What a relentless pile of exploitative schlock. They don’t make them like this, anymore. The combination of online mob outrage, and the actual progressive growth of our morals, makes a flick like this a difficult proposition in the 21st century. Even watching this film, and a whole plethora of its contemporaries, can make a viewer feel a little squirrely, as if they were doing something wrong. This is one of those flicks that can make a person feel ashamed of being entertained. But, in for a penny, in for a pound. Truck Stop Women is wonderfully shitty.
From way back in 1974, Truck Stop Women tells the story of a truck stop/whorehouse in New Mexico, and its madam’s efforts to stave off mob competition. It’s a flick that wallows in its shittiness, from the low-rent country music soundtrack (all songs performed by Bobby Hart — my personal favorite track was Bullshippers), to its southern AND Italian stereotypes, to its bottom-of-the-barrel cast, and endless gratuitous nudity.
As gratuitous nudity goes, the nudity in this flick might be among the most gratuitous I’ve ever seen. Sure, much of the flick takes place in a whorehouse, and one would expect to see a few breasts here and there. But there’s a segment in this film that is basically a Bobby Hart music video montage, and some boob flashes made the cut. It’s the very definition of gratuitous, which dictionary.com has as “being without apparent reason, cause, or justification.” The breasts are everywhere, in all shapes and sizes. And they were glorious to behold. I write of the breasts not from some sanctimonious high ground, but because they are an essential and inescapable aspect of this shitty movie. There are so many bared breasts in this movie that a network TV cut would clock in at less than an hour.
There is a plot to go along with all the titillation.
Anna (Lieux Dressler), owns the truck stop, and has a side business hijacking trucks. She scouts out what truckers are carrying while they’re sampling the wares, then sends out a couple of her gals, including her daughter, Rose (Claudia Jennings), posing as damsels in distress on the side of the highway. The illusion is helped by very short shorts and other revealing clothing. When the target truck stops to help (as it always does), they conk the driver on the head and steal his rig.
Anna has a deal with a mob boss to sell the trucks and their cargo, but Smith (Johnny Martino), an up and coming mobster, has his own plans, and moves in on Anna’s territory. Smith is quite the character. He’s a stereotypical Italian film mobster, down to the hair, the suit, and the New York accent. And his last name is Smith. Okay.
Anna isn’t having any of Smith’s nonsense, and goes to war with him. She’s helped by her male employees, Curly, Mac, and Winter (Dennis Fimple, Gene Drew, and Len Lessler), but not the whores. The whores have to keep earning. As if things weren’t dire enough for Anna, Rose has gone over to the other side. The horror!
All of this leads to a little confrontation, a little violence, and in-between — more breasts.
Truck Stop Women is a good shitty movie because of its shamelessness. The acting and story were bad, but director Mark L. Lester, who also produced and contributed to the screenplay, has a fine sense of pace, as is shown by his subsequent long career in Hollywood. The man directed both Commando and Class of 1999. That’s a pretty good shitty CV. Truck Stop Women is an early showcase of what Lester would be capable of with an actual budget. It lands in the Index at #88, coming in between Maniac Cop 2 and The Incredible Melting Man. Not quite shitty gold, but worth checking out for fans of bad exploitation cinema.