Monday, July 1, 2013

Summer School Teachers (1974)

Summer School Teachers (1974)
Directed by Barbara Peeters
Starring Candice Rialson, Pat Anderson, Rhonda Leigh Hopkins
Rated R

'The Student Body Always Scores With The Summer School Teachers!"

Barbara Peeters was one of the very few female exploitation directors of the 70’s. Naturally, she worked for Roger Corman. Her biggest triumph was obviously Humanoids from the Deep, but she made a couple other kooky/cool grinders too: femme-fronted biker flick Bury Me an Angel, starring glamazonian she-warrior Dixie Peabody, and Starhops, a pleasantly insane movie about a diner. She also made this, a pseudo-feminist T&A flick that shares a lot of the themes and plotlines of Corman’s nurse flicks. Unfortunately, it also shares their draggy pace and dreary dialogue, too. But there is one very big bonus: it stars long-lost B-beauty Candice Rialson (RIP), the big-eyed scene stealer from Hollywood Boulevard, Pets, and Chatterbox. Candice’s filmography is painfully slim, so you gotta take your Candy where you can get it. Anyway, here’s what happens.

Holy fuck, I hate fiddles. Let’s ignore the goddamn fiddles on the soundtrack and just enjoy watching gorgeous Tina (Rialson) tear ass down the road in a beat-up pick-up with her hairy hillbilly brothers.

They race to the greyhound station and she hops on a bus for California with her two sexy buds Sally (Pat Anderson, Angel of H.E.A.T., Bonnie’s Kids) and Denise (Rhonda Leigh Hopkins, Cover Girl Models). They’re in Iowa, by the way. It definitely doesn’t look like Iowa. It looks like 20 miles down the road from LA, which is where I'm pretty sure it is.

They all get jobs guessed it, summer school teachers at an LA high school. Dick Miller is Sam, the sexist football coach, as you might expect. Tina is the summer gym teacher for the girls, and it’s her job to whip this bunch of wise ass, cutoffs-wearing hussies in shape. She somehow convinces them all to form an all-girl football team. Good work, Tina.

Denise isn't doing so well teaching her chemistry class. The kids are unruly and rude. Of course, it might be because she says stuff like, "I thought you bohemians were big on intellect." Denise, as you probably already guessed, is the uptight one.

Free-spirited Sally is doing a little better. She's the photography teacher. She gives the kids an assignment: "Photograph something you think is obscene." That should go well.

So, Denise meets with Jeremy (Will Carney), the rebel, after class, to find out why he's such a fuckin’ prick. He tries to make out with her, so she smashes him in the face.

Meanwhile Sally, in a bitching halter top, goes shopping and literally runs into a dude she thinks is a celebrity. Dunno which one. Sonny Bono?

He watches her squeeze melons and, ahem, goes bananas. They make a date.

Meanwhile, there's a school board meeting about the girls’ football team. Sam is against it. Tina is adamant that this is going down whether he likes it or not.  The principal or whoever he is says she can add girls’ football to the curriculum next year if the team wins their first game, which is in a few weeks. I believe we now have the thrust of our plot.

Then she goes home and does jumping jacks on the fire escape, which is a best case scenario if you live next door to Candice Rialson. Unless you try and join in and fall off your fuckin' patio like her fat, dopey neighbor did.

Denise goes down to 'Flukies', the happenin’ burger joint in the neighborhood,  dressed up like one of the Jezebels in Switchblade Sisters. This is her attempt to relate to the kids. While she's there, she sees Jeremy get stabbed in a gang fight! She wraps up his bloody arm and drives him to the hospital in his crazy green dune buggy.

Meanwhile Sally is having her date with the mustache dude, who is apparently a famous rock star. He has a harp festooned with lights that he uses to cut vegetables with. He also has two kooky old ladies who live next door and listen to his conversations. Naturally, they confuse his dinner talk with sex talk. You know, "If you like my meat, you'll love my sauce." Stuff like that.

At one point, he accidentally spills his spaghetti sauce all over Sally’s dress, and she storms out of there. The old ladies poke their head out and faint because they think he banged her into a bloody mess.

Jeremy gets patched up and drives Denise home. They almost make out. She digs the bad boys, I guess. Underage ones. But he might be more of a bad boy then she thought, because the next day he gets suspended for stealing the brakes outta some kid’s car, which almost killed him.

Meanwhile, love is in the air for Tina. She goes out hiking with her new boyfriend and they stop for a picnic. They get loaded on champagne and get naked. Good times. And then she gets right back to business whipping her hotpants harlots into a functional sports team.

Denise thinks Jeremy is just a victim of circumstances, and bones him in his garage in a too-dark 'psychedelic' sex scene while a funky flute jam wails away on the soundtrack.

Sally, meanwhile, goes on a date with one of the other teachers, Bob (the awesomely named Grainger Hines). He takes her to a porn theater and then to a strip club. Classy! But then he takes her to a motorcross race and a drum circle, and they race go karts together. And then they go to to the beach, and then he takes her home for a nude photo shoot. What a day!

Back to the plot, such as it us. The school can't afford uniforms for the girls because Sam, that fuckin’ creep, pays his quarterbacks cold cash every time they score a touchdown. Tina finds this out when one of her girls rats out her boyfriend. If only Sam kept some kind of ledger detailing his shifty practices, and if only Tina could get her hands on it! But that’ll never happen.

Then our heroines all sit around in the kitchen in their bikinis and plan a party. So that's good.

Tina formulates a plan to nail Sam. She goes on a "date" with him and gets him drunk. Naturally, it's all a ruse. The football team all get dressed up in Charlie's Angels outfits and break into his office and get the goods on him. Nice work, team!'

So Tina and her buds have the party, which is really a photography exhibit for Sally’s class, you know, the obscenity thing. But for whatever reason, Sally uses it to show naked photos of Bob. He gets so pissed off that he prints his naked photos of Sally in a skin rag. The principal finds out, and suspends them both. He also doesn't believe Tinas story about Sammy, even though she has proof, so he suspends her, too. So they just sit on a bench together and ponder their fates.

Also, it turns out Jeremy really is being framed, and the principal is in on it - who knows what 'it' is - and he orders a hit on Jeremy. The guy that's supposed to kill him, Slick (one-time actor Brian Enright), looks like 70s James Taylor. Imagine getting murdered by James Taylor?! Jeremy certainly can't, because he busts outta there and they have a dune buggy race. Christ, there's way too much going on here. Suffice to say, the creeps get theirs and the all-girl football game goes on as planned with Coach Tina leading them. Also, because this is a mid 70's Roger Corman film, a bunch of nudists show up.

So what happens? Do they win the game? I dunno, but they do win the pre-game fistfight. You might be asleep by then anyway.

All the elements are in place for Summer School Teachers to be a trashy, fun drive-in crowd pleaser. After all, it’s got the effortlessly sunny and undeniably beautiful Candice Rialson, a gang of rowdy teenage chicks, a healthy dose of nudity, and summer antics. I mean, it’s almost impossible to mess a gig like this up. Yet, somehow, it never quite gets itself together. You’re never really engaged in the plot or the characters, and the whole thing just sorta unspools without consequence. It’s no surprise why this one hasn’t become a cult item like other Corman films of the era – Caged Heat, Big Bad Mama, Death Race 2000, etc – it’s just not very groovy. I gotta give it a ding by default, since all the pieces of the puzzle are there, but it’s honestly about as much fun as actual summer school.

- Ken 

Stacey says:
Hmmm... Summer School Teachers should have been a good time, no question. However, it's a mish-mash of interwoven plots that never seem to get together. It's slow and kind of boring. I found myself not paying much attention at times. Like Ken said, all the elements were there... it could have been fun. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't great either. Ding?

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