TRIP WITH THE TEACHER 1974 (released 1975)
Zalman King (Al), Brenda Fogarty (Miss Tenny), Robert Gribbin (Jay), Robert Porter (Pete), Susan Russell (Pam), Cathy Worthingtom (Julie), Dina Ousley (Bobbie), Jill Voight (Tina), Jack Driscoll (Marvin)
Directed by Earl Barton
The Short Version: One of a handful of LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT cash-ins, this minor league entry in the exploitation sweepstakes is an entertaining time killer and little else. Gore is minimal, but the film has staying power due to a celluloid chewing performance by Zalman King. Less tolerant viewers will likely end up cutting class, but oldschool drive in fans may enjoy this field trip.
A teacher and a few of her students head out for the California desert on a research trip. Their bus breaks down and are helped by three Easy Ridin' bikers led by the psychotic Al. The three men--two of which are brothers and the third a tag-along--promise to tow the girls back into town, but take them to a secluded shack instead. Once there, the girls are tormented and raped till they fight back against their attackers. One of the men is sympathetic to the girls and attempts to help them escape the desert alive.
This micro budgeted clone of LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972) is efficient, if not completely indelible to the viewer. Despite nudity, rape and rampant abuse, the film maintains an inescapable 'Made For TV' quality about it. Even the score (some, if not all cues are stock tracks) screams weekly programmer. That's not a negative, it just never rises above average. Still, there are more than a few notable scenes that will hold viewer interest, that is if you go for this sort of thing.
Another case of a 70s movie poster not being totally honest about what's in the film. This one isn't too far off the mark, though.
If not for the over the top, manic performance of Zalman King (wearing a pair of sunglasses that make him look like a visitor from another world), TRIP WITH THE TEACHER wouldn't be nearly as interesting. King looks a lot like David Hess here, but plays the character of Al a bit differently, but no less demented. Al, with his sudden fits of rage and unpredictable outbursts, appears to have escaped a mental institution somewhere whereas Hess's Krug was merely a sadistic bastard that just hated people. Zalman King is key to what little power this picture possesses. Fans will remember King from his later role as Baylon in the cult favorite GALAXY OF TERROR (1981); a film where he plays a character not too far removed from the one he essays here. King would later find favor on cable television with his trendsetting erotic series RED SHOE DIARIES.
With King effortlessly towing the load, it takes about 40 minutes for the film to hit its stride, but from that point onward, it's non stop action and degradation. There's also a pretty intense motorcycle chase over rough desert terrain that adds some extra bang for the low budget buck. The gore is minimal and the body count is fairly low. There's an impalement, one character is garroted, another is crushed under a car, another has his neck broken after being run over by Al on his motorcycle and one of the girls is suffocated in the dirt. During the concluding moments there's a last minute plot twist that simultaneously strains believability and diminishes the impact of what could have been a stronger finish.
While it never gets as overly offensive as LAST HOUSE, or even other similar movies like THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977) and MOTHER'S DAY (1980), it has just enough trashy elements to satiate exploitation enthusiasts. While it's nothing of particular significance, this relative obscurity is a moderately engaging example of 70s garbage filmmaking. With that said, TRIP WITH THE TEACHER manages to get by with a passing grade.
This review is representative of the BCI DVD