The only directorial credit of one 'Gerri Sedley' is 1975's Teenage Hitch-hikers, a strange mix of road movie wanderings and graphic, though softcore, sexual shenanigans. The film, written by Rod Whipple (credited as a producer on the XXX film Couples made the same year), follows the exploits of two young women - Mouse (Chris Jordan, who appeared in many a Joe Sarno movie) and Bird (Sandra Peabody, better known as Sandra Cassell from The Last House On The Left) - who are having a hard time getting anyone to help them on their journey west. After showing a bit of skin, they're lucky enough to get picked up by a band travelling in an RV with a pair of groupies, but when the band members make it pretty clear they want payment of a carnal kind for giving them a lift, the girls understandably get out and hit the highway again.
The girls travels take them to a river where Bird somehow manages to catch a horny lake trout in her underwear, and then later to a dinner where they tease a soda jerk and a middle aged male customer by dancing around in their underwear hoping to get a meal out of it. It doesn't work, and eventually they decide that it's time to start taking advantage of people to make some money and maybe get a car. When the girls get into trouble with the cops when they're pulled over and found in some rather uncompromising positions with a door to door clothing salesman (Peter Carew), they're warned about an escaped rapist (Ric Mancini) and told not to hitch-hike. That same rapist chases a young girl who they wind up saving a girl named Jennie (Nikki Lynn) from his predatory ways. From there the three team up to blackmail a strange man into giving them some wheels before falling in with a strange lesbian (Claire Wilbur) and eventually winding up at a big hippy orgy (look for cameos from seventies XXX stalwarts Mark Stevens and Eric Edwards) lead by a quirky gay man.
There's a deeper connection to the New York City porn industry of the 1970s than just Whipple's writing credit. Cameos from Stevens and Edwards indicate that there might be more to the Gerri Sedley credit than the singular contribution implies - was he somehow involved in the adult scene? It wasn't uncommon at the time for XXX filmmakers to cross back and forth between adult work and mainstream work, just ask Wes Craven, Bill Lustig and Abel Ferrara. Though Jordan never did any hardcore work, her affiliation with Sarno and the fact that she appeared in so many of his movies would indicate she probably knew people in the scene, and the involvement of Claire Wilbur, from Metzger's The Score can lead us to similar conclusions. The sex in the film, presented here full strength, isn't of the hardcore variety but it's strong enough to have crossed well past the R-rating it received in certain markets where it would have had to have played in a truncated version. Outside of the cast, seemingly anyone involved in this film has only the one credit to their name save for sound man Ron Harris and camera man Bill La Mond, again indicating that people might have been using pseudonyms here. It's certainly professional enough in terms of cinematography, pacing, editing and style to indicate that the people who made it were reasonably experienced. Assistant Editor Judy Lennon, if her imdb credits are to be trusted, dabbled in cutting a couple of porno films including Claude Goddard's notorious roughie, Snowbound, starring Jamie GIllis
Jordon and Peabody make for likeable leads here. While they're basically taking advantage of anyone they can, not always the most likeable of qualities, they do so with a wink and a nod and a great sense of humor and actually prove pretty capable in the comedic timing department. There are a couple of scenes where the joke goes on too long - a moment where, along with Lynn they try on clothes in a boutique much to the delight of the peeping tom shopkeeper could have easily been cut in half - but generally the picture goes by at a good clip and never overstays its eight minute running time. Not all of the comedic bits work as well as others, but the good outweighs the bad and the film is funny enough to succeed. The sex is graphic, even by the standards of a seventies drive-in film, and the nudity quite plentiful. Fans of low budget seventies sex films ought to get a kick out of this one.
NOTE - THIS REVIEW IS BASED ON A TEST DISC AND MAY NOT REPRESENT FINISHED, RETAIL PRODUCT:
Teenage Hitch-Hikers arrives on DVD in a pretty decent 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. While it doesn't look to have been fully restored, the age related color quirks and periodic instances of mild print damage don't detract from the viewing experience much at all. There are a few spots where the colors are a bit faded but generally we're left with a reasonably strong looking picture. Detail is fine, contrast is good, and black levels are consistent and strong. Skin tones, of which there are plenty on display, very rarely look just a bit on the pink side but are otherwise pretty lifelike. Those with an affinity for seventies exploitation films should have no problem with the presentation on this disc. It's not pristine, but it doesn't need to be.
The sole audio option on this release is an English language Dolby Digital Mono sound mix. Dialogue is clean and clear and there aren't any problems with anything but the mildest instances of hiss. If you're not listening for it, you're not likely to notice it. You'll have no problem understanding the performers and the score is mixed in quite well with the dialogue and sound effects, complimenting the actors and actresses rather than drowning them out.
The most substantial extra on the disc is a commentary track with camera operator Bill La Mond, moderated by Jeff McKay and 'Joe.' For some reason the audio is pretty shrill sounding on the track, sounding poorly compressed and rather harsh in spots. Regardless, the commentary is okay. La Mond talks about how he got into the film, noting that the director had a career in the commercial business which he used to make this picture, and he confirms that 'this picture is all pseudonyms.' He notes the crew was small, about six people, and describes the shoot as fun, but hard work. There are some slow spots where La Mond doesn't have a ton to say, but he hasn't seen the movie in some time and the fact that anyone involved in this oddity has been tracked down to talk about the movie is something in and of itself. As the track progresses it gets a bit sillier, pointing out 'beaver shots' and the like, but there is some good information in here when La Mond's memory is working well.
Aside from that, there's a still gallery of ad mats and related artwork for the film, a trailer reel that contains roughly half an hour's worth of unrelated trailers for different exploitation films (lots of Laura Gemser and nazisploitaion in here), menus and chapter stops.
The extras aren't' mindblowing but even if the commentary is erratic the transfer is solid enough as is the audio. As to the film itself? Teenage Hitch-Hikers isn't for the puritanical viewer, rather, it's very much a product of its time as it delivers all manner of scenes of wanton sexuality and screwy comedy. It's hardly a politically correct film, but that's half of its charm right there. Enjoy it as a time capsule or as eighty minutes of attractive naked women and cornball humor, but either way the film is a blast and comes recommended to those with an appreciation for such things.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.