Once upon a time I was dating this guy, and we made it our thing to hole up in his boat, ingest various forms of intoxicants, have sex and watch a large number of movies not found at the local Blockbuster. Most of these came from either the now-defunct Videomatica in Vancouver, which had a HUGE collection of Something Weird videos, and also Black Dog Video. I usually had an eye out for the more erotic, trying to keep in the spirit of the evening, and so forth, but this guy was all over the map. One of these map selections is something he recalled from his early twenties and wanted to show me. It was the cinematic foray that brought three grind house queens to annex their power together to bring you SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA.
The plot finds Tri-Delta sorority pledges, Taffy (Brinke Stevens) and Lisa (Michelle Bauer) being subjected to ‘humiliating’ hazing to join the house. While being paddled by senior Tri-Deltas Babs (Robin Rochelle), Frankie (Carla Baron) and Rhonda (Kathi O’Brecht) and are later hosed with whipped cream, they are being watched by three drooling guys through the window. The boys Keith (John Stuart), Jimmie (Hal Havins) and Calvin (Andreas Jones) break into the house to spy at the door of the bathroom as the initiates have a rather, ahem, lengthy shower after their ordeal. When the boys are busted, Babs says the only way they won’t call the cops on them and if Taffy and Lisa want to gain access to the Tri-Deltas is to break into the bowling alley in her father’s mall and bring back a bowling trophy as proof.
But Babs and the others decide to screw with them, and matters are further complicated by Linnea Quigley as Spider, attempting to rob the joint and the discovery that the bowling trophy seals an ancient evil known as the Imp (or Uncle Impy, as he prefers to be called). So now we’ve got the melting pot of sorority Mean Girls, the wannabes, the guys, random tough chick and the Imp. This, all in a empty mall, is the fertile soil in which shenanigans take place. If I can put aside all my feelings about how this inflames my 3rd wave feminist sensibilities like Sriracha on an ulcer, this is a pretty funny film just for it’s outlandishness. Between the voice of ‘Uncle’ Impy which put me in mind of a dimestore Audrey 2, and the loose play on The Monkey’s Paw there were times I genuinely had to stop making out or what have you to go, ‘what just happened there’?
Now, I know there will be some suspension of disbelief that is required to watch a film of this nature. I’m also acutely aware that the misogynist hand that penned a lot of these scripts weren’t looking to elevate the genre into a higher art form. The formula was babes, boobs, a monster, and maybe some blood. It worked for a long time but I feel that when I saw this, as funny as it was as you regard a relic from a more racist, sexist time as funny for it’s day, this was the straw the broke the camel’s back. From the boys referring to the sorority as ‘Felta-Delta’ and creeping the house to watch the hazing and showering, to the message at the end of the film where be being the nice guy, you are in fact the default guy who gets the girl. Not
because there is an amazing connection shared between you and she, but because of three guys, you are the least creepiest. I have to say, that’s a shitty message to be beaming out there. I recognize that this film is not unusual from it’s counterparts of the day, but a as viewer now, holy shit… I feel like looking around and asking if this makes anyone else here a little uncomfortable with the rapey vibes that seem to be the undercurrent in the film.
I don’t think the filmmakers did this on purpose. I think they made a film that was meant to generate money and they figured this was the best approach to take. But I feel like the drive I feel with some many more fledgling filmmakers to distinguish themselves from this period in the genre is telling. People still want the goofy, fun scariness, but with rounded out characters that have something to contribute to the storytelling, and aren’t gimmicks to get the female leads naked for the sake of naked. I like naked, but I want it to fit with the style of film and to serve a purpose, or to further the character or the story. And paddling and whip cream? Shit, that’s not hazing by even the standards of the ‘eighties… that sounds like a first-date, ‘Dear Penthouse’ type deal. Have you met women? We can be vicious when we want to be, and I’m fairly certain that the hazing could have had some crazy horror elements added, not just spank material for guys in the ‘eighties to have in the basement, jacking it to the VHS cassette.
In re-watching it recently (and not under any influences this time) I felt like there could have been some really good chances to develop a true horror story here, and in the case of substance over (fluffy, campy ‘eighties) style, substance got shot down in a fiery blaze. As a result, if you plan on watching it, do as an appreciation of a relic from a time before, that we shan’t be returning back to again. If you watch it with a sense that what you’re basically doing the visual equivalent of eating an entire box of BooBerry cereal, you can take these matters with a grain of salt, and enjoy it for its ridiculousness, and for the funny Imp puppet.
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