Monday, January 11, 2010

SCREWBALLS (Blu-Ray)

One of the first teen T&A comedies to hit Eighties drive-in screens in the wake of the phenomenal success of PORKYS (and inspiring a slew of imitators itself, most with the word "balls" in the title), 1983’s nigh-legendary SCREWBALLS recently made its overdue digital debut on DVD and Blu-Ray disc, courtesy of Severin Films.

The story, such as it is, is this: In detention for various lewd acts of indecency, five sex-obsessed teenage boys at Taft & Adams High School challenge each other to get a glimpse of the breasts of T&A High’s resident virgin tease, Purity Busch (Linda Speciale) before Homecoming. That’s it.

The lightweight – or, more accurately, weightless – storyline by Linda Shayne (who also plays the frequently topless "Bootsie Goodhead" in the movie) and Jim Wynorski (CHOPPING MALL, VAMPIRELLA) exists pretty much only to string together a series of low-brow, juvenile sight gags, groan-inducing innuendos, crude jokes and gratuitious amounts of female nudity. As the film’s aspirations are not very high in the first place, it’s more than adequate, and, admittedly, really pretty damned funny.

Overall, SCREWBALLS is fast-paced, enjoyably mindless entertainment, competently acted, and features some stand-out set pieces, most notably the infamous "strip bowling" sequence and the utterly satisfying final scene. While it’ll never be considered high cinematic art, it’s ultimately successful as what it intends to be – goofy, unabashed, exploitative fun.

Co-financed by B-movie mogul Roger Corman, this Canadian "tax shelter" production was directed by Rafal Zielinski, who went on to make many more movies in the genre. Although the movie was a popular VHS rental title and cable television perennial, convoluted rights issues delayed it from going digital until Severin Films stepped up and took on the project.

Severin gives SCREWBALLS the high quality treatment it deserves, with an excellent, 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer at 1080p resolution, sourced from a clean 16mm print. Considering the film’s age and low-budget production, it looks surprisingly good.

Director Zielinski provides an entertaining commentary track with star Kent Deuters, and both men are then featured in separate video interviews. Writers Shayne and Wynorski also appear in a video interview and reminisce about the making of the film, recounting not only the challenges of writing it, but of working with Corman. There’s a funny featurette with celebrity nudity expert "Mr. Skin," who goes into great, enthusiastic detail over the historical importance of SCREWBALLS to the 80’s T&A genre, and another with Paul Corupe of Canuxploitation.com, who explains how SCREWBALLS (and other sleazy exploitation films of the early 80s) were – thanks to certain tax laws - actually able to secure financing directly from the Canadian government! Also included is the film’s extremely raunchy trailer and several deleted scenes culled from a Spanish videotape.

For fans of Eighties teen sex comedies, SCREWBALLS on Blu-Ray is highly recommended.

BUY: Screwballs [Blu-ray]