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- Published on Amazon.com
Two young girls, Karen (Dianna Hull) and Debbie (Kathleen Cody), hit the wide-open road in search of kicks, ignoring the fact that a serial killer is murdering young women along the beach of California's Big Sur. They rent a car, drive recklessly (a cop gives Karen a ticket for throwing her bra out the window) and screw with the heads of a series of hitch-hikers (including two gay guys), nearly hitting one guy on the side of the road. These girls are nothing but two spoiled brats who only care about themselves. Also on the road hitch-hiking is recently-released manic depressive Army soldier Will (Michael Ontkean), who we see in the beginning of the film beating up two guys playing pool in a bar for no reason at all, after having a flashback (which he has frequently) with his Army psychiatrist (who releases Will after telling him that the Army has done all they can). Will may also be the serial killer on the loose. Karen and Debbie pick up Will and he brings them to the Institute For Human Potential, a hippie encounter group run by Will's old friend John (Ralph Waite). John tells Will to ditch the Army uniform ("It's a false identity.") if he wants to stay at the Institute. Karen and Debbie catch the eye of The Maker (John McMurtry), a creepy Institute teacher and old Army buddy of Will's. The trio then go to Debbie's parents' beach house, where a bunch of hippies are squatting. One of them knocks out Will and they take off. When Will comes to, he grabs his gun and goes after them. When nighttime comes and Will doesn't return, Debbie and Karen go back to the Institute looking for him. John returns with them to the beach house, where they find a groggy Will waiting by the door. John invites the girls to come back to the Institute in the morning and walks back to the Institute. Karen goes by herself to the Institute the next morning (She says, "I feel loved!" after the encounter group lifts her up in the air in unison), while Will and Debbie spend some alone time on the beach. That night, one of the Institute's women, Frances (Pamela Serpe), is murdered. Karen takes off her top and makes a play for Will, but he rebuffs her. Will returns to the Institute, where The Maker accuses him of killing Frances. We then find out who the killer really is, but stupid girls Karen and Debbie shoot Will with his own gun. The killer (who has a hatchet) meets the girls outside the beach house, we hear a shot and then see a freeze-frame of the killer's face. The End. This early 70's exploitation film, directed by Thomas J. Schmidt (his only directorial effort; he died at age 35 in 1975), is a severely-dated road movie full of long-haired hippies in bell bottom pants, hippies in communes and hippies being hassled by the fuzz. There were so many hippies, I nearly broke out the bug spray. Much of the film's philosophies (free love, going braless, homosexuality) seem archaic and simple-minded today as do the scenes of body painting and group encounters (not to mention the "far-out" dialogue). Scripters Michel Levesque (who also directed WEREWOLVES ON WHEELS  and the WIP flick SWEET SUGAR ), Larry Bischof and Gloria Goldsmith have crafted a story that spends way too much time on the commune life and not enough time on the murder mystery. Once we get the reveal on who the real killer is, it's way too late to care. Karen and Debbie care nothing about anyone's feelings and tease every man they run across, never putting out for anyone. I was hoping these two girls would get abused in some way to teach them a lesson but, except for the oblique ending, they do very much what they please and get away with it. For a film about free love, there's precious little nudity and there's even less blood. I This film is only of interest if you want to see an early film appearance by Michael Ontkean (who would do TV's THE ROOKIES next) and watch Papa Walton himself, Ralph Waite, sporting dashikis, spouting inane hippie psychobabble and trying to get it on with Karen. It's not a pretty sight. Also starring Michael Kopsche, Elizabeth Saxon, Paul Sorensen, Cliff Emmich and a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo from Uschi Digard. The clever opening credits are shown as a series of bumper stickers, hand-painted signs and graffiti on a wall. Also known as HOT SUMMER WEEK. Released to theaters by Joe Solomon's Fanfare Corporation (THE LOSERS - 1970) and now available on a great-looking DVD in its original OAR from Scorpion Releasing.