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Fugitive Girls
(1974)

Director: "A. C. Stephen" (Stephen C. Apostolof)
Cast:
Margie Lanier, Jabie Abercrome, Rene Bond


In some aspects, those who love cinema deeply are living in a great age. Thanks to DVDs and Blu-rays, television, and online options like streaming, one is able to access a great deal of movies with barely an effort. Though in some other aspects, one could make an argument that these are the dark days of cinema. Though I do love trashy movies, there are times when I am in the mood for something more thoughtful - and a trip to your local multiplex will reveal that the number of thoughtful movies that are booked in theaters nowadays is much less than it was decades ago. And while there are plenty of cheesy movies to choose from nowadays, there is one kind of cheesy movie that is currently in serious short supply - the so bad it's good movie. In recent years, about the only so bad it's good movie that has been made and released is the now legendary Tommy Wiseau movie The Room. Past decades of filmmaking were filled with unintentionally hilarious movies, so why in recent decades has the output dwindled down to almost zero? This is something I discussed just a few months ago in my review of Attack Of The Beast Creatures. Thinking about it some more, I have come up with some possible answers. One reason is that better production values have managed to become easier to obtain, even for filmmakers working with a really low budget. Today's filmmakers have access to technology that could only be dreamed of by filmmakers in the past, ranging from digital cameras to special effects generated by a computer. Also, much of this technology is a lot cheaper than it was in the past, so filmmakers can get more out of their dollar today than years earlier.

Another possible reason why we don't see so many modern day unintentional laughfests on the silver screen might be distribution. In decades past, there were many distributors who would snap up just about any piece of crap and make sure it was seen by a sizable audience. Not anymore - I know that currently in the United States each year, a great deal of independent movies are made that never get seen at all. Distributors have become more picky, usually demanding that any movie they would consider buying has to not only be sizably commercial, but at least could be considered halfway decent. So it's likely that a great deal of unintentionally hilarious movies have been filtered out. But the biggest reason that I think that we don't get many unintentionally hilarious movies nowadays is that people have become a lot smarter and sophisticated. If you look at movies made decades ago, to some degree many of them have a more naive perspective. And audiences at the time these movies were made were more naive. As a result, movies like Reefer Madness at the time probably seemed hard-hitting to the filmmakers at the time, as well as hard-hitting to the audiences at the time. But in the decades that followed, filmmakers - as well as audiences - became smarter in many aspects. New filmmakers that emerged were nurtured and educated more than filmmakers in the past, and therefore made their movies with a lot more knowledge. Oh sure, many of these new movies turn out to be bad all the same. Just not in a hilarious manner.

Like I'm sure a lot of you feel, I like to watch the occasional unintentionally hilarious movie. But with modern pickings being quite slim, what is one to do? The only option is to dig Fugitive Girlsinto the past, and hopefully find one such movie you haven't seen yet. A few years ago, I came across such a movie - Fugitive Girls - that I subsequently decided to save for such an occasion like this. Probably you haven't heard of it before, which would be surprising, considering who co-wrote its screenplay - none other than Edward D. Wood Jr., the man behind such camp classics like Plan Nine From Outer Space and Glen Or Glenda. Not only did Wood contribute to the movie by helping to write the screenplay, he also makes a rare appearance in front of the camera in a small acting role. Though his appearance comes late in the movie, and there is plenty that happens before that point to tell you about. Let me start at the beginning of the movie. An establishing shot lets us know we are at a sleazy motel at night. We cut to a shot inside of the motel's units, where the camera slowly pans over discarded clothing and makes its way to the unit's bed. It's here that we meet the movie's main character, Dee (played by Margie Lanier), as well as her boyfriend. The two of them are in bed in their pyjamas talking deep about where their relationship is going. Just kidding - they are totally nude and going at it, though in a strange sex position where Dee is lying in a very uncomfortable position on the bed. Dee's boyfriend enthusiastically pounds on her over and over while we hear heavy breathing from both, though the gasps of pleasure don't seem to match their mouth movements.

Eventually, the pounding stops and both climax, afterwards having big smiles on their faces. Dee's unnamed boyfriend almost immediately afterwards notices they are out of booze. When Dee suggests the liquor store only a couple of blocks away, the boyfriend says he has a "special liquor store" across town where they won't have to pay. The two exit their room seconds later and drive across town to this liquor store. It doesn't take long for Dee to discover why her boyfriend says they don't have to pay for any booze at this liquor store. While Dee waits in the car outside, her boyfriend pulls out a gun while the liquor store's clerk's back is turned. Then when the clerk makes a threatening gesture, Dee's boyfriend shoots the clerk. Without grabbing anything, the boyfriend flees to the car and tells the stunned Dee to drive off. When she pauses for two seconds, her boyfriend then shoves her out of the car and drives off. Though Dee lands on the pavement on her legs, the one foot fall knocks her unconscious and she lies still while passer-bys race to the scene while exclaiming out loud that she was in on it. We then cut to the opening credits, credits that can't last longer than thirty seconds long. Though this short credit sequence is informative, because the few credits that are listed are in front of pulsing psychedelic colors. Obviously, the journey that is to follow is going to be one wild and crazy trip.

After the credits have displayed, we cut back to Dee, though obviously some time has passed since we last saw her, since she is in a police car driving in the countryside to a prison. Oddly, she is the only prisoner being transported to what will obviously be prison. Even odder, she is not only sitting in the front passenger seat next to the police officer driving the car, she is wearing a dress instead of prisoner togs. Anyway, a few seconds later, the police car drives through the gates of the "Correction Facilities For Women". Actually, there is no gate at the entrance. In fact, there is no fence surrounding the facility. Talk about a minimum security prison! In fact, the whole place looks like a summer camp, especially since when the car stops in the heart of the facility, a totem pole can be spotted nearby. Dee is processed offscreen and taken into the prison's living quarters, to where she's introduced to three prisoners. The three are convicted embezzler Toni (played by porn star Rene Bond), the butch Kat (soft core porn actress Tallie Cochrane), and token African-American Paula (Abercrombe). Later in the day, Dee and Toni are talking, and Toni reveals that the cash she stole is hidden in a safe place just waiting to be uncovered. An overhearing Paula mocks "white trash" Toni, and the two exchange some harsh words, words that quickly reveal that a break-out is being planned, which quickly gets Kat to shush the two up. A quick-thinking Dee says she hasn't heard anything, though Kat warns Dee that if she talks, she'll cut her t*its off.

Night falls, and all the prisoners are asleep altogether in their bunk room. That is, except for Kat and Dee. Dee is sobbing for some unknown reason. Maybe dinner wasn't up to expectations. Kat gets out of her bunk and walks to Dee. "Sound like you could use a friend... I can be a good friend," Kat tells Dee. In short notice, Kat shows just how friendly she is, exposing the breasts of a (very) weakly protesting Dee and starting some nipple licking and smooching. Eventually Kat gets Dee to take off her pants, and then... well, let's say things get as explicit as soft core can get. After Dee has a (loud) orgasm, she no longer has any issue with lesbianism, and proceeds to give Kat an equally explicit experience, leading to equally strong moaning and groaning. By the way, shame on you if you are thinking this sequence is blatant exploitation. Writer Wood and director Apostolof no doubt were inspired by a certain hit song by folk singer Stephen Stills released just a few years earlier; the character of Dee is no doubt following the philosophy of the song, which is, "If you can't be with the one you love, honey, love the one you're with."

Though Dee obviously enjoyed herself, the next day she pleads to Kat, Toni, Paula, and a fourth prisoner named Sheila (Donna Young) that she needs to get out. Maybe knowing that Kat is about to escape, she doesn't want the fun times to end. Anyway, Kat says that Dee will be accompanying the four escape schemers. You'd expect Dee to be thrilled, but a few seconds later she starts expressing serious second thought on the idea of escape, but it's no use - the other four insist Dee accompany them. So they immediate stop the card game they were playing, go out the door, and proceed to start their escape. As they sneak outside in the dark, they agree after some distance to go one at a time. They then proceed to continue their escape out of the prison bunched up together. A short time later, they reach a chain link fence - where did that come from? I guess it was put up between Dee's arrival and when all five women subsequently crawl under it.

Making their way into the countryside, the five women soon hear the blare of an alarm from the prison, though they continue their escape. As they proceed, it becomes very obvious these outdoor scenes were filmed with a day for night filter on the camera lens, seeing the great shadows cast by the women on the desert floor. Unless the full moon happens to be unusually strong in southern California. The five soon take cover when they see a prison patrol searching for them. As the patrol passes, one of the policemen states that "both" women (?) wouldn't strike out across the nearby swamp. A swamp in this semi-desert environment? Anyway, the five women manage to shake off their pursuers, since one of them was smart enough to sprinkle garlic powder along the way to throw off the dogs. Can garlic really throw off a dog? I recall an episode of Mythbusters where tracking dogs weren't thrown by pepper. Actually, I think that the humans in the search party were simply incompetent, because we see them pass through the same small area three times as they pursue their futile search for the women.

As the five women wait until the coast is clear, Kat tells a little about herself to Dee. Kat says she was once married, but she killed her husband not long after he starting pimping her out. His ultimate mistake was turning her on to chicks. "And I dug it!" says Kat with a smile. Soon the five resume their journey, and it isn't long before they hear some noise. They discover a hippie camp, where two hippie women are dancing topless while their menfolk make music with a guitar and slapping their thighs as they hoot and holler. Approaching the hippies, the five fugitive girls are welcomed to share the hippies' wine and food. As the five take in nourishment, the movie cuts back and forth several times between them and two hippies having extremely explicit sex in a variety of positions out in the open just a few feet away. The movie then abruptly cuts to the camp in the morning, where the women are grumbling over a poor tasting breakfast that consists (among other things) herb tea that they mistake for coffee. Soon they start insulting the hippies, asking if these freaks ever bathe. An insulted hippie responds with, "Water is for growing things... it's for drinking... we shouldn't pollute it with such things as our body waste!" (I guess they must really be dirty.) A few more words are exchanged, but the feud ends with the hippies making peace. In fact, the hippies realize that the women can't get anywhere wearing prison togs, so the hippie leaders tell their hippie women to take off their clothes and hand them to the fugitive girls. The hippie women promptly take off their clothes, and so do the fugitive girls. As the undressing and dressing is happening, the hippie leaders start lusting out loud for the fugitive girls. This angers Kat, and she promptly beats up one of the hippie leaders, and threatens violence to the other if they should lay one finger on her girls. "Oh, good Christ - a lesbian!" moans the hippie leader.

The women promptly leave the hippie camp and continue their journey in the wilderness, though after some time they have to take a break when their lice-infested clothing starts to bother them, forcing them to take off their shirts. Oddly, they put their shirts back on a minute later. They decide to rest until night falls. After the sun sets, the women make their way to a road, where they decide to flag down a car. One of the women manages to do so, and the male driver of the car feels he has struck gold picking up a pretty female hitchhiker. But after he's enticed out of the car, he's kneed in the groin, and the four other women leap out of hiding nearby and grab the driver. After delivering a few blows to him, the women decide what they must do with him. Paula says that's it's been a long time since she's had a man, so Kat allows Paula and one of the other women to drag the man into the bushes. They completely strip the man and proceed to rape the protesting man in another extremely explicit sex sequence. How he was able to perform against his will (and with a freshly kneed groin) is never answered. After the rape has ended, they allow the man to put on his shorts, though they tie his hands to his ankles so they can get away in his car.

Not long after the women drive off, they discover they are short on gas. They decide to pull off the road to a nearby airstrip to see if there is fuel available. Pulling up to a pump by a hangar, they soon meet the caretaker of the establishment. Guess who plays the caretaker - Ed Wood himself! Because of the day for night filter and the fact he's never shown close up to the camera, you don't get a good look at his face. But what you do get to witness from him is his performance, and as he welcomes the women and fills their gas tank, you get a generous serving of ham. The caretaker soon excuses himself and goes back to the hanger, having recognized the girls as being the escaped fugitives. Being just a few feet away, the girls hear him dial on the telephone and hear his out loud pleas to the sheriff to pick up the phone. But Kat grabs the phone just before the sheriff picks up, and she hits the caretaker on the head with it. Though it doesn't look like a heavy blow, the caretaker falls to the ground unconscious, and as he lies on the ground very still, Wood finally shows some convincing acting.

While the girls were getting fuel for their car, they were briefly spotted by members of a motorcycle gang, who decide to have some fun with the girls. One of the gang members lies in the middle of the highway to make it look like he was in an accident, while his fellow bikers hide in the nearby bushes. Shortly afterwards, the girls spot the downed biker and stop their car. When the "injured" biker gets up and his friends race out of the bushes, a scuffle starts. The women manage to beat the bikers unconscious, and they return to their car to continue their journey. Though the scene provides some action and some laughs with its lame choreography, I was disappointed - after all the sex before this point, I was sure the bikers and the women would have an orgy in the middle of the highway. Though the movie makes up for that deficiency with the next scene, returning to the man who was raped by the women. With his hands still tied to his ankles, the clad only in his shorts man is seen hopping along to the nearby highway. It's one of the most unintentionally (?) funny sights I have ever seen in a movie.

The women continue their journey, and there is still a significant amount of the movie to run from this point. Will the women get to the money that Toni stashed away before her imprisonment? Will Dee not only manage to get away from the dominating Kat, but manage to prove her innocence in that liquor store robbery and murder? I won't say, but I will mention that the rest of the movie manages to deliver more of what has been repeatedly displayed up to this point. There's more kinky sex and nudity, and there is more dopey dialogue and situations. All of which, of course, contributes to Fugitive Girls being a lot of fun to watch. I admit that I can't say that the movie is constantly hilarious. In my telling of the movie's plot, I have glossed over some slow parts, as well as some blatant padding. And I don't think I have emphasized just how unbelievably cheap the movie comes across, not just with the look of the prison camp as well as the day for night photography. But the movie more than makes up for it with all its dopey dialogue and situations. And being a horny movie critic, I must admit that I applaud the movie rampant nudity and sex sequences, which were the icing on this tasty cake. A word of warning, however, if you decide to take my advice and seek out this movie: Various editions of this movie, apparently including the DVD edition, heavily cut the nudity and sex sequences. Fortunately for me, I have in my movie collection the rare uncut version that was issued on VHS decades ago. If you have ever wondered why I still treasure my VCR in this day and age of PVRs and Blu-ray players, hopefully the review of this movie will answer that question.

(Posted March 20, 2017)

Check for availability on Amazon (DVD)

See also: Blood Freak, Hearts And Armour, The Third Society

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