, suggesting a dub from a European PAL prerecord. Colors fade to favor yellows and greens, and blemishes are lavish, but as the disc's case makes claim that the film was remastered with elements provided by Pallardy himself, this may be the best it's destined to look for some time. English dubbed audio is serviceable with both soundtrack and dialogue easy enough to follow, but a subtitle option would have been a nice.

Special Features include "The Erotic Journal of Jean-Marie", a 60 minute interview with the director that can also be also found on Le Chat qui fume's other Classics of French Erotica releases, EROTIC DIARY OF A LUMBERJACK and MY BODY BURNS. Extras are rounded out by a stills gallery of photographs taken from Jean-Marie’s private collection and trailers for other Pallardy films. Crossing the Atlantic, Le Chat qui fume provides attractive packaging for its initial dip into the U.S. market and while each of their three preliminary releases have had their own issues with presentation, the films themselves, save for MY BODY BURNS, are fun and provide for plenty of Euro Babe eye candy. (Jason McElreath)