The Fugitive Girls (1974) was the last film Ed Wood wrote before sadly passing away from chronic alcoholism. It’s a women-in-prison sexploitation movie, which was pretty much all he could do at that point. It’s more of an actual film than Orgy of the Dead, which really is just a strip-tease with The Amazing Criswell and others from his standard crew. It was also released under the alternative titles Five Loose Women, Hot on the Trail, and no doubt some more.
It’s as ridiculous as you would expect. The main character is called Dee, and she is thrown into a violent all-women work camp after her boyfriend robs a liquor store. Straight off the bat she is raped by the ‘head lesbian’ in an unnecessarily gratuitous scene, which is of course what these films were all about. The prisoners force her to join them in an escape plan, and then they go on a crazed rampage through the countryside in search of a suitcase of money. They get involved with some hippies in a commune and steal their hippie clothes. There’s a particularly great scene where they insult the hippies’ health-food breakfast.
You’ll see Wood himself in two rare non-drag onscreen roles. The dialogue is laugh-out-loud funny, and it’s a wild ride. During this period was mainly making short films for the porno circuit, with the best-known one being Necromania. He’d made some bad contract decisions, and along with his drink problem these effectively ended his career.
The director was A.C. Stephen, Bulgarian who became friends with Wood, and it’s more competently directed than most of Wood’s films. Stephen also directed Orgy of the Dead and Drop-Out Wife. It has Blaxploitation elements, and everyone is running around not wearing very much. Which is what you would expect with the grindhouse or porno theatre circuit where these films were destined to play, and the budget available.
I have no idea how they located the negative for this one, but it was a great find. I’m still hoping that Vinegar Syndrome will release Wood’s final film as a director, Take It Out In Trade, which is supposed to be a visually trippy film and has recently been re-discovered.
The Fugitive Girls is an interesting last effort from Wood, now with a 2K restoration made from the original camera negative. The extras include a commentary from Frank Henenlotter, the director of the three Basket Case films and Frankenhooker, with Rudolf Grey, author of the Ed Wood book Nightmare of Ecstasy and a former member of the band Mars. Also on the disc is an audio interview with sexploitation actress Tallie Cochrane (who plays fellow prisoner Kat) and the absolutely amazing trailer.