Monday 10 July 2023

Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-o-rama 2 (Brinke Stevens, 2022) Review

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It's nothing, just a little debauchery … in the bowling alley.” Belated sequels are always a tricky sell. Can you ever truly recapture the magic of the original movie(s), the texture and tone of the way they were shot, the time in which they were made, even the attitudes of the period? Do you risk trampling on the memory of what came before – just look at what happened with Indiana Jones, which (at the time of writing) is looking to be on-course for a disastrous reception to it's fifth entry (a belated-sequel of a belated-sequel). So, what about a raunchy horror-comedy from the heyday of the VHS rental era – what will a thirty-four year gap between films mean to the tale of a nefarious Imp trapped inside a bowling trophy?...

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Pi-Delta have always been the stink end of the sorority stick – ingrates, degenerates, outcasts – filled with bad grades and easy, fast girls … God, I miss those days!” It's pledge night at Pi-Ep, with head girl Sarah (Jessie Gill) desperate to return the beleaguered sorority to its glory days before their reputation was tarnished in the wake of multiple mysterious deaths in the local bowling alley thirty-plus years ago. Apparently Linnea Quigley's character, Spider, from the original film was a pledge sister of the Pi-Ep sorority, and now her sister Snake (Kelli Maroney, Scare Package II) is the hard-nosed den mother of the cursed bunch.

In our day we wore it like a badge of honour – our walks of shame were legendary.” Sadly for Sarah, only three pledges want anything to do with the sorority: busty 'n' bubbly Ginger (Audrey Neal), tattooed blonde Devon (Hannah Tullett), and husky-voiced street-tough Bitsy (Glory Rodriguez). Will Pi-Ep even be able to scrape together enough to pay their dues? Who knows, and who really cares? Not screenwriter Kent Roudebush (Evil Bong 3 through 8), who whisks us away to a trio of catastrophically uncharismatic frat bros – Turkey (Nathan Blair), Dinger (Justin Lupo), and Bart (Luka Parente) – who have installed a couple of super-obvious webcams in the girls' shower to spy on them (not that they seem to notice!). Er...?

No man shall fill my void.” Captured, but not in the slightest bit punished for their transgressions, the frat boys merrily join the sorority girls as they seek to perform the final task of their pledge to Pi-Ep. So what exactly needs doing? Return to the bowling alley and, yup, steal the same old trophy all over again. Surely nothing bad will come of totally re-hashing the same plot of the original movie?

I like her bottom line.” Already struggling to navigate the tone, Sorority Babes 2 stumbles forth with its cast of wretched frat boys and party girls with paper thin personalities, flailing about wildly as it tries to rip-off the original movie beat-by-beat (ish), but with none of the enjoyable pizazz or sparky charm of the original film and its cast. Speaking of, when this new set of college co-eds accidentally unleash the wish-granting Imp from its bowling trophy prison, Taffy and Lisa (Brinke Stevens, also serving as Director, and Michelle Bauer) from the original movie make a cameo appearance. It's nice to see them back, but it's too little far too late at around 40 minutes into a 62 minute movie … yes, sixty-two minutes all-in.

That looks kinda ouchie.” Having played for time in a fairly uninteresting manner for much of the duration thus far, the movie suddenly gets itself into a heck of a rush to whip through some wishes-gone-wrong as encounters with 'the perfect man' and literally being able to crap-out cash go awry. Indeed, the movie is in such a God-damned rush that nobody thought to pull down one of the frat boy's jeans before projectile-farting-out of oodles of greenbacks. But this is the unfortunate case with this belated sequel – too little time, too little thought, and too little money has been invested into it. The first half drags, the second half is in a terrible hurry, and playing-for-time only really works when you've got the script and the performers to pull it off (see the 1980s Scream Queen trifecta of Linnea Quigley, Michelle Bauer, and Brinke Stevens in the first-half of Nightmare Sisters for an excellent example of how to do it right).

These chicks are full-on free spirits.” Unfortunately, the flatly-lit and atmosphere-free Sorority Babes 2 never really finds its footing, and falls a great deal short of its beloved predecessor. However, it'd be entirely unfair to overlook the admirably game efforts of the likes of Audrey Neal and Jessie Gill, the latter of whom really goes all-in to stand-out, imbuing her underwritten character with much more charm and humour than the source material seemingly provided. It's a shame, really, as the entire cast have either very little or nothing at all to work with. Bitsy is just a poor man's Spider and her slapdash 'romance' with Turkey comes out-of-nowhere and isn't in the slightest bit earned, while almost everyone else gets three fifths of bugger all to chew on.

Be careful, big boy – my Daddy's in the NRA.” Considering the notion that the Pi-Ep sorority are at risk of not being able to pay-off their dues at all, it's baffling that the movie opts to just do a lazy retread of the original flick. The movie could have started with, fittingly and for instance, a bikini car wash gone wrong in a disastrous attempt to get the cash to pay the dues – the mysterious reputation of Pi-Ep and their run of bad luck could have come into play from the get-go. Taking pity on the likes of Sarah and her cohort Tiffany (Katie O'Neill), Ginger and Devon (perhaps made to look more as outsiders failing to get in at any other sorority) could have chosen to pledge to Pi-Ep with Bitsy joining-in with a much more fleshed-out backstory to tie her to Auntie Snake.

Then, upon discovering that a wish-granting creature lay inside that fabled bowling trophy, Sarah could have instructed her pledges to steal it and bring it back to the sorority house so she could use it to try and solve all of the sorority's problems. Combined with more defined and fulfilling characters, greatly-improved pacing (the original ran for a brisk, but suitable, 80 minutes), better-deployed raunchiness, and some decent low budget gore gags, and Sorority Babes 2 might have turned out to be a little gem. Instead though, Brinke Stevens and the cast have been lumbered with this frustrating swing-and-a-miss. This could have – and should have – been so much more than it turned out to be.

Word to the wise, choose your words wisely.” Supposedly, the budget for this movie was $500,000, but fibbing about such figures is a common practice in the world of low budget exploitation filmmaking. However, it's a bit of a piss-take when you consider that the original 1988 movie was not only a far better looking movie (and shot on real film, not digital), featured much more coverage, special effects, and two major stunts (a full body burn and a spectacular car flip) – and all for $90,000, which, when adjusted for 2022 inflation, is just north of $222,000. Suffice to say, but there's no way in Hell this movie cost half a million dollars, and if it actually did then I simply don't know where the money went – because it sure as shite wasn't in the vicinity of the screen.

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