Directors: Steve Carver/Gus Trikonis
Code Red Releasing

If you thought Code Red and Maria’s B-Movie Mayhem’s pairing of WEEKEND PASS and THE GAMES GUYS PLAY was an odd double bill, you’re in for another schizophrenic experience with the seemingly fitting double feature of college exploitation films JOCKS and the mysterious CLASSROOM TEASERS.

In JOCKS, grumpy Los Angeles College football coach Bettlebom (R.G. Armstrong, RACE WITH THE DEVIL) wants to cut the men’s tennis team to free up funding and scholarships for the other teams; but the school’s president White (Christopher Lee of all people) points out that the men’s tennis team is the only school team that has won a championship since Bettlebom took over eight years prior and “Nobody likes or supports losers.” Bettlebom reluctantly lifts fratboy slob/tennis star The Kid’s (Scott Strader, THE KARATE KID) suspension but warns tennis coach Chip Williams (Richard Roundtree, SHAFT) that he will hold him personally responsible for the behavior of his team of “degenerates” and will fire him if the team doesn’t win. The Kid and his awkward preppy doubles partner Jeff (Perry Lang, THE HEARSE) take the road for a country-wide competition in Las Vegas where they join their teammates: Michael Jackson-clone Andy (Stoney Jackson, STREETS OF FIRE), walking Latino stereotype Chito (Trinidad Silva, UHF), the self-explanatory “Tex” (Adam Mills, SNOWBALLING), and pulverizing behemoth Ripper (REVENGE OF THE NERDS’ Donald Gibb). Arrogant Texas competitors Chris (BRUCE ALMIGHTY director Tom Shadyac) and Tony (Christopher Murphy, THE ABYSS) peg the Los Angeles team as a bunch of buffoons until they witness them smoke the Arizona team with a bag of psychological tricks. Eager to get to the finals, Chris and Tony decide to sabotage the Los Angeles team, targeting The Kid – especially since Tony’s ex-girlfriend Nicole (LAW & ORDER: SVU’s Mariska Hargitay) has taken a liking to him – specifically with the nonstop partying and then blackmail. Further complications arrive when President White shows up to watch the competition and Bettlebom shows up to expose the team’s “degeneracy”.

An undemanding timewaster, Crown International’s JOCKS tries a little too hard to be zany with the team’s comic antics overstated (and their playing relegated to close-ups of the actors slamming balls off-camera with force and at heights that suggest they’re going to go way out of bounds). It’s easy to see why Strader’s “The Kid” would rub just about everyone the wrong way, while Lang has proven in other films – including Code Red’s other release THE GIRLS NEXT DOOR/TEEN LUST – of this period he’s better as the straight man than the goof he overplays here. Lee seems to be thoroughly enjoying himself here, especially in the opening sequence where he castigates Bettlebom while wielding a rapier (he finishes the scene with a parrying with imaginary musketeers, presumably in the Comte de Rochefort role he played in Richard Lester’s film version), and Roundtree gets by with his dignity intact. Armstrong’s performance seems more perfectly pitched than some of the younger actors for the sight gags. The romance between The Kid and Nicole isn’t particularly well-developed and it’s never really explained how he gets out of the blackmail plot, and we’re kind of left to reason how the other blackmail plot involving Bettlebom resolves. THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL’s Katherine Kelly Lang plays Chris’ girlfriend.

Previously released on VHS by RCA/Columbia and then on DVD by previous Crown International rights holders Rhino (in a double feature with HUNK), and then individually by BCI (as well as in their SCHOOL DAZED eight film collection) and Mill Creek (in their TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL twelve film collection) in a couple multi-film sets (presumably in an older master), JOCKS comes to Code Red in a progressive, anamorphic 1.78:1 transfer from a 35mm print that starts out a bit speckly. The colors are saturated but the night scenes are a little harsh-looking (Adam Greenberg’s photography of the night scenes isn’t quite so luminous as his work on THE LAST AMERICAN VIRGIN or NEAR DARK but it may perhaps be due to the harried shooting schedule and the difficulty of lighting busy Las Vegas exterior and interior locations). There’s a faint layer of hiss on the Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track, but it never interferes with the dialogue or music.

The film can also be viewed with an audio commentary track by director Steve Carver (THE ARENA) with moderator/hostess Maria Kanellis. Carver initially turned the script down but eventually accepted although he found it impossible to make the script better (the writer was a tennis player and was firm about keeping the script as it was) and film tennis in an exciting fashion. He also had no control over the music choices, so the post-production period was difficult trying to fit the “action” scenes to the selected songs. The production ran out of money several times, leading to a lot of on-set tension. Lee, Armstrong, and Roundtree came on to the production because he had worked with them before and asked them to do it (the younger cast members were also apparently not too impressed with the script, and he had to find a happy medium between good tennis players and good actors). Despite Carver’s displeasure with the project, it was through his networking that he was able to utilize many of the Los Angeles and Las Vegas locations (although there were still plenty of guerilla shoots including the car wreck). Kanellis likes the film – particularly the scenes with Gibb – and her enthusiasm keeps Carver talking about a project that fell far short of even his low expectations for it.

The titular CLASSROOM TEASERS appear to be a troublesome trio women’s prison inmates: angry Carrie (Jillian Kesner, FIRECRACKER), childishly impulsive Mitzi (June Fairchild, DETROIT 9000), and nymphomaniac “Chicago” (Janice Heiden, 99 AND 44/100% DEAD). Their warden decides that the only way he can get rid of them is to allow them to take part in an experimental drug program investigation aggressive behavior at the local Kansas City college. In exchange for an early release, they will have to agree to the drug treatment, intensive psychotherapy by the study’s designer Dr. Blalock (Warren Stevens, FORBIDDEN PLANET) – in whose stately home they will be living – and pass their classes. The cynical girls are naturally skeptical about the experiment but will do anything to get out. Blalock pairs them with three of his male students: Carrie with jock Phil (Sanford Lee), Mitzi with nerdy Leroy (David Ankrum, LINDA LOVELACE FOR PRESIDENT), and Chicago with preppy John (Alan McRae, TV’s DALLAS). Unbeknownst to the girls, they are under video surveillance in their bedrooms by cop Vernon (Vic Jolley, 69 MINUTES) who is camped out in Blalock’s cellar. The girls settle into their college routine of classes and therapy sessions with Blalock testing their aggression and competitiveness; however, interpersonal conflict soon arises since the girls’ student partners are looking to bed them, much to the displeasure of John’s lab tech girlfriend Sharon (Faith Barnhart, SUPERVAN). Meanwhile, Carrie prefers Dr. Blalock’s urbane son Carter (Peter Hooten, BO DEREK’S FANTASIES) to Phil (although off-camera Kesner presumably had her eyes on the film’s cinematographer Gary Graver since she would marry him some time after). Futhermore, the drugs they are taking seem to be having the opposite side effects in increasing their aggressive behavior (Mitzi crashes a party with skinnydipping and later engages in vandalism, Carrie flies into a rage during a class lecture, and Chicago attacks both John and Sharon). As Carrie probes the study with Carter’s help, Blalock himself begins to have misgivings about the study despite his imperious wife’s (Judith Roberts, aka DEAD SILENCE’s “Mary Shaw” and SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT’s monstrous Mother Superior) urgings that they need the money promised to them for this very unofficial study.

CLASSROOM TEASERS is a misleading reissue title, but even more so misleading in its double bill on disc with JOCKS. It’s in no way a comedy or a sex film; indeed, the filmmakers or at least the distributors seem to have had no idea how to market it. The original release under the title THE STUDENT BODY describes the experiment as transforming the girls “from inmates to classmates to playmates” and describes them as setting “education back 100 years..!” while the CLASSROOM TEASERS poster says “They bend every rule to turn on the school.” Although definitely rated R – for language, violence, as well as Kesner’s breasts being groped and some other incidental nudity – the film is never quite sinister enough nor fully exploitative of its… well, exploitation potentials. It’s still recommended for fans of Kesner and of director Gus Trikonis (FIVE THE HARDWAY, SUPERCOCK) who gravitated to episodic television following a couple more films in the 1980s. The film was the second of four collaborations between Trikonis and producer Ed Carlin (SUPERSTITION) which also included THE SWINGING BARMAIDS, MOONSHINE COUNTY EXPRESS, and the atmospheric haunted house film THE EVIL. Screenwriter Hubert Smith also penned MOONSHINE COUNTY EXPRESS as well as the Ross Hagen films NIGHT CREATURE and THE GLOVE. The production company is listed as Brandywine, but it seems to share no production personnel with Ken Russell’s WOMEN IN LOVE (196?) or the later ALIEN films. Composers Don Bagley and Steve Michaels had already scored the X-rated PANORAMA BLUE and would later work on YOUNG LADY CHATTERLEY.

CLASSROOM TEASERS was released stateside on one of Continental Video’s big box double features as THE STUDENT BODY with John Hayes’ JAILBAIT BABYSITTER (1977). I haven’t seen that release but the box lists a running time of 75 minutes (and it may have been shortened for the tape double bill or a theatrical issue), but Code Red’s transfer – bearing the replacement CLASSROOM TEASERS title card for the 1983 Surrogate Films reissue – runs 82 minutes and 42 seconds. Sourced from a scratchy 35mm print, the progressive image can be colorful but the overall color schemes are largely bland. The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track is fine.

The films can be viewed individually or with the Maria’s B Movie Mayhem playback mode which pairs them up with Maria Kanellis making introductory and closing remarks. Of JOCKS, she highlights almost all of the recognizable actors (with the exception of Armstrong), and of course expresses bewilderment about why the co-feature was called CLASSROOM TEASERS when there was very little teasing going on. The disc also includes a start-up trailer for FAMILY HONOR as well as trailers for DEVIL’S THREE, THE BABYSITTER, and WEEKEND PASS. (Eric Cotenas)