February 14, 2018

Movie Review: Pick-Up

There are some movies that you pick up to watch that you have absolutely no idea what to expect. Pick-Up is one of those movies. It is a movie that defies logic, sense, and in some cases attention span. I found, while being somewhat intrigued by the happenings in the movie, I had to stop and back it up a few times as I found myself dozing off. It is the first movie in a 32 movie box set of Drive-In Classics that I have watched since getting the set a long time ago. It was also released in a Grindhouse Classics branded double feature some years ago.

It was the one and only feature from directed by Bernard Hirschenson. He also served as cinematographer on films like Satan in High Heels. So far as the screenplay goes, it was written by John Winter, it is his only film credit. Released to the drive-in circuit in 1975, it feels, to me, like it was from a bit earlier, perhaps 1969 or 1970. On the surface, and through its advertising, it purports to be a hitchhiker-centric sexploitation picture. While it does have it's share of nudity, the reality of the story is much more care I say, daring and adventurous? Perhaps not, but it is considerably more surreal and obtuse than one would think of drive-in fodder. Whether this was by design or by accident, I could not say.

Pick-Up is something of a coming of age tale for three damaged young people. The three are just searching to find their way when they encounter each other, thus changing their lives forever. There really isn't much going on plotwise, it has a very stream of consciousness/make it up on the set feel to it. There is some structure as we get to character flashbacks, but it is minimal and does nothing to offer a reality dose to the surreal feel of the film. I am guessing this may be what it's like to take mushrooms.
The movie opens on a young man, Chuck (Alan Long), relieving himself outside a bus. In a nearby field are a couple of flower children Carol (Jill Senter) and Maureen (Gini Eastwood, no relation to Clint) are enjoying the tall grass, and the view. They catch Chuck’s eye and he invites them aboard for a lift. It turns out, the bus is actually a mobile home, that he is transporting for the owner. Before long they are forced off the main road where the get stuck in a Florida Everglades swamp.

Chuck and Carol go out to enjoy their surroundings, and each other. They frolic naked through the trees and grasses and have lots of sex as folksy songs play on the soundtrack. Maureen, however, is the somber one, staying behind to play with tarot cards and an acoustic guitar. Then the flashbacks come. We see what drove Maureen to be this somber young woman, how Carol found her promiscuity, and what led Chuck to want to get away from his mother. These scenes off minimal actual insight into the characters, other than to show that even when they were younger, they were still fully grown.

Everything sort of meanders around and just as the flashbacks, but then we get the hallucinations. I am still trying to piece together where they fit in. Clowns, goddesses of Apollo, I don't know what is going on here. It is clearly something other than a romp down sexploitation highway. Then there is that ending, I can tell you that it left me scratching my head.

Is Pick-Up any good? I have to say not really. Still, there is something to be said about its union of cheapie drive-in care, sexploitation, and surrealistic arthouse existentialism. I cannot say it is entirely successful, but even as interesting as moments were, there really is not much meat to keep me fully invested. It is a valiant effort, but it mostly put me to sleep.

Not recommended

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