• Fugitive Girls



    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: January 30th, 2018.
    Director: Stephen C. Apostolof (as A.C. Stephen)
    Cast: Rene Bond, Jabie Abercrombe, Tallie Cochrane, Ed Wood, Donna Young, Margie Lanier, Harvey Shain, Maria Arnold
    Year: 1974
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    The Movie:

    Better known in certain circles under the alternate title of Five Loose Women, this 1974 A.C. Stephen film (co-written by Ed Wood, who also acts in the film and is credited as assistant director under the alias of Dick Trent!) is actually a whole lot of fun and makes great use of an interesting cast. Like all of their collaborations, it was made fast and cheap, but Apostolof keeps the action moving at a good pace and is savvy enough to throw in enough sex and violence to keep trash film fans more than happy.

    The story follows, as you could probably have guessed by the title, a group of five women. Loose women at that. These girls are fugitives. There's some truth in advertising here at least. At any rate, these five ladies - Paula (Jabie Abercrombe), Toni (Rene Bond with a really goofy southern accent), Kat (Tallie Cochrane), Sheila (Donna Young) and Dee (Margie Lanier) - are doing time for various crimes. New recruit Dee has just been tossed in for her part in a liquor store robbery that her dirt bag boyfriend committed and let her take the rap for. But sooner has Dee been introduced to the crew and then graphically molested by lesbian Kat than the five manage to bust out of the rather unsecure looking prison and head out on the lam. See, Toni knows where there's a cool half a million dollars in cash stashed, and she aims to get herself a big piece of that. The other girls are along for the ride but their trip is going to be a tough one.

    Once they're out of the clink they run into a gang of horny hippies, vamp it up and sweet talk some dude into handing over his car (after Toni gets to bone him, of course – she really enjoys the company of men, we’re told), and narrowly escape being gang raped by trashy bikers. Eventually they wind up in the home of a Vietnam vet named Phil who is stuck in a wheelchair. He lives with his pretty wife (Nicole Riddell). Our five tough gals have come here in a search for the loot, and they aim to get it no matter who they have to rough up or rape!

    While this one is about as formulaic as a 'girl gang on the run' movie can get and deals in nothing but stereotypes from start to finish, it's hard not to appreciate the film's trashy charms. Rene Bond gets enough screen time here to lighten things up and the fact that she and the other ladies, each more or less attractive enough, are prone to taking off their tops every few minutes doesn't hurt much. The outdoor locations give the movie a good, desolate look and a dusty sort of feel that you can only seem to get in southern California and it all moves at a good pace. If Wood's story isn't reinventing the wheel, maybe it doesn't have to when you load the movie with as much sex, violence and goofy charm as this one has got. The cast make the most of it. Not only is Bond fun to watch but Tallie Cochrane is awesome as the tough as nails butch lesbian leader of the gang. She doesn’t take any shit from anyone, and if you’re not careful she’ll smack you with a chain or knee you in the nuts! Jabie Abercrombe as soul sister Paula is pretty cool here too, her back and forth with Bond’s Toni is heavy on the ‘white trash’ insult kick, but she delivers it well and you can tell these two are having a good time working together. Throw in not one… not two… but THREE supporting roles from Ed Wood (he plays a mechanic named Pop, provides the voice of a robbery witness and has plenty of screen time as the sheriff that chases the girls in the last fifteen minutes of the movie) and you can see how this one would be a real kick to watch.

    This isn't a sex film per se like some of the other collaborations but there's no shortage of skin to ogle. In fact, the version of the movie included on this disc is quite a bit stronger than what we’ve seen on disc in the past (the film was released as part of a DVD set called The Lascivious World of A.C. Stephen And Edward D. Wood Jr. and then again in in The Big Box Of Wood, both release from S’More Entertainment). Each one of the sex scenes is considerably longer and more graphic than those other versions. It’s worth noting that the trailer included on the disc notes that the film is rated R – evidence that the film was edited down from this longer, stronger, harder original cut.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Vinegar Syndrome offers up Fugitive Girls on Blu-ray ‘newly scanned and restored in 2k from the 35mm original camera negative’ framed at 1.85.1 widescreen and it looks excellent. Colors really pop here while the black levels look spot on. There’s virtually no print damage at all outside of some small white specks here and there, the image is quite clean while skin tones appear lifelike and natural. There are no noticeable issues with any compression artifacts nor is there any obvious edge enhancement or noise reduction. Grain appears naturally and we get exceptional detail, depth, texture and contrast. Another fantastic transfer from Vinegar Syndrome.

    Audio chores for the feature are handled well by the English language DTS-HD Mono track. Dialogue is clean, clear and easy to follow and the score has good resonance and clarity. There are no audible issues with any hiss or distortion and the levels are nicely balanced. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.

    Extras start off with a commentary track with filmmaker Frank Henenlotter and Ed Wood biographer Rudolph Grey. This is both well informed and quite amusing to listen to as the pair discusses their own personal interactions with Apostolof when they interviewed him before he passed away. Lots of good stories here about his working relationship with Wood, firing him for his drinking and then hiring him back, as well some as plenty of observations about what works in the movie, including some comments about the quality of certain camera setups and shots. They also provide plenty of background info on the different actresses that appear in the film, with an emphasis on Bond as they discuss her career inside and outside the adult film industry, her game show appearance in the eighties and whether or not Harry Novak really did pay for her breast implants!

    Also included on the disc is an archival audio interview with Tallie Cochrane moderated by Casey Scott. This plays out commentary style over the main feature and it’s quite interesting. Cochrane talks about how she got into the business, her thoughts on Ed Wood and A.C. Stephen, the locations that were used for the film, what it was like working with the different actors and actresses in the film, friendships that were formed during the shoot and quite a bit more.

    Outside of that the disc also includes the film’s original theatrical trailer, a thirty-second promo trailer, animated menus and chapter selection. As this is a combo pack release we also get a DVD version of the movie containing the same supplements that are found on the Blu-ray disc, and on top of all that we get some cool reversible cover art with the Fugitive Girls art on one side and the Five Loose Women art on the reverse.

    The Final Word:

    Fugitive Girls is one of the best of the Apostolof/Wood collaborations and Vinegar Syndrome has brought it to Blu-ray in fantastic shape, completely uncut and with some genuinely interesting extra features. The movie itself is a kick, a gleefully trashy and delightfully exploitative trash opus that moves at a quick pace and features a fine cast at the top of their game. Don’t miss this one (it’s limited to 2000 copies).
    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!






























    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Lalala76's Avatar
      Lalala76 -
      Just ordered this based on your review Ian.
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      I hope you dig it. Chime in once you see it.