Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Rush Week (1989)

Directed by:
Bob Bralver

Raunchy comedies set on college campuses were very popular in the 80s (and still are). So were slasher movies (ditto). RUSH WEEK combines the two and the results are, surprisingly enough, not too bad. Ambitious journalism major Toni Daniels (Pamela Ludwig), a new transfer to Tambers College, immediately joins the school paper and is given her first assignment; covering Rush Week activities. Toni's actually more interested in stories with some meat to them, such as what happened to Julie Ann McGuffin (Kathleen Kinmont), a law student just reported missing by a concerned roommate. While covering her assigned story, Toni bumps into hunky b.m.o.c. Jeffrey Jacobs (Dean Hamilton), begins seeing him and finds out his former girlfriend, who was also the daughter of school dean Russel Grail (Roy Thinnes), was viciously murdered the previous year. All of the new victims (killed by a cloaked, masked figure brandishing a medieval axe) have been secretly posing nude for fat, bald, bearded cafeteria worker Arnold Krangen (John Donovan), who pays the ladies off with marked hundred dollar bills.

Unlike many of its slasherkin, there's something of a plot here and, while a bit routine at times, the storyline, plot twists and roster of multiple suspects are handled with competence by both the director and writers. Ludwig gives an appealing performance, which is pretty important to the film's success since it revolves mostly around her character. The fact she also enlists the aid of fellow college chums in medical and computer studies was also a clever touch. However, I doubt someone as bright as she appears to be would put herself in the situation she does at the finale. Production values are mostly fine and a good number of the supporting actresses provide the requisite T&A. One thing that's noticably missing is gore, and that's not going to set too well with some viewers. In fact, you have to wait over an hour to get any blood at all (the first three kills are all off-screen). Even then, there's just a quickie axe-to-the-chest and a decapitation.

As with nearly every post-ANIMAL HOUSE film set on a college campus, the humor is pretty crude (parties! mooning! grave robbing!) and a decent amount of time is dedicated to showcasing it. Jeffrey's frat house, where all the cool, fun-loving guys hang, is in some kind of rivalry with another frat house full of stuffy, rich, uptight preps. During one scene, Jeff and a few of his brothers crash a classy reception at their snobby rivals' home and substitute a gay cowboy porno for their initiation video. Other comic gems involve sneaking an actual human finger into a guy's french fries (guess someone just saw THE HITCHER) and tricking a prostitute into screwing a corpse! Rush Week at this particular school also culminates in an annual "fright night" costume party. They even get The Dickies to show up and perform two songs. Their entertaining show involves the lead singer popping out of a coffin dressed like a vampire and the lead guitarist wielding a hilariously huge chainsaw-guitar.
Gregg Allman of all people shows up as Toni's student advisor/boss. He's a hippie named Cosmo and one of his two briefs scenes has him meditating in a room with a topless woman. Arthur Roberts (who plays the alien guy in the 1988 remake of NOT OF THIS EARTH) makes an even briefer (uncredited) appearance as a future college student's father. The cast also includes Todd Eric Andrews (star of ZAPPED AGAIN!, another campus comedy), Laura Burkett (the girl featured in the BLOOD BEACH ad art) and Dominick Brascia (director of EVIL LAUGH and others).



spookyx3 said...

pros: lead role for the lovely & talented pamela ludwig. has a little more going on than a straight-up slasher. cons: too much frat hijinx / filler. r-e-a-l easy to guess the killer -- pretty much the only genuine surprise in this film was when the dickies showed up at the party.

the group lip-syncs to "booby trap" & "monster island", both on that year's SECOND COMING album ("trap" was recycled from the KILLER KLOWNS ep!). at this time they were signed to enigma who appears to have provided most of the music in the film. i noticed devo's godawful "baby doll", used in the cafetria, and amusing placement of dead milkmen's "instant club hit (you'll dance to anything)".

i haven't sent many comments lately. will try to fix that.

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

I haven't done many reviews recently so we are even! I'm just starting back up after another long break.

spookyx3 said...

good to see you! my viewings were way down until a couple of months ago. couldn't get started; nothing was working. i feel really stupid saying that the turning point happened to be FRIGHT NIGHT II, but i'm back in the saddle again.

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

I've been so mentally distracted recently I've had a hard time finishing a movie let alone writing one up. Kind of half-watched Turkey Shoot, Humongous and some others but I'll eventually force myself back into the swing of things here. FNII is another I need to re-watch!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...