Screwballs (1983)
By: Mr Intolerance on December 1, 2009  | 
Severin (USA). All Regions, NTSC. 1.66:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0 Mono. 80 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Rafal Zielinski
Starring: Peter Keleghan, Kent Deuters, Linda Speciale, Alan Deveau, Jason Warren
Screenplay: Linda Shayne, Jim Wynorski
Country: Canada
External Links
Purchase IMDB YouTube
A brief plot synopsis of Screw Balls: a bunch of misfit teenage boys from T&A High School make a pact to try to see who can get to second base first with a stuck up frigid bimbo, and the audience get to see a lot of boobs and hear and see a lot of very bad double entendre and crap jokes along the way. Brief review: it's boss!

Gotta love the 80s teen sex-comedy. It's a genre that strangely enough doesn't translate well to other decades. Oh sure, you can throw names like American Pie, Road Trip and the like at me, but they simply don't have the same sleazy and wildly entertaining totally un-PC oomph that films like Meatballs, National Lampoon's Animal House, King Frat, Porky's, Joy Sticks, Fast Times At Ridgemont High – even Zapped! or Weird Science, for crying out loud, let alone this lewd and crude masterstroke – had. Maybe you had to grow up with these films to really understand the difference, but the unabashed excesses of films like Screw Balls leave their more modern contemporaries gasping in their wake.

For me, part of it was growing up as a teenage boy in the 80s. These films, back in the day, were the ones you and your buddies would seem to play on an almost constant loop, when you weren't watching The Evil Dead or any of the various Halloween/Friday the 13th/A Nightmare On Elm Street rip-offs and sequels. Why? The answer's pretty simple, dude: you were guaranteed boobs, and dick and fart jokes – a winning combination for a teenage boy. If you're a fella, and you can honestly say you never watched a film like Screw Balls and laughed your damn fool head off, you probably spent too much time watching John Hughes films with your girlfriend. Low-brow? Of course they were, and that was the point. Look, when the opening scene to a film is two girls being prodded in the vag and arse respectively with a giant hot-dog to panting noises and bad jokes about cocks, you know that you have entered The Zone.

Let me explain The Zone: it's the special place in the back of your reptile mind where The Beast lurks. Let me explain The Beast: it's the lowest common denominator part of your brain, the pure caveman instinct, the part of you where your un-PC self, your real self, really, hides out. Oh, sure, you can deny The Beast (and you probably have when you've been trying to impress one of the more cloven of the species in a feeble effort to get laid – when you lie your arse off saying that you like "serious", or more dangerously, "arthouse" films), you can try to placate It in all kinds of ways, but every so often It needs to come out and revel in what it was like to be a horny teenager who thought dead baby jokes were the acme of humour, and that a movie's greatness was totally dependent on how many racks you got to see. Movies like Screw Balls make The Beast a very happy camper indeed.

Our crew of horny young ne'er-do-wells include Melvin Jerkovski, a serial masturbator (a great line directed at him from another character: "You jerk off so much that even if you did get laid, you'd probably call out your own name!"), Rick and Brent, a couple of would-be classy Romeos (one of whom apparently packs a big cock – the other of which carries a tennis racket about and wears a cravat – we get it, he's rich, he arrived at school in a Rolls, can we now move on?), the archetypal friction-tape around the glasses nerd Howie (who tries to use science and hypnotism to lure chicks to him), and new student Tim, who's just transferred in from the Mid-West (I think he's meant to be the point of audience sympathy, kind of like Pinto in Animal House). They all get five days worth of detention ("This detention is fucked!") for various misdemeanours and felonies – Rick posing as a doctor in a breast exam for female Freshmen being the most valiant effort, although props must be given to Howie who uses the security mirrors in the hallways to look up cheerleaders' skirts – and decide, after being baited by up-tight Principal Stuckoff, to see who can get under the sweater of the won't-give-it-up Homecoming Queen Purity Busch (snigger), who has been directly responsible for each of these fine upstanding pillars of the community having to do time. The lengths these boys go to in order to do so leads me to believe that if they were putting the same effort into curing cancer, we could all smoke three packs a day with the firm belief that we could all be saved in a heartbeat, Jerkovski's buried-in-the-sand with a special visor plan makes me more than usually certain of this. Talk about optimism...

Purity is a right cunt, and spends much screen time proving that point. What initially begins as lust on the part of our boys (and she is a rather saucy piece of arse) – they all want to tag her, and badly – ends up as vendetta. She has fucked them over and continues to do so, and the fellas want revenge. Think about the times in your life when you've been blown off (and not in the good way) by a chick – what did you want to happen to her? Usually to have her die in a fire – but here we can take comfort in the fact that public humiliation is only 79 minutes away, and you will indeed like it. Actually, if you're the shallow male of the species, you'll absolutely love it, even if the film does come to an absolute dead halt almost the second our boys get their revenge. Formulaic? Sure it is, but who cares? All of these films move inexorably towards the big rock finish – the audience wants it and it normally gets the biggest laffs and provides the most satisfying pay-off. Remember the prom in Fast Times At Ridgemont High? Delta House's revenge on Dean Wormer at the Home Coming parade in Animal House?

Hey, but don't think that you aren't getting a whole mess of awesome set pieces leading up to that. Screw Balls has some of the most outRAGEous scenes you'll see in a sex-comedy. Without giving too much away, and really just to get a nostalgic smile from the initiated, you'll see crazy hi-jinks at a drive in (when underwear starts liberally flying all over the place after Tim's been invited to play "hide the salami" by Bootsie Goodhead (scriptwriter Linda Shayne, ably proving she wasn't going to expect anyone to do things she wasn't going to do herself), a kid turns to his mom and asks, "Is this movie 3-D?" Nice), neat-o single entendre references to 50s TV (nympho wife to communist-hating husband, "Ward, I'm a little worried about the beaver"), a memorable trip to a sex shop, an impromptu Spanish Fly party, horny female teachers trying to fuck their students, transvestite attempts to get to see girls with their tops off in a dress-making class, hypnotism used as a way to see boobs, some of the most arcane bordering on Byzantine plans including electro-magnetism to – you guessed it – see some titty-skin, and my favourite moment of all, the game of strip 10 Pin Bowling. Matter of fact, the initial scenes of our boys and what gets them put on detention are worth the price of admission alone – plus like I mentioned before, their solo and joint efforts to see Purity's boobs; worthy of a 21-gun salute. It did make me wonder if I did the same kinda things trying to see boobs when I was in high school. What a stupid, stupid question.

And can I just add, there's also a moment of wonderfulness in a strip club when my favourite Russ Meyer girl, the drop-dead gorgeous Raven De La Croix (AKA Margo Winchester, from Meyer's masterpiece Up!) gets to be seen with her two best assets out in full view. Is there nothing she can't do? No one woman deserves to be that beautiful. Maybe a gang of twenty good-looking women all together can look that insanely hot. But just one? Man, this film just keeps on giving.

Just a few more things before I go: it probably won't come as any surprise to you that behind scriptwriters Linda Shayne and Jim Wynorski was exploitation god-among-mortal-men Roger Corman (is there any pie this guy does not have his finger in?!). Porky's had recently been completed and word from the test screenings was that it was looking like being a smash, and Corman apparently wanted some of that coin for himself, and so he funded half of the film (get a load of this – the Canadian government also helped to fund the film! If you thought their decision to help fund Cronenberg's Shivers was difficult to defend – think about what's in this film! The Canadian government helped me to see a guy get his dick stuck in a bowling ball and a chick fantasise about fucking her over-sized teddy bear – priceless) – if you hadn't already given thanks at the altar of Roger, it's time to do so right now.

Another thing that's worthy of note is the production design of the film, which at times seems quite firmly ensconced in the fifties, but with weirdly anachronistic moments (watching a 70s Pam Grier blaxploitation film at the drive-in, for example – The Arena, in case you were wondering – probably so that Corman didn't have to pay for any movie rights) that are equal parts 60s, 70s and 80s. At one point of the interview with the scriptwriters in the special features, they state that the film is indeed a teen sex comedy, but also a satire on teen sex comedies. Given the riotously over the top nature of Screw Balls I can maybe buy that, but it did seem a little bit like historical revisionism to me. That said, the fifties vibe makes a little more sense – Animal House, Mischief and Porky's made good use of a more historical setting, after all. I guess the faux-50s look is kind of equally matched by the faux-50s soundtrack; almost, but not quite, fellas.

And was there a sequel, and was it even more crude? Oh yes, and I hope that Severin may one day decide to release Screw Balls 2: Loose Screws – I reckon they'll find there's definitely an audience for it.
The image is a bit soft, I have to say. Severin have valiantly done their very best with Screw Balls, but re-mastering the film from a 16mm print has worked against them. Sometimes it's like watching a film shot through cheesecloth, with a muted colour palette. Mind you, it was a low budget film shot 26 years ago – what do you expect?
Again, the audio is a bit lack-lustre, flat and rather lifeless, but it's the best you're likely to get, and admittedly it's adequate to the task at hand. Given the film I'm talking about, I might be being a little bit too harsh.
Extra Features
Yet again, Severin have released a package of goodness. Get a load of this for a one disc value release: there's a feature-length commentary by the director, a whole mess of cast and crew interviews (director Rafal Zielinski, writers Linda Shayne and Jim Wynorski, star Kent Deuters, SPFX artist Gerald Lukaniuk), an interview with Paul Corupe, an expert on Canadian exploitation films (I'd never heard of Canuxploitation before), deleted scenes from the Spanish video release of the film (some of which are quite amusing and should be watched, some not-so-much – the editing to the final scene is disappointing to say the least), a theatrical trailer, and a short featurette, Mr Skin Talks Sex Comedies of the '80s, which features Mr Skin and McBeardo, two fellas who definitely know their stuff – experts on 80s sex comedies – giving their opinions on the genre and the place of Screw Balls in that genre (they consider it to be the most outrageous one, and certainly the craziest), plus they give you a top ten list of nude scenes from some of these films that if nothing else leads me to understand that there's a whole bunch of these flicks I need to catch up on. Who wouldn't want to see a film that features a topless skydiver landing in a pool with a grizzly bear in it?
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Watching Screw Balls to me is kind of like the video equivalent to stumbling home blind drunk from a strip club at three in the morning, slurping down a greasy pizza topped with an artery-clogging amount of cheese, meat and chilli, swilling cheap domestic beer and dancing around your living room singing along loudly and tunelessly to the sounds of Grand Funk or Bachman-Turner Overdrive while playing air guitar. It's a uniquely male experience and one that's immediately satisfying in a way that's impossible to explain to those who have not embraced their inner Beast. I truly wish films of this calibre were still being made. Send your girlfriend out to hang out with her faux-sophisto friends, snigger like Beavis and Butthead, drink yourself silly, eat food that's bad for you and watch it now. It will make you into a better person. Your Beast will thank you.

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