Loose Screws: Screwballs II (1985)
By: Mr Intolerance on October 9, 2010  | 
DVD
Severin | All Regions, NTSC | 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English DD 2.0 | 76 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Rafal Zielinski
Starring: Bryan Genesse, Lance Van Der Kolk, Alan Deveau, Jason Warren, Mike MacDonald, Cyd Belliveau
Screenplay: Michael Cory
Country: Canada
External Links
IMDB Purchase YouTube
After teen sex comedy classic Screwballs hit big and proved beyond a doubt that movies like Porky's were not just a one-off, and that there was indeed a roaring trade to be made in mining this genre (there's gold in them thar boobs!), it didn't take long for everyone's favourite distributor Roger Corman, and producer Maurice Smith, to get a sequel underway. This time our four delinquents from Beaver High, who've now failed their senior year four times, are being sent off to summer school at Coxwell Academy, run by the strict Principal Arsenault, aided and abetted by Miss Von Blow.

Now you may just have noticed a few dirty jokes in that last sentence. If you sniggered at the name of the Academy the boys are sent to (say it slowly if you didn't get it the first time), you will more than likely dig this film. If you rolled your eyes and think that double entendre is only funny to people who laugh at Benny Hill and Carry On… films, walk away – there's nothing for you here.

Brad Lovett, Steve Hardman, Hugh G Rection and Marvin Eatmore (not the same characters from Screwballs, although two are reprising similar roles) are our flunkers, sent to Coxwell in the hope that they'll finally graduate. The odds are against it, as these fellas are all too obsessed with sex. When we first see Brad, he's playing strip craps with a couple of co-eds, Steve's feeling up the student he's meant to be helping with her…ahem…stroke, Hugh's invented a remote control device for up-skirting, and gluttonous Marvin is perving on the cheerleaders.

"Our mission, should we decide to take it, is to locate and ravage as many women on that bus as possible!"

On arriving at Coxwell just ahead of a busload of mainly clueless young bimbettes and JDs, our boys, pretending to be doctors, have all of the young women disrobe and stage a breast exam, sending all the young men to the female staff toilets to disrobe on a similar pretext, to provide a shock for the first female teacher who enters. These shenanigans bring them to the attention of Principal Arsenault. In his office, they first meet new French teacher Mona Lott (lots of double entendre ensues about boxes, slots, positions, French, etc), and a plan is born: "Let's turn this situation into an interesting project: I propose that we start a points system. Ten points for every girl that we score, five for an almost, two for a look-see, and, uhh, a cool hundred for a certain Miss Mona Lott."

Let the games begin! Steve immediately heads for the top of the list, trying to put his moves on Mona, Brad tries a novel approach by dragging up and trying to infiltrate the girls' dorm, Marvin decides to join a gym, and Hugh decides to enhance his..errr…"profile", shall we say, by padding it up with tissues in order to become more attractive to the fairer sex.

Marvin seems to enjoy his trip to the gym, Hugh strikes out through his own lack of foresight. "Bradine" enjoys a certain amount of success, before being found out by the Brunnhilde-esque Miss Von Blow, whereas Steve gets into some hot water, by getting into some hot water…

After the boys discuss their various failures, it's time for a beach party. It's worth mentioning two things that really do date this movie at this point: clothes and music. By this point of the film I've already seen dayglo, girls dressing like Madonna, enormous teased hair, spiral perms, make-up and clothes in colours not found in nature, polka dot dresses, tank-tops – and I've heard bad, bad music. But these are indeed staples of the 80s teen sex comedy, and I think are also things that make that genre a little difficult to access if you weren't a teen in the 80s. And even though parts of the soundtrack and a lot of the costuming make me wince, I still have a great deal of nostalgia for these kind of films – life just seemed so much easier back then, and I guess that's part of the appeal of a film like Loose Screws. For the 77 minutes duration, it's like you're back in your senior year of high school, and your only concerns are the concerns of that time – girls, getting loaded, hanging out, video games, movies, music, comics – all the important things, right? Kind of like being trapped in a Ramones song, really. That's a good thing.

The beach party, or more to the point the scene just afterwards, is actually the first point where the film pauses to draw a breath, and allow some of the characters to actually get some runs on the board, as it were – all four of them previously sitting on a great big goose-egg. It also allows us to know about an important plot point – Coxwell is having a Founder's Day ceremony, and a statue will be unveiled on that day. Now this, as we all know is red rag to a bull material for any bunch of ne'er-do-wells in this kind of film, from Revenge Of The Nerds to National Lampoon's Animal House. It's from this point that the audience awaits a gloriously futile gesture on behalf of our heroes.

In the meantime, the sleaze keeps on…umm…coming. Hugh and Marv have the bright idea of concocting a liquid that will, when added to pool water, make bathing suits disappear. It strikes you at this point that if throughout all of history, all the energy which men have ever expended to see women naked had actually been channelled into science – we'd be living on fucking Mars by now, in houses like the ones the Jetsons live in, with robot servants to do all the work for us. Anyway, Hugh and Marv aren't the luckiest fellas around… Still what happens to them is better than getting hit in the nuts with a golf club. Watch and learn…

"Actually, I'm just here to gaze at your tits."

By the time all of the fellas have taken a shot at Mona, it's been a swing and a miss each time. Steve and Brad's efforts being sexual assault, Marvin and Hugh's simply voyeurism gone horribly wrong. And each time busted by jealous Principal Arsenault, who's also a bit toey where Mona is concerned, dishing out some poetic justice each time. But at the same time as he tightens his metaphorical grip on the fellas, he's pushing them to react – and as he's put them on a curfew and under his own personal supervision, banned from seeing female teachers or students and banned them from all regular classes, what else can they do but sneak out and go to a strip club?

What happens there, I'll leave it up to you to find out, but it's damn funny, and leads to the boys being expelled. Now, remember that gloriously futile and pointless gesture I was talking about before? Sit back and watch it all unwind…

What's happened in between this film and Screwballs is twofold. Firstly, the audience reacts to the characters differently. We're not rooting for the underdog here as much as we do in the original film. I think this was a missed opportunity on the part of the script. Without a Tim (the naïve, inexperienced likeable guy from the first film), the film puts distance between itself and the audience. Secondly, and you probably won't believe me, but the level of sleaze is actually greater than before. I don't know if that's a reflection of the shift in context, or the fact that the characters are meant to be older – the director claims that the nudity was required by the producer and that he didn't look while directing those scenes. The first part of that makes sense, but I don't buy the second claim for a nanosecond.

Loose Screws is essentially a rewrite of Screwballs, brought forward to the 1980s. It shares many similar scenes, follows a very similar, almost identical, plot. It has a sleazier, harder kind of edge, but never loses its sense of fun. I like it a lot, but given the choice between this and the original, I'd take the original every time – but that's not a choice I can justify on paper, and I've given this film the same rating as I did for Screwballs. It's a film that is very much a product of its time, and that may turn some people off, but to hell with them, they wouldn't be able to laugh if their life depended on it – good comedy doesn't age. Why do you think people still get a kick out of The Three Stooges?
Video
I don't think the film is ever going to look any better on DVD, to be honest with you. I've said before that Severin do not release inferior quality product – you always get the best possible A/V from them. The 16:9 enhanced 1.78:1 transfer is reasonably crisp, the colour palette vibrant – although maybe that was just my eyes' reaction to all that 80s "fashion"…
Audio
The audio was fine – loud and clear (and that's the case on both versions of the film on the disc), although that means that you have no trouble hearing the soundtrack, which consists of songs so awful they'll make you want to saw off your own ears and eat them rather than listen.
Extra Features
You get a few Extras here, but oddly with no involvement from the cast. There's an audio commentary with director Rafal Zielinski where he basically proves that he has no sense of irony. Informative? Sure. Engaging for the audience? No. Plus, he seems to view the film as a kind of social commentary on the time in which he was making it, and that he's presenting realistic characters and a non-cartoonish film generally. Likening the main characters to the four points of the Buddhist prayer circle was a leap of the imagination I wasn't willing to make. Then there are two interviews, one with Producer Maurice Smith (interesting and informative about the pre-production of the film, but a tad deluded about the nature of the film he's made here; he states that sex comedy should favour the scalpel approach over that of the sledgehammer – did I miss something?) and another with Production Manager Ken Gord (I can't comment on this, as the disc seemed to have some kind of fault during this bit – the picture locked up, then skipped and then played at twice the usual speed with no sound).

The most notable feature you get is the international cut of the film. This runs for 88 minutes and is presented in "Authentic VHS-Vision!" In other words, full-frame 1.33:1 and a softer image with VHS flaws (although still pretty good), with big black bars on all sides of the image, making it smaller. Before you start thinking that the 11 extra minutes of footage will be boob-filled bliss – afraid not. The extra footage is made up of extended shots, basically. Nice of Severin to include this for the completists, but honestly, I prefer the shorter version. I don't think Loose Screws needs a longer duration, and I felt that the pacing suffered. Nevertheless, as per usual, Severin have come up with the goods again. Buy with confidence.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Loose Screws is the younger, dumber, cruder brother to Screwballs. I liked it just fine, as you could probably tell from the above, but it lacks some of the charm of the original film. Nevertheless, you'll laugh, you'll ogle, you'll groan at the excruciatingly corny double entendres on display - but most importantly, you'll be entertained.

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