Combining equal parts soap opera, daring drug expose' and high school VD flick, director Gary Graver's The Hard Road (1970) is a disturbing, unflinching tour de force in sleaze that will leave the viewer dumbstruck as well as feeling dirty and in need of a long bath.At seventeen Pam (Connie Nelson) finds herself alone and in trouble. Much to the chagrin of her parents (Ray Merritt and Liz Renay) she's in a family way and the daddy is nowhere to be found. But that's okay, because after they send her away to have the baby in secret and then put the kid up for adoption everything can get back to normal, or so they hope. But after Pam's loss of innocence, things just aren't the same anymore and there's no going home again. Pam needs to start over new, a change of pace to get her out of the doldrums, so dad calls in a favor and gets her a job with a slimy rock promoter friend of his named Leo (Gary Kent). Sure, Leo is a middle-aged scumbag pervert who likes to ogle his new receptionist through a two-way mirror, but that's only one of many fringe benefits that Pam gets with her new job. Another one is that she gets to meet and party with not quite famous, good-for-nothing degenerate rock stars that introduce her to many new and interesting concepts, concepts like recreational drug use and cheap one night stands. While Pam loved the marijuana and the wild trip it sent her on she didn't really like being used like a doormat. But after a new friend that Pam met at a party, Jeannie (Catherine Howard), makes her aware of even better drugs than "Mary Jane" and a little something that every girl should know about called "The Pill" ALL BETS ARE OFF! From then on Pam's life becomes an ever-increasing blur of cheap sex and bottled thrills.At this point Pam is still living at home and everything is going fine until her snoopy mother finds out that she's got a venereal disease, and then out the door she goes! Pam lands at best friend Jeannie's apartment, which she shares with her smackhead boyfriend Jimmy (John Alderman). Sure Jimmy is a full-fledged, $40 dollar a day heroin-shooting addict, but he is awfully cute. So cute in fact that Jeannie doesn't even mind pimping herself to support his addiction, now that's love. Unfortunately Jeannie quickly discovers that love stinks when she comes home one night and finds her junkie boyfriend snuggling up with new roomie Pam. That's it for her, Jeannie is out of there faster than you can say "pill popping prostitute ex-girlfriend" and Pam gets herself a new beau.Regrettably all is not sunshine and rainbows for Pam and her new boyfriend, he does have his shortcomings too. Like the time that Pam made the mistake of using the rent money to pay the rent, boy did he go off on her. But after he smacked her around some and put her out on the street to make him some dope money everything was great with them again. Well not really, you see while Pam truly likes cheap sex with strangers she's just not cut out to be a pro. So Jimmy, now getting kind of antsy because he hasn't had a fix in a while has to take his favorite TV set and sell it for dope. But Jimmy isn't really that smart and he's starting to go through withdraw so it's not long before he's got himself caught and sitting in county lock-up, Jimmy is going to get to spend the night in jail. By now he's in full-blown withdraw and it's going to be an interesting night for him, and we get to watch every bit of it. Meanwhile back at their apartment, lonely, bored and not known for making the best life choices, Pam suddenly comes up with a brilliant plan to break up the monotony of the day. Why not drop a big hit of acid and make like an airplane, wheeeeeeeeeeee!Wow! This could be one of the best worst movies ever, if not the best certainly a top contender. This is a movie that has a little something for everyone, teen pregnancy, drug use and addiction, blood-soaked drug crazed hippies, alienated youth as well as their unsympathetic parents, and a story so big it had to have two narrators! Yes, the ideas in this picture were so grand that it required two narrators to keep the story straight for the audience! One narrator to cover the more mundane details of Pam's pregnancy and a second narrator (who looks like some pervert that should be sitting in the dark at a peepshow somewhere) who gets to tell the audience all about the illicit drugs and their wonderful uses as well as all about the joys of venereal disease. And what a great idea having two narrators (although one coherent narrator might have been an idea they could have tried), because every time this story gets rolling one (or both) of these guys can come in and bring it to a screeching halt just to show us some informative (and stomach turning) high school scare film footage! Take all of these wondrous things and bundle them up in a high-minded, heavy-handed package and you could only get The High Road, and no it is not a pretty picture!This film is available from Something Weird Video or Movies Unlimited as a download or on DVD. The DVD is offered with another film, Damaged Goods, and includes many special features (short films, movie trailers, etc) all with a similar theme and make for a very interesting compilation.
Originally posted 7/7/2007