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Johnny LaRue's Crane Shot
Sunday, August 28, 2005
The Student Body Always Scores
Ended up spending yesterday with a friend who came to town to visit his dad in the hospital. He crashed at my place, so we stayed up late watching four (!) deliciously crappy movies. One of them was 1974's SUMMER SCHOOL TEACHERS, a New World release executive-produced by Roger Corman and produced by his wife Julie. The writer and director was Barbara Peeters. It was even more rare then than it is today to find woman directors in Hollywood, and virtually none of them were making exploitation films. Peeters and Stephanie Rothman, who briefly co-owned her own independent studio, Dimension Pictures, were about the only ones.

Following in the footsteps of New World hits like THE STUDENT TEACHERS and CANDY STRIPE NURSES came this interesting feminist tract disguised as a T&A film. Three Midwestern farmgirls move to Los Angeles to teach high school and maybe find love in the process. Blond Conklin T. (the wonderful Candice Rialson) teaches girls' P.E. and tries to organize an all-female football team, much to the consternation of male chauvinist athletic director Sam (badass Dick Miller, who later appeared with Rialson in HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD). Science teacher Denise (cute Rhonda Leigh Hopkins) falls for a teenage hood who gets kidnapped by a car theft gang, while Sally (Pat Anderson) teaches photography and poses for some sexy shots of her own.

Typically for these New World formula films, SUMMER SCHOOL TEACHERS fulfills the requirements of an exploitation movie with copious nudity and slapstick humor, but also contains serious subtext. SUMMER SCHOOL TEACHERS is deep down a feminist treatise on women's liberation and empowerment in which, yep, the girls get naked, but only on their own terms for their own pleasure. Conklin and Company are the smartest characters in the movie, and use both their brains and bodies to break down "the Man's" rule.

I'm not advocating SUMMER SCHOOL TEACHERS as any kind of classic, but it's much more ambitious than those who turn down their noses at drive-in flicks would be willing to admit.

Peeters' last film for Corman was 1980's HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP, which was apparently quite a personal setback for her. The story is that Corman hired a second director to go back and film gore and nude scenes against Peeters' wishes and inserted them into the film. It's actually a good movie, a throwback to '50s sci-fi, as Doug McClure, Ann Turkel and Vic Morrow battle an army of slimy amphibians that invade a small town and rape their women. The sleazier material, like one monster ripping apart a tent and having its way with a buxom nude girl, was never filmed by Peeters, but Corman felt it was necessary for audiences anticipating that type of film from New World. And he was probably right.

Posted by Marty at 10:35 AM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (3) | Permalink

Sunday, August 28, 2005 - 5:10 PM CDT

Name: kt

how come we never watched that?! that sounds good.

Monday, August 29, 2005 - 9:31 AM CDT

Name: Ken Begg
Home Page:

"Corman felt it was necessary for audiences anticipating that type of film from New World. And he was probably right."

Yeah, you can argue about various aspects of Corman's career and business practices--Joe Dante has some hilarious tales of Corman-related woe on his commentary for the Piranha DVD--but in terms of knowing his audience, it's difficult to fault the guy.

Monday, August 29, 2005 - 10:28 AM CDT

Name: Marty McKee

And I should add that this was a very common practice for Corman. He took Jack Hill off of SORCERESS and hired someone else to finish the film. GALAXY OF TERROR features several gory shots, including Erin Moran's death scene and Taaffe O'Connell's rape-by-space-worm, that were added in post-production. I believe FORBIDDEN WORLD has some extra splatter not directed by Allan Holzman. Miller Drake wrote and directed an entirely new prologue to SCREAMERS that has nothing whatsoever to do with the rest of the film. And a much earlier film, BLOOD BATH, is available in at least three different versions, since Corman considered Jack Hill's original cut to be a mess and hired Stephanie Rothman to shoot more stuff that actually changed Hill's plot.

Corman was a very hands-on executive producer, and even though many of his suggestions weren't good ones (like his idea to make ROCK 'N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL about disco and his insistence upon "skip-framing" his car chases), most of them made his films better than if he had allowed his young, inexperienced directors final cut.

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