When Vinegar Syndrome announced the Blu-ray release of Trip with the Teacher I was intrigued because it’s a title I was unfamiliar with at the time. And if you just judge from the title it’s not immediately clear what type of movie this is. Fans of the VS library will know that their releases typically fall under the horror/genre category or erotica — which can all be lumped together under exploitation or as I like to refer to them, awesome. When I popped the Blu-ray in, eager to solve this low-level mystery, I did with the assumption that this would likely be the latter and not the former. I was wrong.
A class of students…ok four female students and their teacher take a field trip out to the desert. It’s not entirely clear as to what type of class this is and what exactly they hope to accomplish on this trip. One thing we do know is that they’re very excited to see real-life “Indians” out in the wild!
The trip is zooming along and the girls are having a real swell time when the bus breaks down. Of course, this happens when they’re in the absolute middle of nowhere without any help in sight. The bus driver is unable to fix it so the only they can do is wait alongside the road and flag down the next passing vehicle. It’s not long before their prayers are answered in the form of a trio of bikers — brothers Al (Zalman King) & Pete (Robert Porter) and Jay (Robert Gribbin), a fellow biker the brothers just recently met.
Pete takes a stab at fixing the bus and has little luck. He discovers what he believes the problem to be but he’s unable to fix it. Meanwhile, Al is getting acquainted with one of the girls. While Pete and Jay seem ok there’s something different about Al. You can sense that Al is a bit of a loose cannon. At first, Al seems to be just flirting with one of the girls and things seem fairly innocent but before you know it Trip with the Teacher becomes Last House on Left with motorcycles.
While Trip with the Teacher never goes quite as far as Last House on the Left, it does do a really great job of building the tension. After Al’s advances become a bit too strong for the women the bus driver is killed in what could be considered an accident. At that point though it doesn’t matter. Al has made up his mind about these ladies — he’s going to use them for what he wants and then dispose of them. Pete and Jay rather not get mixed up in this sort of mess. At one point Pete even comments that if Al wasn’t his brother he would leave him, while Jay actively tries to work with the girls to help set them free. This added conflict between the bikers helps to create the suspense.
The best part of Trip with the Teacher is the performance from King, who gives his best David Hess impression — hey there’s another similarity between this and Last House on the Left! King, more known for his erotica directing films like Red Shoe Diaries and Wild Orchid, gave a handful of memorable turns in front of the camera throughout his career and this is amongst his best, right up there with Some Call it Loving. King is completely off-kilter and unstable. He doesn’t even have any motivation — he’s just crazy and just crazy is well, crazy.
The Blu-ray of Trip with the Teacher meets the incredibly high standards Vinegar Syndrome has set over the years. The picture quality is gorgeous, offering an image that is incredibly detailed and rich. I’m confident that this is a film that has never looked better.
In terms of special features, this release offers some good ones. You’ve got the standard trailer and still gallery, plus a TV spot which I always appreciate. If you’re an audio commentary fan you get that here with director Earl Barton and actresses Cathy Worthington and Dina Ousley. The highlight here is an interview with Brenda Fogarty, the titular teacher. Fogarty is an absolute joy to listen to. Her acting career never really launched but she’s proud of Trip with the Teacher which is nice. So often the stars of these 70’s era exploitation films regret the movies, so it’s a wonderful change of pace for once.
Trip with the Teacher is a wonderful slice of 70’a exploitation. It’s a sleazy biker film with horror elements and it stars Zalman King. If that doesn’t kickstart your motor I don’t know what to tell you.
Trip with the Teach is currently available on Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome.