Saturday, February 21, 2009

Screwballs (1983)

Directed by Rafal Zielinksi
Starring Alan Deveau, Linda Speciale, Peter Keleghan
Rated R

"Don't look now, but I think Paul is masturbating!"
"Well, make him stop."
"I can't. He's using my hand."

I didn't know, going in to this project, that I'd spend this much time with Canadians, never mind Canucks with screwy names like Rafal. Honestly, this Mr. Zielinski is personally responsible for so many teenage hijinks that they ought to name a high school after him. Screwballs, however, may just be his masterpiece. Written by insanely prolific cheese-dealer Jim Wynorski (Chopping Mall, Big Bad Mama II) and produced, on the cheap, for Roger Corman, Screwballs is one the greatest T&A movies ever made, a no-budget Porky's rip-off that throws every teensploitation cliché imaginable into the mix in an artless hodgepodge of boozing, pranks, and bouncing boobs.

It helps to know that Screwballs is supposed to take place in the 60's. Of course, Zielinski had no budget, so besides a couple loaned-for-the-afternoon shots of vintage cars, he relies mostly on Brylcreem and scarves to pull off the illusion. It doesn't really work, and, despite its premise, Screwballs screams 1983 just as loudly as Joysticks does. You'd think this would be a detriment to the film, but it's really not. In fact, it just adds a weird, costume-party-gone-wrong vibe to the already loony proceedings.

The film opens with two girls putting up a sign (for a 69 cent special, of course) in front of a restaurant while a giant hot dog hits them in the ass and a cardboard chef laughs maniacally. Then we see a bunch of kids riding twelve at a time in 50's-era convertibles to Taft & Adams high school. I've never seen kids so fuckin' psyched to be going to class. Zielinski's go-to creep Alan Deveau (Loose Screws, Recruits) runs a blow-up fuck doll up the flagpole before the opening credits even finish rolling, which must be some kind of record.

It takes quite some time before anything even resembling a plot comes into focus. The first half-hour or so of Screwballs is dedicated to your typical teen-sex-com gags, but what makes these groaners remarkable is that Zielinski repeated several of 'em almost verbatim - with some of the same actors, even - in Loose Screws, two years later. These include the wise-ass kid pretending to be a doctor ("Dr. Pepper", naturally) to give girls breast exams, and the sexy, hot-to-trot French teacher turned on by her own tongue-rolling.

Throw in evil, bosomy cheerleaders (with "T&A" emblazoned on their cheer-blouses) tormenting Melvin Jerkoffski, the school's resident fat buffoon/ice cream salesman ("Thanks, Melvin. I would've gone crazy if I didn't get something in my mouth.") and a bunch of stuff you hardly believe you're even seeing - one kid, who wears tape on his glasses, actually slips on a banana peel and lands face-first into a plate of mashed potatoes - and you've got the perfect recipe for a braincell-frying evening.

Eventually, five of the school's biggest, erm, screwballs end up in detention together. There's Howie (Deveau), busted for hiding under a flight of stairs to catch some upskirt action, Jerkoffski (Jason Warren, Loose Screws), caught masturbating (imagine that!) in the freezer, Tim (Jim Coburn), the new transfer student from Idaho, busted for accidentally wandering into the girl's locker room, Brent (Kent Deuters), the popped-collar golden boy, nabbed for forcing a girl to fellate the Eiffel tower in French class, and Rick (Peter Keleghan) who...well, he's Dr. Pepper. Over an afternoon of frog-sorting (as punishment, they have to separate the male and female frogs in biology class), they make a pact: by homecoming, one of them has to see Purity Bush (scrumptious Linda Speciale), T&A High's last virgin, in the nude. Or at least topless. Let the mayhem begin.

Purity is a strange character, a vain and manipulating girl who acts the goggle-eyed innocent in front of authority figures, but who also humps her life-sized teddy bear at night, and mercilessly teases any cock pointed in her direction. She's actually pretty despicable, but with her gravity-defying rack and adorable button-nose, your average high school boy really doesn't have a chance.'

New guy Tim tries first, and takes the direct route, creeping into Purity's bedroom window during the dead of night. Unfortunately he crawls into the wrong bed and ends up making out with Purity's always-horny mom June (Heather Smith, Pink Chaquitas) before dad shows up, wielding a shotgun.

Weirdo Howie attempts wooing her using hypnosis, ropes, and the giant inflatable hot dog from the opening scene, but it backfires on him and the girl's swim team, pretending to be under his mind-control, chase him down and beat him. He does get the last laugh, however: when they chase him all the way to the end of the swimming pool's diving board, he manages to snatch a couple bikini tops on his way down.

By the way, that's one of Screwballs' greatest strengths - Zielinksi lets no potential boner go unpopped. Every single scene has something titillating going on. I mean, what high school would issue skimpy blue bikinis as a standard swimming class uniform? I know Canada's always been more liberal than the US, but that shit is almost Scandinavian. Also, all the supposedly stuffy teachers, from the tightly-wound librarian (Carolyn Tweedle, Oddballs, Loose Screws, Recruits) to the sly-eyed biology teacher Sarah Bellum (Jan Taylor, Meatballs III), are all hot 20-somethings in disguise, like the before-girls in heavy metal videos. And, in Miss Bellum's case, like the after-girls, as well.

Anyway, the fellas go the drive-in (the marquee promises Italian chicks in chains flick The Big Bust Out and "Wild Women of Wango", but the film playing appears to be '74 Pam Grier warrior-girl flick The Arena). Tim, clearly over this Purity bullshit, makes time with the awesomely named Bootsie Goodhead (Linda Shayne, Humanoids from the Deep, Graduation Day), who suggests they play 'Hide the salami'. He agrees, but halfway through, notices Brent in the next car over sipping champagne with Tim's younger sister. Furious, he confronts Brent in his boxers. Meanwhile, poor Bootsie's skirt is caught in the car door, leaving her stuck with her tits splayed across the window. So, that's fun.

Jerkoffski has a cockamamie plan to bury himself in the sand at the beach in the spot where Purity sunbathes everyday. The idea is use a straw in an empty coke can as a sort of periscope to peep her heaving mams as she soaks up the rays. He gets close, but then she flicks away the straw, nearly killing him.

Brent doses the punch with Spanish Fly during a classroom party (to celebrate the school's new airplane repair shop?), but everyone but Purity gulps it down, resulting in a student/teacher sex orgy involving everyone except for Purity and Brent. By the way, although he is never seen actually playing, Brent carries his tennis racket for the entire movie. He never even makes reference to it, he just carries it around. What a screwball.

And then, out of nowhere...strip bowling! The jiggling is pretty incredible in this. Howie gets his dick caught in one of the balls, so the girls lick his face until he cums so hard the ball flies off and he scores a strike. Clearly, a Hall of Fame scene. Even better, it has nothing to do with the plot and doesn't move the story along at all. Zielinski and/or Wynorski just thought it would be awesome to have girls bowl in their bra and panties. And they were so fuckin' right.

Rick is the last member of the Detention Club to take a crack at Purity. He dresses up in drag and pretends to be a substitute sewing class teacher. Of course, he'll have to take the girls' measurements, so they'll need to take their tops off. Like the rest of the idiots, he is thwarted at the last moment. Explosions and wheelchairs are involved.

Later that night, the boys head off a strip club to nurse their bruised egos. Amazingly, Russ Meyer girl Raven De La Croix (Up!) is performing. Even better, Principal Stuckoff (Donnie Bowes, Oddballs) is at the club, as well. He dances with a topless Raven and the boys snap a picture, effectively ending any chance of getting a detention ever again. They continue their reverie over breakfast at the local diner. When Howie tells his waitress, Rhonda Rockett (Terrea Smith, Flesh Gordon Meets the Cosmic Cheerleaders) that he didn't order any sausage, she tells him "No problem," plucks it off his plate, and deepthroats it. For no reason. Just because. A fantastic evening by anyone's standards but alas, still no Purity boob sightings.

Will homecoming come and go with nary a peek at those ripe beauties?

Oh no, you get to see 'em. In fact, they're splattered all over the end credits. I'm not going to show them to you - you'll have to hunt Screwballs down yourself - but I will tell you this: they're real, and they're spectacular.

One of the all-time great teen sex coms, up there with immortals like The Cheerleaders, H.O.T.S., and Hardbodies, Screwballs is a non-stop boner fest. It may be the greatest thing a Canadian has ever done. Well, this and that time Thor bent a steel bar in his teeth. Certainly, it's in that arena.

More Screws, More Balls
Rafal repeated himself shamelessly with Loose Screws (1985) and made a fistful of teen romps before ditching the genre for horror (Hangman's Curse, 2005) and gritty indie drama (Age of Kali, 2007). Doesn't matter though, he could've quit the business in 1984 and he'd still be a King of Sex for his amazing work here. We wish him a long and fruitful life/career and anxiously await Screwballs III. As for the cast, they were all in every other Canadian teen-com of the 80's. At this point, I imagine they are watching hockey, drinking beer, and visiting the doctor for free.

As for the gorgeous Speciale, she did very little acting after this. Great news, though: she recently made an appearance as the 'sexy neighbor' (naturally) in an episode of the consistently balls-out TV drug-drama Breaking Bad. Let's hope it's only the first leg on her comeback trail.

Availability: Screwballs is available on VHS, and is fairly screaming for a DVD release.

-Ken McIntyre

1 comment:

  1. I was always under the impression that SCREWBALL HOTEL was the 3rd installment. Also, you have to cover HOT RESORT. Great work!


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