NO-BUDGET NIGHTMARES – SORORITY BABES IN THE DANCE-A-THON OF DEATH (1991)

 

Damn you Todd Sheets! DAMN YOU TO HELL!

 

While ostensibly a sequel to David DeCoteau’s scream queen-packed 1988 film SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA, this 1991 horror comedy from Sheets actually has almost nothing in common with the “original”, aside from the presence of sorority gals and a producing credit from DeCoteau himself. In fact, this shot-on-VHS production has a LOT more in common with Sheets’ later PREHISTORIC BIMBOS IN ARMAGEDDON CITY, since it shares much of the same cast, locations, production values and even features it’s theme song. Instead this is a confusing, shoddy and incomprehensible production that somehow manages to be offensive despite not delivering on any of the promises of the title. Despite being labeled as “The biggest, boobiest bimbo-fest of them all!”, this is a shockingly tame and ponderous effort which fits a whole lot of idiocy into its 69 minute runtime.

 

 

The Kappa Beta sorority, who spend their time playing a strange bastardization of Twister between rounds of pinball and daytime seances, jump at the opportunity to join the more popular (and fashion conscious) Felta Delta sorority. Along with two complete dickheads (who crash their party by pretending to be pizza delivery men), the gals have to spend the night in an abandoned – and possibly haunted – college. Alas, their earlier seance accidentally unleashed a kandarian demon who had been trapped inside a crystal ball, and the malevolent force immediately possesses one of their members. It’ll take the descendant of the witch that trapped the demon in the first place to track down the girls and stop it, but will he get there in time? And will they end up at some stupid club? And will there be dancing? Someone tell me, please!

 

It’s really hard to properly explain just how terrible the early films of Todd Sheets truly are. The acting is some of the worst you’ll ever see, with lines like “She’s not even Beverly. She’s something else. Something evil” delivered as if English was the actor’s third or fourth language. Everything looks fuzzy and soft – even when considering the limitations of the format – and the editing appears to have been done by repeatedly running over pieces of the videotape with a bicycle until they severed, before being reassembled with chewing gum. Often, you can hear Sheets himself saying “CUT!” or “ACTION!” in the background, though actual dialogue ranges from confusing to unintelligible. It’s a mess, though an occasionally fascinating one. Characters are introduced, only to immediately vanish. Plot points are brought up and forgotten. One scene even appears to repeat entirely. And these girls are already IN a sorority! What’s the deal with that?

 

 

I don’t mean to harp on the acting quality, but even for a no-budget film the acting in SORORITY BABES IN THE DANCE-A-THON OF DEATH is poor. While, unlike NIGHTMARE ASYLUM, there seems to have been an actual script, characters either appear to be (badly) reading the dialogue, or throwing words around so violently that they could easily be mistaken for an alien desperately trying to pass itself off as human. The sorority girls are all pitiful, while Matthew Lewis – who was the best of a bad bunch in NIGHTMARE ASYLUM – is notably awful. His part is particularly badly written, and full of lame jokes, but Lewis reads them off with all the charisma of a pineapple.

 

Perhaps most distressingly, especially when compared to the David DeCoteau film, is that Sheets’ film has absolutely no nudity and almost no violence. In fact, the attitude towards sex as a whole has all the sophistication of a grade-schooler. Special effects are cheap and unconvincing, with one scene featuring the possessed Beverly removing her eyeballs ranking with some of the silliest attempts at horror ever presented on-screen. The other murders either occur off camera, or involve the “babes” falling awkwardly to the floor after being strangled. One character does have a chunk of wood shoved down their throat, but it’s more comical than gruesome.

 

 

I don’t want to sound entirely negative, as with properly rock-bottom expectations there’s still fun to be had here. The bickering old antique shop owners have some enjoyably feisty moments, and there are a few gags referring to b-movie cliches that might raise a chuckle. And, of course, I never get tired of hearing that “Prehistoric Bimbos in Armageddon City” theme song, and the music as a whole is a vast improvement on NIGHTMARE ASYLUM. There’s also the inherent humor in witnessing just how terrible the whole production is, which can actually get you pretty far in a production this plagued with failings.

 

 

Yeah, this really isn’t something you want to put your eyeballs through. It’s a failure on almost every conceivable level, and the poor video quality makes even poking fun at it an exhausting and frustrating experience. As ill conceived as NIGHTMARE ASYLUM was, this somehow manages to be even worse. And that’s saying something. Todd Sheets was a tremendously positive influence on potential filmmakers in the late 80s and early 90s with his DIY attitude and prolific output, but there’s really no excuse for the final results being this unwatchably bad, even understanding the difficulties of putting together self-financed, no-budget productions at the time. And while audiences now can get their naked ladies a dozen different ways, not delivering on any nudity was a lame bait and switch on Sheets’ part, and would have certainly frustrated any fans of DeCoteau’s original film. Stay away.

 

Happy Birthday, Todd Sheets.

 

Five Nightmares out of Five – PLEASE KILL ME

 

One Nightmare – No-Budget Perfection, Two Nightmares – Shocking Success, Three Nightmares – Shows Potential, Four Nightmares – Not Much Fun, Five Nightmares – Please Kill Me

 

Join us this week for the latest NO-BUDGET NIGHTMARES Podcast where Daily Grindhouse contributor Moe Porne and I will discuss SORORITY BABES IN THE DANCE-A-THON OF DEATH.

 

Doug Tilley

Doug has been a geek for as long as he’s been alive, but has only been blogging about film since 2008; originally writing for his personal site and eventually moving to Daily Grindhouse where he writes regularly about micro-budget films and film-makers in his No-Budget Nightmares column. At the end of 2011 he started the popular No-Budget Nightmares podcast with Moe Porne, and regularly contributes to a variety of other genre film podcasts. He likes movies, movies and movies.

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