Friday, February 6, 2015

Trip With The Teacher - 1975

I continued with the Gorehouse Greats today with the 1975 film Trip With The Teacher.  This is a suspense biker movie starring Zalman King of Red Shoe Diaries as Al.  It's an odd genre cross, sure, but does it work?  I would say yes, it actually does.

In the beginning, we see Al and his friend Pete, they're a couple bikers that are stopped from their ride by a flat tire.  Nice guy and fellow biker Jay stops by, patches up the tire, and the three of them ride out together.  They soon encounter a school bus, also broken down.  This was a school bus carrying 4 female students and a teacher, Miss Jenny.  The three bikers stop, seemingly to help.  Things go bad when Al gets to flirting with the girls  (the Slutty one).  When Miss Jenny tries to stop him he seems to take a very dangerous turn.

But things cool down, and the three bikers soon decide to give the broken bus a lift.  What they all don't know is that the place Al takes them to is an abandoned house in the middle of nowhere.  And now, Al demands the teacher to become physical with him or he'll ditch them there.  Then things get even worse.  The bus driver gets involved and Al hits him with his motorcycle, breaking his neck.  Now Al and Pete know that if they let them go, they could be up against the law.  The third biker, the one that helped them out earlier, that was tagging along with them, is soon also gone, and then it's just the girl versus two sadistic, horny bikers.

This movie was actually pretty decent.  For what it is, it keeps you interested and in a way, in my experience at least, it keeps you guessing.  I really did not know how it would end.  Logic would dictate that we would have to see the bad guys, Al and Pete, get what was coming to them.  But Al was the real ringleader and Pete just the tag-along so maybe we would see them turn on another.

Another thing they did well was make the girls pretty smart. For their minor, cookie cutter characters, I think they behaved extraordinarily human-like.  There is basically only three main girls - Miss Jenny the teacher, and then there's the Slut and the Innocent (both of whose names I don't know).  The Slut (hey, it's what she plays) tries to distract Al and Pete with her body.  Miss Jenny has been targeted by Al, he wants her, and when she notices this she uses it to her advantage.

The Innocent is the virgin, of course, the girl who we want to escape unharmed and pure.  It's odd.  I'll just throw in some non-spoiler spoiler here:  the only girl that dies is the Innocent.  How's that for unusual?  That was one of the things I thought was just clever about this movie.  We've seen time and time again the Sluts get punished, the throw away characters die.  Hell, the other two girls in the movie were basically just wallpaper, they really didn't have roles at all.  But they decided in the script to kill the innocent girl?  Huh.

Zalman King turns in an on and off performance as Al.  Sometimes he's a bit too over the top maniacal and weird, but usually he's very believable.  He certainly looks the part.  The best part about him is his cold dead stare, with his black hair flowing around, you are truly under his spell when he looks at you.  Despite being only armed with a knife, you believe this guy could do just about anything he wanted to.

The other actors are good as well.  All turn in good performances, roles that aren't just one dimensional.  Each character (except for the two wallpaper girls) is interesting, as motivations for what they're doing, and a reason for what they do.  It's not just a movie where "things happen".  Another thing I thought was clever was the teacher.  It just makes it worth it to see how much she cares about the girls, she fights to protect them, makes sacrifices for them, even when they're stupid and maybe don't deserve it.  It's a strong character.

Sometimes characters in this react in a way that is maybe not realistic, sometimes they may say things that are a bit fake or forced sounding.  I think that would be the only clunky parts.  It's definitely a movie where you know that the only reason some things happen is so that the plot can get to where it's going.  Take that as the "suspension of disbelief" that all movies have.  Some movies ask us as the audience to believe in other worlds or other times, this one just asks that we believe these things went the way they did naturally.  It's not a huge flaw, in other words.

All in all, I liked it.  It was not the greatest movie ever, but I thought it was smart.  I would probably give it a pretty high rating but something tells me to only give it 2 stars.  I dunno.  Maybe it's just that I know other people would not like it as much as I did.  It doesn't have the cheese factor to it, nor is it a movie you could really watch with friends or drink to.  It starts off carefree and fun, and silly even but then the road just gets dangerous and cavernous as time goes on.

I think the main thing about it is that its kind of dark.  There is rape in the movie, multiple scenes of it, and it's kind of disturbing.  It leaves you with a bitter view of things, the world.  Its depressing, really.  So people might not think of it as the kind of B movie they want to see.  They want blood and bad acting and monsters and tits and ridiculous.  This movie would actually be the kind to frighten a child because it doesn't have a Frankenstein or Dracula character, it has real humans doing really horrible things to other humans,  But that is why I liked it.  Its not some fucking 70's flair movie.  It's about real crimes, with real and believable characters doing them.  So I'm bumping it up to 3 stars.  I was tempted to give it 4 based on those things I just wrote.
Final rating 3.5 stars out of 5.  Fuck you.

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