I can think of no clever way to start this review other than to say, “What the heck did I just watch?” Seriously, I’m at a bit of a loss for words here. Perhaps I’m just an uncultured swine, fed too much wax-on-wax-off and exploding Death Stars to really appreciate film at its most artistic. Actually…no! That’s not true at all! This is just a bizarre film posing as a 70’s exploitation flick. Get ready for 1975’s Pick-Up.
We begin with two hippie chicks: wild girl Carol (Jill Senter) and the tarot card reading, astrology obsessed Maureen (Gini Eastwood). They’re just sitting in the long grass when they spy a guy named Chuck (Alan Long) and his RV…actually a full-sized bus decked out with kitchen, beds, shower, the works. The vehicle actually isn’t his, he’s just delivering it. Still, he offers them a ride, naturally they accept. Maureen, however, is a bit unsure about things.
As they make their way down the road, Carol stays up front with Chuck, smoking joints and flashing other cars. Meanwhile, Maureen stays in the back. Things are moving along fine until they hit bad weather and road closures. A detour ends up sending them down dirt roads into the Florida swamps, where they eventually get stuck.
This doesn’t faze Chuck and Carol, though. They quickly head out to frolic in the marsh, both with and without clothes. When Maureen emerges from the RV some time later, she sees a woman in a white gown walking toward her. She starts to say a bunch of mumbo jumbo about Apollo and gives Maureen a scepter. Then Maureen heads into the swamp where she finds a white marble table. She then strips down to nothing, lies on the table, and starts wriggling around. Oh wait, there’s more!
Before long we’re treated to flashbacks in the lives of our three heroes. We see Maureen as a teenager, though dressed like a young girl, being sexually assaulted by a priest. Carol’s flashback shows her first sexual encounter with a teenage boy in a tree.
Meanwhile, back in the real world (snicker) things are just as crazy. While Carol and Chuck are off having some naked time on a tree swing, Maureen is paid a visit by a senator up for reelection wearing a campaign button the size of a Dominos medium 2-topping pizza. A bit later, she encounters someone dressed as a clown prancing through the grass. We’re just getting started here folks!
When Maureen meets back up with the other two they head out on a boar hunt to get some food, after which Maureen decides to burn a hole in her hand with one of the sticks from the fire. After being bandaged up by Chuck, she walks with him out to the marble table where the two make love. Oh yeah, and the priest, the politician and the clown all stop by say hi!
Like I said, “What the heck did I just watch!?!?” Pick-up feels a bit like a film-school final project. Someone obviously thought they were creating something incredibly deep and meaningful here. Puh-leeeezz! Pretentious doesn’t even begin to describe this film! It tries so so hard to convince the viewer that it is oh so artistic, instead it takes a leap of a cliff and does a massive belly flop into ridiculousness.
Going into the film I really had no idea what to expect. Reading a simple synopsis of the film seems to suggest an exploitation romp. Two hot hippie girls and a guy heading across Florida in a souped-up RV…sounds like an exploitation formula to me. As the film got going, though, I was starting to wonder if we had a horror movie on our hands. I mean they get stuck in the middle of nowhere, Maureen is messing with tarot cards, not to mention the weird voices and ghostly woman in the swamp. By the time the clown showed up, though, all bets were off!
I will say that there was one area of the film that impressed me and that was the photography. The various shots of the trees and swamps are composed with great care and show a fair degree of skill in the visual aspect of storytelling. Too bad there’s no story here to go along with them. I’ll also concede that we do have a solid actress here in Gini Eastwood. She’s given such absurd things to do but at least manages to be an appealing screen presence.
So, like I said, maybe I’m just not cut out for this sort of stuff. There are some out there who see Pick-up as a spiritual journey. I, on the other hand, land in the camp of those who see it as barely watchable.