Saturday, January 24, 2009

Spring Fever USA (1989)

AKA Lauderdale
Directed by Bill Milling
Starring Janine Lindemulder, Darrel Guilbeau, Michelle Kemp, Ron Jeremy
Rated R

"Bambi, you're so beautiful. I can understand why some men kill for love."
"Wilson, you're so weird. I can understand why some animals eat their young."

One of the teen sex comedy's long-lost gems, this frivolous little film was written and directed by an ex porn producer, Bill Milling (Ecstasy in Blue, Blonde Velvet, both 1976), and starred a future porn star, Janine Lindermulder, during her brief B-movie stage. Considered by some to be a satire of the genre, and to others a hopeless and helpless victim of the genre's excesses, Spring Fever USA is both brilliant and brainless, a zippy, lighter-than-air romp that fairly throbs with cartoonish exuberance and takes care to fill every single frame with at least one bouncy blonde, more if they can fit. Littered with porn regulars (Ron Jeremy) and local weirdos (Beano), it's a witty bit of sexploitation that takes full advantage of Florida's natural boner-popping powers.

The story involves a spindly young man with a terrible haircut named Larry Wilson (Darrel Guilbeau), an unlikely Lothario and best friend to a loud, fat maniac named Animal (Screwball Hotel's own Jeff Greenman). We first meet these two goons on the beach, where they moon over bikini-clad hardbodies, which causes Animal to shove wet sand into his mouth.

"They're everywhere," he barks."Mindless hordes of bitchin' bimbos from beyond infinity bent on possessing my mind, with their hot little hands emitting cosmic rays into my mind!"
Like I said, he's a maniac.

Later on at school, they run into a breathless teenage beauty named Heather (Janine Lindemulder). Although she towers over Larry and would clearly never give this kid a second glance in any sort of world besides the one that apparently existed in this fantastical late 80's Floridian Neverland, Larry's aggressive pick-up lines appear to charm her enough to keep Heather talking. And then, from out of nowhere, two Mutt and Jeff goofballs in Hawaiian shirts attempt to abduct her, but they are summarily thwarted by Larry and Animal, who sucker punch them and bolt, dragging Heather with them. Animal hitches a ride on a Sccoby Doo-esque mystery van, and Larry takes off with Heather, who happens to have a gleaming white Excalibur waiting for her behind a clump of palm trees. By the way, although they look pretty fancy, you can buy one of those things for like $30,000.

Heather is appreciative of Larry's rescue efforts, and offers to take him out to dinner.
"You're a very unique and special guy," she says, apparently unaware that both words mean the same thing. Skipping dinner completely, the two go straight to Heather's hotel room. She slips into a bubble bath and tells Larry to order Dom Perignon, the only alcohol that she drinks. It gets her very, very loose, apparently.

Larry calls for room service, but they're out of the stuff. Heather sends him to a liquor store across the street, where he runs into the shop's crazyfro'd owner (the singularly named Beano, seriously going for it), who looks and sounds like some unholy cross between a gone-to-seed Gene Simmons and a mid-bender Sam Kinison.

Liquor store guy extorts several hundred dollars from our shlubby pal as they barter for the last bottle of Dom Perignon, but then Ron Jeremy, with pantyhose on his head, robs them both at gunpoint, fucking it up for everybody. Miraculously, Larry pulls off a swift chopsocky move, knocking Jeremy out. Crazyfro rewards him with the bottle.
"Thanks kid," he says. "Now I'm gonna take this grenade, shove it up his ass, and blow him up."

Various foul-ups happen to Larry along the way back to the hotel. A homeless guy (David Donham, My Chauffer, American Drive In) spooks him, causing him to smash the bottle. Luckily, the wino's been holding a bottle of the "Frog shit" for days, looking for a corkscrew. Larry buys it from him, but then a biker yanks it out of his hand and vrooms off into the night. Etc.

He finally makes it back to the room to find that Heather had a bottle all along, and is now sufficiently lubricated. They roll around on the bed for a bit, but before Larry can consummate this arduous amorous adventure, the two loud-shirted knuckleheads from earlier this afternoon barge in, abducting their prey and conking Larry on the head.

He wakes up in a luxury apartment, where yet another blow-dried blonde (Lara Belmonte) aerobicizes suggestively. She finally notices him and explains that she's Rachel, 'good friend' of Heather's, who went to see her at the hotel last night, but found the room ransacked and her friend missing. Rachel tells Larry that she had her 'chauffer' drive them both home.
"It's ok, Heather got away," Larry says. "At least I think she did. I had a bunch of champagne last night, and then I got hit in the head, so my brain is kinda fuzzy."
"Well," Rachel says, running her fingers through his hair, "If you could tell me anything at all about what happened, I'd be very grateful."
"It's starting to come back to me," Larry says, glancing down at his crotch.
"Maybe a relaxing hot tub with firm up that memory," Rachel purrs.
"Oh, I think it's firming up already," says Larry.
Seriously, how is this skinny fucker pulling all this off?

Turns out that Rachel is working for vaguely evil Mr. Geeko (Randy Stevens), who really wants Heather back, for whatever reason. Larry is less help than she'd like, so she has the two idiots, now identified as brothers Dick and Duke Dork (Robert Moss and Mark Levine, respectively), give Larry some 'drowning lessons' in the hot tub. Luckily, he's saved by yet another bottle-blonde in a flashy car.

I should point out here that it is quite difficult to keep all these women straight, because they all look pretty much the same. This isn't really the film's fault, though. Most women looked like these girls in 1989. Perms, peroxide, tanning booths and aerobics classes were all very, very big in the late 80's. Anyway, this one is Jane (the very Linnea-esque Michelle Kemp), who works for Heather's dad. Seems she's the daughter of one of the world's richest men, and on her 18th birthday - just one week away! - she'll inherit one million shares of his company. I didn't really understand the whole convoluted story, but Mr. Geeko gets the company if she doesn't show up at some corporate meeting in seven days. So that's why Geeko wants her lost and dad wants her found. Jesus, it took 45 minutes to get to the actual plot. And so, off zooms Jane and Larry to find Heather before the Dorks do.

Of course, the Dorks snatch Heather almost immediately. She was pretty easy to find, considering that foolish car she was tooling around in. Meanwhile, Larry and Jane rent an RV and tour various surf shops (Heather mentioned she wanted to find "The Big Kahuna"), and then stop at a lingerie shop where two more wind-blown almost-blondes (Sherrie Rose and Kimberly O'Brien) model sleazy under-things for them for ten minutes. And then, because it's 1989 (also because it's part of the plot somehow; frankly, this whole scene distracted me), Jane pours into a teddy and garters, too.

Oh, right. It's so she can seduce the Dorks. The plan works, and they rescue Heather, but she cares nothing for her father's company or that Geeko fuckface, she just wants to party, dude. Ron Jeremy shows up on a motorcycle, and they take off to Lauderdale.

Finally, fuckin' Fort Lauderdale. Cue the Beasties rip-off rap-rock tune (blame 'Jeff Mills and Asrock' for that one) and a spring-break montage featuring a seemingly endless array of bared breasts, plus a dude with a mullet and a mustache disco dancing, and a one-armed black dwarf.

Larry and Jane find Heather oil-wrestling at a nightclub while a Night Ranger-ish band called Fury, with a lead singer who looks like Carrot Top, blares away on stage. I'll give it to the girls: they seriously wail on each other.

Heather escapes Larry's clutches (pretty easy to do, she was probably quite slippery, given the Wesson oil) and ends up at another club, this time singing with yet another ear-battering band, The Rebel Pebbles. The song, some sort of new wave/surf hybrid, goes, in part, "Nights filled with passion, night-time assassin/Fantasies unleashed, you're finally with me". One dude plays the keytar. It's a pretty awful song.

Then there's a belly-flop competition, followed quickly by a wet t-shirt contest. Look closely, and you might also spot a young Amy Lynn Baxter during an extended bikini car wash scene. By this point in the film, it becomes pretty obvious that director Milling is determined to suck every bit of pulp out of the already-occurring Lauderdale spring break for his movie. If you were there in 1988, then I suggest you hunt this down, as it will serve as a fine home movie of your experience.

Spring Fever USA roars to a climax with a boat chase, guns, the ol' switcheroo, and a typically improbable happy ending where everybody ends up with bright futures and compatible sexual partners, even fat loudnouths and future sex stars. Such endings are usually pretty tough to swallow, but after 90 minutes of bikini car washes and belly flop kings, you start to believe that just about anything is possible, as long as it's happening under a blazing Florida sun.

Director Bill Milling has had one of the most amazing exploitation film careers imaginable, having done everything from acting to directing to special effects on films like Squirm (1976), Nightmares in a Damaged Brain (1980) Savage Dawn (1985) and Caged Fury (1989). These days, he owns a successful film studio in New York City, but probably misses topless shoots in Florida every once in awhile. Janine Lindermulder of course became a semi-mainstream porn star with two full-sleeves of tattoos. Non masturbators would probably recognize her best as the porno-nurse on the cover of that one Blink 182 album. Darrel Guilbeau has carved out a lucrative career doing voice-over work for anime. Michelle Kemp never acted again, nor did Beano. Ron Jeremy is as fat as ever. Many thousands of college kids still go to Fort Lauderdale every spring break to drink themselves into comas and judge girls on their ability to wet down their t-shirts.

Availability: Spring Fever USA is semi-available on DVD and slightly more available on VHSunder its original title, Lauderdale. I encourage you to seek out one or the other and dream big 80's dreams.

-Ken McIntyre

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