Monday, March 12, 2018

THE YOUNG CYCLE GIRLS aka CYCLE VIXENS 1978


"Ravaged - robbed and busted from county to county"


     This sometimes-uneasy mix of feminism, EASY RIDER, exploitation and 70's road movies was a late entry in that decade's "R" rated drive-in fare and tardy in latching onto both the "road" and "biker" genres that proliferated earlier. Also channeling some of the dangers of the road plots from such films as JOYRIDE TO NOWHERE (1977), THUMB TRIPPING (1972) and GIRLS ON THE ROAD (1972) it's recently turned up in its uncut form after years of (rightly so, some would argue) obscurity and believe it or not this was something of a holy grail for me.
    It was produced by Peter Perry Jr. who spent the 60's producing & directing such soft-core sex films as the monster rally KISS ME QUICK (1965), THE NOTORIOUS FANNY HILL (1966) & THE JOYS OF JEZEBEL (1970) and directed by Jack Arnoldy who served as second unit director for JAILBAIT BABYSITTER (1977) and SUPERVAN (1977) among others. Perhaps both were looking to go legit and/or move up in food chain of film production but it their endeavor seems to have faded into obscurity quickly after release.



     Opening with a title card that reads "The Time.. Like Now..." we're introduced to sisters Sheila (Daphne Lawrence) and Sherry (Deborah Marcus) who along with their best friend Priss (Loraine Ferris) are getting bored with summer break in Boulder CO. Looking to take a breather from swilling beer with the locals from the back of a van at the local burger joint they impulsively decide to drive their motorcycles to California to "see the ocean". Sheila and Sherry parents while skeptical agree to the trip while Priss's parents forbade it necessitating her to ruff off without permission.
    They embark on the trip and run into various comedic and/or horrific situations and it's here that the film rears its schizophrenic nature. Unlike EASY RIDER whose characters found their journey darker as it progressed this film jumps from such lighthearted fare as the trio attempting to give a lift to a guy and his overweight girlfriend to a particularly brutal attack and rape sequence and a malicious policeman. In addition, the girls make some bone-headed moves throughout the film which doesn't help with our sympathies for them including flashing themselves at a creepy pervert peeping tom and inviting a very sketchy couple into their nighttime camp (both of which lead to tragic results).




    The cast is interesting in the fact that this their only acting credit across the board with the expected acting results in full display. The three leads are attractive and exceed a 70's sexy wholesomeness and to the films credit there is a modicum of effort to give them distinct personalities. The plot is sometime painfully padded with riding sequences (and a pinball game that stretches into whole minutes) with shots of the three riding abreast on an obvious towing rig as they randomly jiggle throttles and clutch handles.
    Filmed for the most part it would seem around the California's Mojave Desert, a sense of travel is conveyed by shots of state line signs with the girls giving a thumbs-up and pointing and there's some fascinating looks at vintage roadside America including billboards, diners and a stop at the now closed Lake Dolores Water Park in Newberry Springs, CA. - which gives our leads the opportunity to change into bikinis in full view of the camera. For anyone who came of age in the 70's there's a nostalgia tinged sequence where a group of teenagers lay on the hood of their cars while drinking beer and tuning their car radios to the same station ("Right on, tune it to 108") and ends with the classic deflowering of the nerd sequence by Sheila.




     There's a Byrds like country rock song (another nod to EASY RIDER) that plays endlessly on the soundtrack ("Cruisin'...Yeah cruisin' down the road...") until its forever drilled in your brain and the EASY RIDER-like downbeat ending is a bit of a jaw dropper but not surprising considering the films main influence in the Dennis Hopper/ Peter Fonda classic. The film closes with a head scratching trying-to-be art house sequence that only adds to the its all over the map approach.
      I first encountered this movie back in the 80's on a VHS rental where it was re-titled CYCLE VIXENS with three models on the cover straddling choppers looking they just stepped off the set of a hair metal band video. As part of my all-encompassing desire to view biker films I was very disappointed after discovering it played out like a TV movie and I had the distinct feeling something was missing. Awhile back I discovered this DVD and happily found it contained the uncut version with the requisite "R" rated content intact under the original title. Hey, it doesn't take a lot to make me happy.









     


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