Sunday 22 January 2017

Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-o-Rama (David DeCoteau, 1988) Blu-Ray Review

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“Demons murdering your friends? I gotta tell you both, kids – drugs are not the answer.” Hailing from the heyday of the video rental store, when movies like this were hidden away at the back near the infamous beaded curtain and teen boys had few options for titillation if they couldn't find a discarded smut mag on the railway tracks, David (Creepozoids) DeCoteau's goofball cult favourite makes quite an impression. Not only did they make a movie in such a short time (ten days to write, two weeks to shoot), but  Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-o-Rama is still being talked about thirty years on...

Click “READ MORE” below to continue the review and see more screenshots…

“Who said humiliation is the only way to join a sorority?” It's pledge time at the Tri Delta sorority and Babs (Robin Rochelle, Slumber Party Massacre), the sadistic leader of the group, has two prospective sorority sisters to trial: Lisa (Michelle Bauer – as McClellen, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers) and Taffy (Brinke Stevens, Slave Girls From Beyond Infinity). Meanwhile, three hopeless nerds sink beers, gawk at horror movies, and drool over skin rags – until they hatch a plan: to scope out tonight's proceedings at Tri Delta (aka 'Felta Delta'). Rocking up just in time to see skimpy crop tops, silk underwear, and paddled butts, they sneak inside only to get caught peeping on the two pledges as they enjoy a particularly lengthy shower (whipped cream makes an awful mess, doesn't it?).

“You really should consider prison work, babe: Brutal Babs – the Wicked Warden!” Captured by Babs, the boys and the Tri Delta pledges are given a punishment for their indiscretion: break in to the local bowling alley and steal a trophy. Little do they know, but Babs' father owns the joint and the Tri Delta girls – Babs, Rhonda (Kathi O'Brecht), and Frankie (Carla Baron) – are using the CCTV to spy on the hapless bunch with a trick in store. However, when the gang encounter Spider (Linnea Quigley, Return of the Living Dead) – a tough girl from the streets – and accidentally unleash an Imp that grants wishes (voiced by Michael Sonye – credited as Dukey Flyswatter), things spin wildly out of control.

“Shut up, Waterhead. We'll be alone in the deserted bowling alley with two frightened, gorgeous girls needing male companionship!” / “Oh, hey, let the punishment fit the crime.” It all seems like fun and games – Prom Queen dreams and riches beyond your wildest imagination quickly appear – but these wishes have a habit of turning sour. Keith (John Stuart Wildman), for instance, wants to make it with Lisa and wishes for her to take a fancy to him – surely the dream of many lonely young chaps – but his feet turn sub-zero when he ends up with an unstoppable nympho. But being porked into oblivion is the least of his (and everyone's) worries as a couple of the girls have been transformed into demons with a thirst for blood.

“Damn! Sucker's gonna be the size of a Donkey's dick come day light … guess I'll just have to learn to scratch my balls with t'other hand. Good thing I love my work.” Naturally, with a title as whacked-out as that (far better than the original moniker 'The Imp'), Sorority Babes... leans in hard to the more humorous aspects of the story while taking it easy on the gore. Calvin (Andras Jones, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4) gets blitzed on a single beer, severed heads become gutter balls, and the Janitor (George 'Buck' Flower – as C.D. LaFleur – 'Red' the bum in Back to the Future) takes the 'bumbling fool' to a new level. Laden with cheese (in a good way) and drizzled on top with a solid amount of the saucy stuff, DeCoteau's film – written by Sergei Hasenecz – might lose some momentum deep into the second act, but the flick's just so much damn fun that the weak points fade into the background.

“What is this? The Midnight Wimp Bowling League?” Visually the film is very strong thanks to  cinematographer Stephen Ashley Blake, whose lighting gifts the film with a rich variety of visuals from wonderfully-80s bloom effects to effectively illuminated locations that provide a sense of scale and depth rarely seen in this kind of pulp fare. Otherwise, the film is a little rough around the edges – the pit stop quick screenwriting process and the speedy production mean the acting and dialogue don't always shine – but the sheer gusto that the film exhibits makes up for it. Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-o-Rama was never destined for mainstream acceptance or vast riches to rain down upon it, but it has out-lived many films that the Academy would deem far 'worthier'. New audiences won't have nostalgia to fall back on to help with their appreciation of the film, but those of a mindset suited to such fare – you know who you are, and hell, I'm one of you lot – will have a fun old time.

“Keith – I have your pants.” Restored from the original negative, with your choice of a new 5.1 audio mix or the original stereo (the purists will be thankful for that), Full Moon Pictures have breathed new life into their low budget cult classic. Distributed in the UK by 88 Films – one of the premier labels that caters to your niche movie needs – the Blu-Ray features an introduction, trailer, reversible sleeve, audio commentary, and most enticing of all – a two hour and fifteen minute behind the scenes documentary (with an accompanying commentary of its own).

However, far from a revealing retrospective with a host of interviews – as any genre fan would hope for – 'Tales From The Bowling Alley' is, in fact, a collection of brief interview clips with the Director spliced between lengthy, raw, and unedited on-set footage captured primarily during the two days spent shooting 'pick ups'. The decision to edit the interview clips between these segments of VHS footage (as long as 20 or 30 minutes at a time) means the thread of discussion across the clips is entirely lost. Indeed, it would have been far better to trim down the raw footage into more streamlined chunks – do we really need to see the painstaking process of gluing one latex appliance to an actress' face in real-time?! However, complaints aside, two segments are particularly interesting: a segment covering an all-consuming fire stunt, and an on-set interview with the cinematographer provides an in-depth technical study of the lighting and shooting process.

N.B. Screenshots taken from the trailer, not the Blu-Ray disc itself (I don't have a Blu-Ray drive in my computer, so can't take screenshots from HD discs).

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