Monday, September 25, 2017

Pick-Up (1975)

I've begun working my way through Mill Creek's "Drive-In Cult Classics: 32 Movie Collection," which is comprised entirely of films from the Crown International catalog. That studio was (is?) one of the biggest names in cult, exploitation, and low-budget fare; when I think of the seventies grindhouse movies with chunka-bow-bow funk scores and flashy cinematography, I'm becoming more and more aware of the role Crown International actually played in creating those cliches.In researching these movies from the set, I'm seeing a lot of one-sentence or one-paragraph reviews, as if the craziness or brilliance or cheesiness contained in each Crown International movie could be  encapsulated or dismissed with a single statement. I was bothered by the trend, so here's my attempt to do service to the movies that demand more than that (some of them don't demand more than that), starting with a movie that I don't think has gotten its due.

Pick-Up is a 1975 film that seems ill-defined by the poster above. This is not unusual for a grindhouse-style movie, but it seems to me that the posters for these cheap drive-in flicks are usually a lot better than the movies, not the other way around, which is the case here. The plot: two hippie girls (Carol and Maureen) are hitchhiking their way through Florida when this dude named Chuck stops in a huge mega-bus to take a leak by the side of the road. The bus is awesome, the kind that a band like Foghat would use for their American world tour, or that Stillwater drove in Almost Famous, only nicer. Chuck has to get the bus to Tallahassee (to that sweet sassafrassy), but he's not really in a hurry, as evidenced by his laid-back demeanor and affection for jazz cigarettes. Within minutes of the title screen, the trio are on the bus, partying, smoking pot, and getting lost. When a big storm blows in, the gang find themselves stranded in the middle of the Everglades with no idea how to get back on track. The next 80 minutes is a journey of self-discovery and some *really* trippy visuals.