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(aka "Hot Summer Week" or "Girls on the Road" or "Two on the Road")

 

directed by Thomas J. Schmidt
USA 1973

 

Bookish Karen (Dianne Hull, CHRISTMAS EVIL) and cheerleader Debbie (Kathleen Cody) graduate high school and decide that by the time they return from their summer roadtrip they will no longer be wallflowers. Expressing their freedom by going bra-less, weaving across lanes in their borrowed Trans-Am, flashing motorists and causing accidents, the two seek out cute hitchhikers to deflower them (heedless of the string of murders of young women along the coast). After a couple "comic" encounters with hippies and gay hitchhikers, they pick up handsome Will (Michael Ontkean, TV's TWIN PEAKS), a traumatized Vietnam Vet on his way back to the "Institute for Higher Consciousness" encounter group in Big Sur. After dropping by the institute for a talk with his guru John (THE WALTONS' Ralph Waite) - and a chance for the girls to be creeped out by the hippies including The Maker (John McMurtry) who turns onlookers into players in his fantasies - Will accompanies the girls to Debbie's parents' beach house up the coast. Will spends the night with the girls after being knocked out by hippie squatters but Karen has disappeared. Is she the latest victim and is Debbie alone with the killer? Co-written by David Kaufman and Michel Levesque (who directed WEREWOLVES ON WHEELS written by Kaufman), GIRLS ON THE ROAD is definitely a product of its time and not the straightforward psycho thriller it seems to be (besides the posters pictured above, the US video art depicted a shot two girls in a convertible on a road in the background and the figure of a male hitchhiker holding an axe behind his back in the foreground). Parts of it feel like a middle-aged attempt at skewering the counter culture until one realizes that Debbie and Karen are not characterized as representatives of the movement but middle-class wannabes who equate sex and pot with personal liberation (Debbie is unnerved by the commune but Karen wants to belong). The film also contrasts the professional indifference to Will's anxieties (depicted with the usual echoey voices, wavy opticals, sickly green tints, and war stock footage) with the encounter group's message of "living now" as an attempt at escaping his haunted past. Exploitation-wise, the film is a bit tame and takes its time transitioning from dread to more overt danger. The ending is a bit too abrupt but the red herrings are all loopy enough to make it difficult to guess the killer's identity.

Eric Cotenas

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Theatrical Release:

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DVD Review: Scorpion Releasing - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Scorpion Releasing

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:19:24
Video

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.33 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Scorpion Releasing

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Maker: an Interview with writer David M. Kaufman (4:3; 8:34)
• Remembering Thomas J. Schimdt: an Interview with cinematographer David Walsh (4:3; 9:50)
• Alternate GIRLS ON THE ROAD Title Sequence (4:3; 2:19)
• GIRLS ON THE ROAD trailer (16:9; 1:49)
• Trailers for POINT OF TERROR (16:9; 2:22), THE DEVIL WITHIN HER (4:3; 1:01), NOTHING BUT THE NIGHT
• (16:9; 2:49), and CHEERLEADERS WILD WEEKEND (16:9; 2:17)

DVD Release Date: 31 August 2010
Amaray

Chapters 12

 

Comments

Scorpion present the film in an anamorphic, single-layer, progressive transfer with English mono audio. Apart from the reel change marks and some vertical scratches at those points, the print is very clean (grain looks natural and the softness of some moving shots seems to be a result of the original cinematography) and the audio is clear. Scorpion have also included the alternate GIRLS ON THE ROAD title sequence from videotape. Although that title is listed as the original title on IMDb and is the title under which the film is best known, the title card is presented here as a freeze frame while the HOT SUMMER WEEK title on the print is presented as part of the background (on the newspaper covering the bosom of a sunbather) like the rest of the credits in this cost-effective but creative sequence.

Co-writer David M. Kaufman contributes an interview in which he says that director Thomas Schmidt radically changed his script and mentions some of the differences (including the identity of the killer and the considerably more violent content) and expresses bewilderment at the finished film's relatively positive reception. Cinematographer David Walsh fondly recalls the late director (who had previously been assistant director on HALLELUJAH TRAIL) who died suddenly in 1975. He recalls the film more fondly than Kaufman (although he intimates that he didn't think it was well-written). Both contributors mention the casting boon of star Ontkean and co-star Waite. The film's trailer - under the GIRLS ON THE ROAD - title and trailers for other upcoming Scorpion Releasing titles round out the package.

  - Eric Cotenas

 



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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution

Scorpion Releasing

Region 0 - NTSC

 

 




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