• Trip With The Teacher



    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: September 26th, 2017.
    Director: Earl Barton
    Cast: Zalman King, Brenda Fogarty, Robert Gribbin, Dina Ousley, Cathy Worthington, Jill Voight, Susan Russell, Robert Porter
    Year: 1974
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    Written and directed by Earl Barton (who starred in Seven Brides For Seven Brothers!), this 1975 trash opus plays pretty well even by modern standards. When the film begins, a biker named Jay (Robert Gribbin) stops at a gas station where two other bikers, Al (Robert Porter) and Pete (Zalman King), are taking care of their hogs. They decide to travel together after a run in with a pretty young school teacher named Miss Tenny (Brenda Fogerty) and her bus of equally pretty students. These young ladies are on their way, along with bus driver Marvin (Jack Driscoll), to explore some distant Navajo ruins out in the California desert.

    Of course, soon enough the bus breaks down in the middle of nowhere. It’s then that the bikers show up and start flirting with the schoolgirls. At first they seem harmless enough, helpful even when they agree to tow the broken bus to a nearby shack, but soon their true colors start to show. Al and Pete start getting rough with the girls, raping the teacher and acting like scumbags, leaving the well-meaning Jay to try and sort all of this out. It’s up to him to try and save the girls from the evil sexual predators he has unwittingly helped unleash upon them…

    Featuring a similar tone to films like Hitch-Hike though never really approaching that level of depravity, Trip With The Teacher is pretty entertaining stuff thanks in no small part to a seriously screwy performance from Zalman King, a named probably best remembered for his in Blue Sunshine and his directing on The Red Shoe Diaries. Wearing fly-guy sunglasses the entire time and leering at the female cast with salaciously convincing menace, he makes the movie a lot more enjoyable than it would have been otherwise. The rest of the cast are solid, but it’s King that you remember once the film is over. Robert Porter is also pretty effective here, just as sleazy as King’s character but not quite as visually memorable (those fly-guy sunglasses go a long way!) while Robert Gribbin plays the good guy biker well enough on his own. As far as the female cast members go, Brenda Fogerty – who had a decent if relatively short career in exploitation pictures such as Michael Pataki’s take on Cinderella, Fantasm Comes Again, The Charles Band produced Fairy Tales and A.C. Stephen’s The Beach Bunnies – works really well as the female lead. Toss in supporting work from Cathy Worthington, Jill Voight and Susan Russell and, well, the cast shapes up just fine.

    On top of the cast’s great work, you get a fair bit of ample nudity and plenty of trashy dialogue. It's a pretty low budget affair and was obviously made on the cheap but it moves at a good pace and is considerably more tense towards the end than you'd probably expect it to be given its fairly slow opening third. The desert location help here too, giving the last half of the film a bit more desperation and urgency than you’d probably expect.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The AVC encoded 1080p high definition 1.85.1 widescreen transfer is “newly scanned and restored in 2k from the 16mm original camera negative” and it’s a pretty serious improvement over pretty much every DVD version of the movie that’s been released (and there are a lot of them) in terms of detail and clarity. Color reproduction is also quite good as are black levels. As this was shot on 16mm it’s still a grainy, gritty looking picture – but would you want it any other way? Minor print damage is present throughout, but it’s small specks and what not, no large scratches or serious abrasions. There are no noticeable issues with compression artifacts or edge enhancement nor is there any noticeable noise reduction. Skin tones look good, there’s reasonable depth here too.

    The only audio option provided is an English language DTS-HD Mono track, with optional subtitles provided in English only. Aside from some mild hiss here and there the track is pretty solid. The audio is properly balanced and the dialogue is easy enough to understand. The score has reasonable depth to it and for an older, low budget film this single channel track is fine.

    Extras for this release start off with a commentary track featuring director Earl Barton and actresses Cathy Worthington and Dina Ousley moderated by Joe Rubin. Earl starts off by talking about what inspired him to make the picture in the first place, how he borrowed money from his father to make the film and how he did most of the work behind the camera himself such as writing, shooting the film, editing the picture, helping with the music, casting the film and more (though he used a lot of fake names in the credits). He talks about getting involved with Crown International, the involvement of Joe Bardo on the film behind the scenes, where the music in the movie came from and quite a bit more. The actresses talk about their characters, what it was like on the shoot, who has stayed in touch with who over the years, their thoughts on working with King on the picture, what they’ve done since the movie was made, the length of the shoot, working on location in the desert, who got paid what (there's an amusing argument during this part!) and more.

    Also included on the disc is a new featurette entitled Taking The Trip which is a new video interview with actress Brenda Fogarty that runs fourteen and a half minutes in length. She talks about growing up in Tucson, doing plays in high school and college, and how she wound up working as a showgirl in Las Vegas by the time she was twenty-four. After this she travelled around performing and after returning to the United States, tried out for an acting role which lead to a career in front of the camera before retiring from the silver screen and working as a realtor (though she did continue to write monologues). From there she talks about working on this film specifically, talking about what it was like working with Earl Barton who she describes as kind. She also talks about how impressive King was as an actor, how everyone worked hard on the picture and how everyone in the cast and crew was like family.

    Rounding out the extras are the film’s original theatrical trailer, a handful of TV spots, a fairly extensive still gallery, menus and chapter selection. Vinegar Syndrome has also supplied some reversible cover art for this release.

    The Final Word:

    Trip With The Teacher is seriously solid drive-in fare, a gritty, sleazy picture that exploits its desert locations as well as it does its fine cast and trashy setup. Vinegar Syndrome’s limited edition Blu-ray release looks and sounds great and it’s got some solid supplements too. Highly recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!