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THE SINGLE GIRLS [a.k.a. Private School] (1973; Just For the Hell Of It).

Though originally promoted like low-grade sexploitation slop, this Dimension Pictures release from directors Ferd and Beverly Sebastian (best known for drive-in dreck such as THE HITCHHIKERS and GATOR BAIT) also mixes in a slasher subplot, trendy sex-therapy, and an overdose of butt-ugly '70s-fashions. The fact that this El Cheapo production also co-stars 1970 Playboy Playmate of the Year Claudia Jennings, one of the undisputed queens of the drive-in, only adds to the film's misguided allure. Its hokey excuse for a plot begins when several lovely young lasses (and a few hard-up men) visit a remote Caribbean island that's also "an exercise in liberated living." Virgin college chick Lola (Joan Prather, from SMILE and THE DEVIL'S RAIN) wants to finally get her cherry popped and sets her sights on a country clod; nurse Allison (Jennings) is fearful of commitment, thanks to her possessive ape of a boyfriend, who shows up and tries to rain on her fun; Greg Mullavey is nerdy George, who digs Allison and could be more dangerous than he looks; ever-horny Shannon (Cheri Howell) swoops in on any male who even looks at another woman; BLAZING SADDLES' buxom Miss Stein, Robyn Hilton, plays (big surprise) a blonde ditz; while Dr. Stevens (Wayne Dvorek) runs this psycho-babble shindig. At first, the guests sit in a circle on the ground, rapping about their sexual hang-ups and indulging in "encounter group" orgies, but these Harrad-wannabe experiments are interrupted by violence, as the supporting characters are brutally bumped off by a murderous, knife-wielding psychopath. The ensuing mystery has all the depth of a Nancy Drew novel -- except that everyone gets laid, of course -- and the cast overflows with potential suspects, since they're all screwed-up in one way or another. The unfocused script bounces randomly between various copulating couples and revels in slasher cliches, but keeps the on-screen sex disappointingly tame (Prather is briefly topless as her fantasy is almost fulfilled, and though Jennings plays the biggest sexpot on this rock, her nude scenes are slight). Still, the Sebastians deserve credit for cramming all of this horseshit into only 77 minutes. It even comes with a groovy opening tune, "Ms. America", by ex-Monkees songwriter Bobby Hart (of Boyce and Hart) and Danny Janssen (music producer for the cartoon JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS and co-writer of THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY theme).

© 2005 by Steven Puchalski.