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  Trip with the Teacher Travel Into Terror
Year: 1975
Director: Earl Barton
Stars: Brenda Fogarty, Zalman King, Robert Porter, Robert Gribbin, Dina Ousley, Susan Russell, Jill Voigt, Cathy Worthington, Jack Driscoll, Edward Cross, David Villa
Genre: Thriller, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Miss Tenny (Brenda Fogarty) is taking four of her students on a Californian countryside camping trip in the school bus, reading out educational facts about the area as they travel. Meanwhile, further back down the road, two biker brothers - Al (Zalman King) and Pete (Robert Porter) are wondering what to do about the puncture on Pete's rear tyre when a Good Samaritan in the person of Jay (Robert Gribbin) appears and helps repair it. They set off together, catching up with the school bus and responding to the girls' cheery waving, but they don't know that their lives will collide with terrible consequences...

When discussing Trip with the Teacher, the spectre of Last House on the Left will often loom up, and it's true they have a similar "terrorise the innocents" plotline though without the Ingmar Bergman pretensions. Directed, produced and written by Earl Barton, a choreographer here making his one and only movie, it's the kind of film that usually springs to mind when the word "Grindhouse" is mentioned, which it was quite a lot during 2007 when Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez fashioned their double bill of the same name.

However, this was the real thing, with a cheap and cheesy, not to say sleazy, quality straining for shocking effect that will make you wonder what precisely Mr Barton was getting out of this. The alarm bells start ringing when the bikers meet up with the students at a gas station, and Al is clearly a bad apple with his snickering and lousy temperament. Jay, on the other hand, is a thoroughly decent chap and although two of the girls give him a hard time winding him up about his bike, he takes it all with good humour. Not so Al and the surly station attendant, who piss each other off so much that Al drops a car on his aggressor.

If you needed any proof that there was a psycho killer in the midst of this journey, then there it was. It looks as if the Miss Tenny and her charges will escape unscathed from the clutches of Al, but then wouldn't you know it but the bus breaks down and the bikers catch up with them. Jay asks Pete to have a look at the engine, and after some reluctance he agrees while Al menacingly heads for the girls, but it transpires that they need a new fuel pump, so why don't the bikers go on ahead and telephone for help? Jay doesn't have a problem with that, but Al surely does.

If there's anything holding all this together then it's the performance of future softcore porn producer King, in one of those roles where you can't tell if he's absolutely awful or simply perfect for the movie. He's so commited to making Al as loathsome as possible that he becomes quite riveting, so by the time he has run over the bus driver's head with his motorbike we've been convinced that things can only get worse for quite some time. The violence that follows is not especially explicit, but King sells the danger well; not so good is the fact that he and Pete would be easily outnumbered by the group they are putting through this ordeal and it grows increasingly ridiculous to see the opportunities for escape attempts slip through the hostages' fingers. For an authentically grimy seventies exploitation experience there are better films around, but Trip with the Teacher has a minor cult nonetheless and does offer valuable sympathy for the victims. Music by Igo Kantor.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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