Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Student Body (1976)

For every movie that scores by mixing genres, it seems many more fail when attempting to do the same thing. Consider The Student Body, a messy hybrid that’s part sexploitation, part sci-fi conspiracy thriller, and part women-in-prison sleaze. Some viewers may be able to groove on the general tawdriness of the piece, even though the T&A quotient is fairly low, and some others may like the way the filmmakers bounce from one lurid topic to the next, creating a sampler of sensationalistic signifiers. For most viewers, however, watching The Student Body will result in boredom, confusion, and, thanks to plentiful scenes featuring the abuse of women, queasiness. The gist of the piece is that ethically challenged scientist Dr. Blalock (Warren Stevens) wants to run an experiment on human aggression, so he recruits three hard-luck cases from a women’s prison, then transplants them to a college campus, assigning each woman a male student as a companion. Blalock claims that he wants to discover whether an intellectually nurturing environment will cause the women to change their ways, but in secret, he’s being paid to give the women a drug that increases their worst tendencies. The women become destructive sex maniacs, leading to catfights, vandalism, and the like. Although the picture unfolds in a fairly smooth fashion, the acting is iffy, the plot never makes much sense, and the way director Gus Trikonis bounces from lighthearted scenes to tragic moments reflects an undisciplined storytelling style. Trikonis also wastes too much time on vignettes of the prison girls making out with their collegiate companions. Some of the starlets are pretty, and there’s some half-decent suspense stuff in the movie’s last half-hour, but none of it adds up to anything special. The central concept is too goofy and murky, the narrative execution is too chaotic, and the performances are too vapid. 

The Student Body: LAME

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