Friday 4 February 2011

Take an Easy Ride

One definition of surrealism is “the chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella on a dissecting table”

Based on this, Take an Easy Ride could almost be classed as an inadvertently surrealist film on account of the way in which it brings together two seemingly incongruous paracinematic genres.

The first is the public information or service film – i.e. a non-profit film, usually made by official bodies, with the goal of modifying behaviour for the good of individuals and/or the collective.

The second is the exploitation film – i.e. a film made by private entrepreneurs with the intention of making money.

How the two came to be incorporated into the one film is reminiscent of a scenario out of Eskimo Nell. It seems that producer, director and editor Kenneth Rowles initially set out to make a serious film about the dangers of hitch-hiking. Then notorious porn/sexploitation mogul David Hamilton Grant, encouraged Rowles to spice things up with some extra sex and violence so the film could also be played on his sex film circuit.

The serious side of things is most evident in the voice-off and on-camera interviews with what seem like genuine members of the public for the most part.

The exploitation side is more to the fore in the three vignettes that make up the bulk of the 40 or so minute running time, which include voyeuristic low angle shots of mini-skirted women climbing into lorries; footage of Soho sex shops, strip clubs and cinema clubs and a selection of mostly inappropriate stock music cues.

The camera actually moves to get a better view here

Probably illegal now...

One of vignette actually blurs the distinction by beginning as an interview and then segueing into a flashback based reconstruction in which a young woman relates how she was picked up by a couple who took her back to their house, plied her with drink, and ultimately forced her into a porno rape styled no-means-yes threesome...

“I decided to take a bath... I was very surprised when I was joined by Margaret...”

The other two vignettes are more straightforward. One presents a cut-down version of Last House on the Left as a couple of young women hitch-hiking to a rock festival are picked up by a black-glove wearing, porn-magazine reading maniac intent on rape and murder...

Black gloves

Some slow motion here

The other presents something of a reversal of this, as another two young women go on a miniature crime-spree that culminates in their turning on one of the men who gives them a lift, almost like a prototype for a Baise moi or Butterfly Kiss...

Crudely made, unpleasant in that way that it often seems only 1970s exploitation can be and absolutely fascinating in that what-the-hell-were-they-thinking way.


Jonny said...

Don't know if you knew but this snuck out on DVD via Odeon last year in a 'Digitally remastered' edition

K H Brown said...

Yes, I saw that - the DVD also has the director's pilot for a TV series about a Go Go Dancing Detective, I believe.