The Teacher

June 20, 2010 at 4:08 pm (5 Heads, Teacher, The) (, , , , )

The Teacher – 1974 – United States

With an exploitation flick called The Teacher, you already know the plot. If not, it’s all detailed in the lyrics of the (insanely catchy) theme song—“Every boy needs a teacher to show him the way. To take him in hand and help him grow up a little each day.” and “Any student can read of the relative speed of the planets that spin up above. Brilliant in school, he can still be a fool when it comes to the language of love.” Basically, a not very subtle teacher seduces a high school student (former Dennis the Menace, Jay North) the summer after graduation. Then there’s a subplot involving the accidental death of the student’s best friend, and a great insane stalker.

The Teacher amounts to a lot of amusing/sexy seduction scenes and some PG13 lovemaking. Sprinkled in are action scenes, suspenseful moments (the stalker leering through windows, waving a knife around), intentional and unintentional humor, and endless jazzy, funky music (with xylophones and pounding congas), especially the theme song that shows up a half dozen times.

Lacking logic and consistency, with a stupid and arbitrary ending, The Teacher still manages to be predictable. But if you like this sort of thing, it’s not boring. There are some nice touches too: The stalker is excellently creepy with his unibrow and sunken, pockmarked cheeks. He cruises in a hearse, storing his gun, knife, and peeping binoculars in a red velvet casket. I also dig the teacher’s smoking hot Corvette (she’s not so bad either), and the student’s cute clueless mom is hilarious.

Occasionally, ignoring obvious sleazy elements, an exploitation movie can be poignant and meaningful (relatively speaking). This is not The Teacher’s case. It aims for the lowest common denominator and is bullseye accurate. It’s telling that there is no dialogue until 15 minutes in, after the first pair of breasts.

Rating: 5/10 Shrunken Heads. The Teacher is not quite explicit enough for the raincoat crowd but lacks direction and purpose to be anything but. Lots of folks (like me) enjoy trash for the sake of it—so have at it.

12/17/2017 Update:

It’s been seven years since I last watched The Teacher, but I’ve never forgotten its theme song. I did, however, forget all about its creepy dialogue. The teacher invites her shy student into her house. When he seems hesitant, she says, “I’m not going to rape you, at least not this early in the morning.” Later, a mom describes her teenage son to another woman: “Sean has really grown up this year. He’s quite handsome. What can I say? I find him attractive, even if he is my own son.”

The crazy stalker character also has some outrageous dialogue. After a woman shuns him, he has a meltdown in an alley behind a restaurant. Standing beside a dumpster, he sobs and bellows, “You bitch! I hate you!” He carries around a bayonet to threaten people with. I think he is supposed to be a traumatized Vietnam vet.

The Teacher is set in a painfully pleasant middle class suburb. Sean, the teenage protagonist, spends the summer before college customizing his van. Sean’s mom is always cooking and hosting luncheons. Sean’s dad works all the time and loves beer. Everyone has a pool. People drive drunk without consequence. This quaint depiction of middle class life is decimated in the film’s downbeat ending. Sean is murdered and his teacher gets raped by her stalker.

Rating: 5/10 Shrunken Heads. Here’s my message to all teenagers: Please don’t have sex with your teacher. It’s a bad idea.


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