Take An Easy Ride
"Every motorist has the opportunity to pick up a hitch-hiker.
For a lorry driver or commercial driver, it could cost them their job.
At times you could wish the wife and kids were out of the way as you pass
the mini-skirt thumbing a lift. The producers of this film wish to give
you the opportunity to decide for yourselves whether hitch-hiking should
be banned. Is it a form of Russian roulette?"
Have you ever wondered what a cross between an old public information
film, a sex comedy and Wes Craven's Last House On The Left might
look like? No? Neither had I, quite frankly. But then I saw Take An
Easy Ride, and now I know, whether I wanted to or not, because it's
all there in its 38 minute running time.
Watching Take An Easy Ride is an uncomfortable experience. Any
film that attempts to ram home the "do you know where your
children are?" message whilst offering titillation to the dirty mac
brigade is always going to be. Unfortunately, the heavy-handed moralising
is rendered pretty much redundant by a variety of early 70s clichés
which bring a huge amount of hilarity for us more enlightened 21st century
Much of the film is presented in the style of a documentary, complete
with jaunty music and serious voiceover. There's even what looks like
a couple of "real" talking heads in amongst all the obvious
fakery. But don't worry, this isn't some kind of Blair Witch style
mockumentary - any attempts for a verite feel are quickly abandoned by
the film makers in order to shoehorn in a quick bit of soft porn group
The makers of Take An Easy Ride appear to want to provoke an argument
about hitch-hiking. Is it a cheap and fun way for the long-haired youngsters
of today to get around, or is it, as explained in the introduction, "a
form of Russian roulette"?
By the end, it's pretty obvious what those film makers believe, thus rendering
the argument redundant (although the arguments about what the bloody hell
they were thinking making it in the first place must have carried on long
into the night).
The film opens with the above quote playing over some very chipper music
and pictures of the open road, then jumps to some talking heads being
"questioned" by the voiceover man - some seemingly real, others
obviously not: "There 'as been fairly recent reports of young girls
" reads a Cockney off his cue cards, unconvincingly,
adding: "And vice-versa!"
The narrative takes the form of several unlinked hitching tales - two
girls on their way to a festival run into trouble, a sexy blonde foreign
hitcher ("Excuse me, do you hitch-hike?" asks the voiceover
as she is stopped in the street. "Oh yes, I used to hitch
she replies, "but it's not a pretty story."), two girls on their
way to the same festival don't run into trouble, and a pair of busty criminals
turn to murder.
In the interests of the reader's sanity, I'll split the rest of this review
into the stories themselves, rather than trying to keep the flow of the
film (which is vaguely confusing).
A lorry driver picks up a couple of girls, but after an unpleasant
scene in a transport café which portrays every other trucker in
the country as a leering perv, he turns out to be the one nice apple in
the barrel, despite taking surreptitious glances at their bare legs whilst
Two meaty 30-something ladies steal a knife from a transport café
and jiggle away as fast as their platforms will allow. After an unconvincing
spot of pot smoking in a field ("It's good dope" / "Where
d'you fancy next? London?" / "Oh, sod that." / "We
need a whole new scene." / "Yeah, a completely different trip."
All delivered in bored RADA accents) they get a car to pull over and stab
the surprised looking driver to death, his last words being: "Hey,
is this a joke?"
Our leggy Swedish blonde gets picked up by a Rolls Royce and ends
up spending the night in a hotel with the middle class couple who offered
her a lift. Before you can say "pure exploitation" she's involved
in a semi-consensual steamy three way sex sesh with saucy Margaret and
distinctly portly Alan. "After I got away from that scene, I went
to the police - but they never caught him," she tells us, before
informing us in a monotone that her boyfriend then finished with her,
because she fell pregnant.
Wondering what I meant by linking in with Last House On The
Left? The main story involves a couple of young girls who want to
go and see a band called "Magic Wand". Despite one girl being
given enough money by dad for both their train fares, the other one decides
they'd be better off hitching and saving the money. They get picked up
by a bloke in a convertible with a West Country accent (the man, not the
car) whose face we never see, just his black gloves. We already know he's
a wrong 'un who keeps porn in his glove compartment and enjoys the company
of strippers (shades of Night
After Night After Night there, too). When it becomes apparent that
he's driving them away from their destination and into much darker,
tree-lined roads (cue spooky music and much close-up eye acting), the
girls begin to get nervous. He pulls up by a river and subjects them both
to particularly vivid sex attacks (the second one even more protracted
than the first - don't worry, you don't actually see anything but it's
still an unpleasant scene).
The girls are found and the nice girl's parents informed, the Police Inspector
sensitively asking the mum: "I must know if your daughter was in
the habit of taking lifts
whether she went out with a man, or men,
On arrival at the hospital, any pathos or distress this gruelling segment
may have brought on instantly evaporates when the parents are told by
the doctor, in a matter-of-fact tone: "There's one thing you must
she is blind."
The film finishes with the police heading off, sirens blaring, to (presumably)
another hitch-hiking - related disaster, and the gloved nutter pulling
over to pick up two more girls.
So, what do we learn from Take An Easy Ride? That no-one should
ever let director / producer / editor Kenneth Rowles near a camera again,
for one thing
Is hitch-hiking a good thing? Any sensible person
already knows the answer to that one - although it has to be said that
judging by this film, it's the number one pastime (either as hitcher or
hitchee) for any perverts, killers or badly dressed Swedish porn actresses