Friday, January 30, 2009

Loose Screws (1985)

AKA Screwballs II
Directed by Rafal Zielinski
Starring Bryan Genesse, Lance Van Der Kolk, Cynthia Beliveau
Rated R

"You like getting your perverted little hands wet?"
"I guess I'm gonna have to answer yes to that one, sir."

I suppose, given the cultural barometer of the times, that it made sense, this comical name-giving that Loose Screws presents us with. After all, the mid 80's was a time when idiotic names were willfully accepted, when it was perfectly ok to call yourself Nikki Sixx, Blackie Lawless, or Jizzy Pearl. But I feel you should be forewarned, as these are truly moronic waters we will be navigating today. Here, then, is a smattering of character names in Loose Screws: Hugh G Rection, Marvin Eatmore (he's the fat one, haha!) Nikki Nystroke, Tracey Gratehead, Hilda Von Blow, Mona Lott. If you can hang with that sort of company, then let us proceed.

Although he has mostly abandoned the genre at this point, director Rafal Zielinski - an MIT graduate, incidentally - helmed an impressive amount of teen sex comedies between 1983 and 1989: Screwballs (1983), Loose Screws, Recruits (1986), Valet Girls (1987), Heavy Metal Summer (1988), Screwball Hotel (1988), Ginger Ale Afternoon (1989). His style has a distinctive 70's grindhouse feel, a willful grubbiness that mashes weird looking characters, cheap sex gags, shabby production values and often surreal dialogue into a slimy grab-bag of bad fun. A Zielinski film leaves you off-kilter, unsure as to what just happened or what happens next. They're like the cinematic equivalent of sucker punch.

Case in point: the first breast-baring in Loose Screws occurs a mere 26 seconds into the film, which may be some sort of record. The opening credits roll out a montage of fun-loving hijinks courtesy of our four main mischief makers: Blonde alpha-jerk Steve Hardman (Lance Van Der Kolk, whose real name sounds equally phony-baloney), zany cocksman Brad Lovett (Bryan Genesse), mad tinkerer Hugh G Rection (Alan Deveau, Screwballs), and fat-ass Marvin Eatmore (Jason Warren). It's the last day of school at Beaver High (ahem) and they spend it mostly harassing women. Life seems pretty sweet until their Bill Murray-esque principal informs the four young troublemakers that they'll be spending the next three months in summer school. "A college for morons," he tells them.

Off they go. For condemned men, they seem pretty happy about it, zipping down the road in a convertible laughing and carrying on. I guess they really are morons.

The boys arrive at summer school - Coxwell Academy, natch - and start pulling pranks immediately. The first bus full of students pulls in, so the fellas pretend to be doctors and perform breast exams on the girls, until the fat one - who's been hiding in a closet - has an intimate encounter with a skeleton, which sends the girls screaming naked through the halls. It's up to Principal Arsenault (Mike McDonald, Oddballs) to straighten these fuckers out. Meanwhile, in saunters the sexy new French teacher, Mona Lott (Cynthia Belliveau, Goofballs), lighting fires under both Arsenault and the boys. There, in a nutshell, is our plot: who gets to bang Mona, the stuffy principal, or one of the smart-ass kids?

You can sorta understand their preoccupation with the woman, since everything she says is soaked in porn innuendo. This is what tells the kids in French class:
"A well-lubricated throat is essential. Remember, for good French, you must take a very long...deep...breath."
Etc. That kinda thing can drive a man nuts.

Lott's dirty mouth notwithstanding, there are plenty of other fleshly distractions at Coxwell, so the guys decide to start a get-laid competition. Mona Lott is the big prize, netting a cool hundred points, but there's a myriad of ways to rack up the numbers as the summer wears on. For example, the female students all live in a giant dormitory room where they cavort in tiny underwear, smoke weed constantly, and fiddle with vibrators. Brad decides to infiltrate this nest of vagina by dressing in mall-brat drag and pretending he's a new student, Bradine. He moves into the girls' dorm and starts hunting for half-blind bi-curious co-eds to seduce, eventually ending up taking a bath with a near-sighted cutie who mistakes his penis for a rubber duck. It's pretty creepy.

Eatmore takes an aerobics class. Rection stuffs his pants with Kleenex. Hardman takes French lessons with Mona, but garbles her commands and jumps into the shower with her, causing her to chase him, naked, out of the house.

So that all goes on. And then there's a late-night beach party, for really no reason at all.

Later on, Hardman meets a top-heavy redhead named Claudia (Stephanie Sulik) and gives her tennis lessons. And by lessons, I mean he fucks her in the dirt. Turns out she's the principal's wife, so that gets sticky. Rection invents some formula that makes swimsuits melt. Obviously, he tries this out during the girls' swim class. Lovett glues on a Fu Manchu mustache, adopts a Chinese restaurant waiter accent, and gives Mona Lott a massage. She freaks. Then the fat kid tries his hand at Lott-seduction by crawling around in the air vents above the girls' locker room and spying on her as she undresses. Does he come crashing down from the ceiling in a rain of dust and plaster? Yes.

Afterwards, the guys go to a bar and watch a wet t-shirt contest, followed by a 'best ass' contest, followed by a whipped cream bikini contest. That takes up a good chunk of time. Then, of course, they get expelled, which brings us to the expected revenge-driven climax. Hint: it involves Marijuana and hidden camera footage. Don't they all?

I know, this all sounds more like a series of Benny Hill-esque skits than the plot of an actual film. It also plays a lot like a slasher movie, with Lott as the perpetual victim, getting stalked by not one but four very bungling would-be lady killers. Funny? Not really. Amusing? Tits everywhere, so sure. In fact, Loose Screws is extremely generous in it's toplessness, practically wall-to-wall in it's heaving pulchritude, and so blunt-force simple-minded that it practically defies criticism. Only a drooling subhuman could call Loose Screws a 'classic', but I will give it this: it is relentless in it's quest to provoke laughs and boners. And while it fails miserably in one, it scores quite highly in the other.

And yes, at the end, you finally get to see Lott's Frenchy floppers. And even though they're bathed in an eye-wrenching red glow, they still look pretty spectacular.

After Screws: Everybody's fine. They're Canadians, they're probably eating bacon.

Availability: Loose Screws is available on DVD.

-Ken McIntyre

1 comment:

  1. You forgot the Chinese guy- Hung Low!

    I'd like to get an mp3 of the movie's chirpy, hi-energy theme song ("Loose screws! Breakin' away!"). Sadly, the only song I've come across is "Circular Impression" by The Extras ("I gotta rubber in my wallet" etc.)


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