Cycle Vixens (1978)

Three young girls living in a small Colorado town decide to take a trip on their motorbikes to California “to see the ocean”. Two of the girls are sisters and go with the blessing of their widower father. The third has to sneak away from her strict parents. What follows is a long series of tragicomic misadventures. These “female hitchhiker” movies are one of my favorite 1970’s exploitation genres(if they can really be called a “genre”). This is a little different in that the girls are on motorcycles rather than hitch-hiking, but otherwise this is in very much the same vein as movies like “Thumb-Tripping”, “Girls on the Road”, “Joyride to Nowhere”, “The Hitchhikers”, “Teenage Hitchhikers”, etc. As in these other movie, there isn’t so much a plot here as a random series of picaresque adventures.

This particular movie is really a confused mixture of feminism and exploitation. The girls get peeped on, molested, and even raped by about every guy they meet, but they also manage to stick together and eventually take revenge on all these loutish males. In some ways this very low-budget movie actually anticipates the later Hollywood blockbuster “Thelma and Louise”. It’s too low-budget and exploitative to quite be the feminist fantasy that movie was, but it’s not entirely just a male fantasy either (despite the tight shorts and somewhat loose morals of the three protagonists). In a typical scene, for instance, two of the girls are rolling a number in a gas station bathroom when they see a male pervert spying on them, so they respond by flashing theirs breasts and asses at him (yeah, THAT’LL teach him). But after he (perhaps understandably) actually approaches them, they beat the hell out of him and run him off.

This movie definitely has its problems. It’s even more low-budget than most of these type of films. The dialogue is very banal and the acting is atrocious. The single theme song gets very irritating and the end is both an egregious rip-off of a much more famous movie and is also very weak to boot. As an exploitation film it’s pretty tame compared to some of the other “female hitchhiker” movies (like “Teenage Hitchhikers”),and it’s definitely tame compared to many of co-director Bethel Buckalews other films (like “Sassy Sue” and “The Pigkeeper’s Daughter”). Still, it’s pretty unfair to criticize a low-budget movie simply for being low-budget. And while I’m not going to say it’s technically a better movie than “Thelma and Louise”, I find its confused message and its strange mixture of feminism and exploitation far more HONEST (with the exception of the crappy ending anyway) than that of the slicker, more “politically correct” Hollywood film.