Trip with the Teacher

August 8, 2010 at 11:25 pm (7 Heads, Trip with the Teacher) (, , , )

Trip with the Teacher – 1975 – United States

Despite a bikers-rape-coeds plot, Trip with the Teacher transcends sleaziness with touches of gritty intensity. Similar to The Sadist (1963) in tone and content (although not such a masterpiece), Trip with Teacher bends clichés and injects emotion into its exploitative premise—a suspenseful, gripping flick regardless of lowest-common-denominator mindset.

A school bus rolls through picturesque desert scrubland. Superbly funky laid-back music is heard. A feisty tough young teacher and four girl students enjoy a field trip until (surprise) the bus breaks down and hoodlum bikers harass them, escalating to murder and rape until the ladies and a handsome friendly biker retaliate. It’s a forgettable setup enhanced with nice touches: One biker brother loafs around strung out, giggles, mutters, and snarls, while the other makes peace, a placating median between victim and victimizer. Both brothers alternate between murderous violence and piteous remorse. The teacher and students are high-spirited, suffering torture with minimal hysterics while scheming and fighting back. There’s psychology in the characters’ relationships, adding complexity and interest even while creating absurd dialogue and situations (for mercy, a girl flirts with her captors). Still, it’s a step above typical killer biker fare.

Refreshingly, Trip with the Teacher is well made too. The cast is unusually competent, especially considering the “teenage” actors. The remote desert locations (highway, filling station, old barn) are scenic. The pacing is suspenseful. And the music is exceptional (ignoring a tune reminiscent of Mission Impossible). Plus there are great details. One highlight is an off-road motorcycle chase. Typically, stunt drivers leisurely cruise and the film is sped up. Not here. These guys haul ass over rugged terrain, bouncing and skidding about. There’s also an unexpected and brutal noose murder.

Despite these praises, Trip with the Teacher is still exploitative trash. But stomach the ridiculous elements (cat fights, romance, fetishized school girls) and inane dialogue and there’s a good flick underneath, trying hard with no shortage of grit, action, and suspense.

Rating: 7/10 Shrunken Heads. Enjoyable exploitation made with care and effort.

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