Three short years after helping
to jump start the slasher frenzy that would dominate horror throughout the 1980s,
director Sean S. Cunningham – no doubt inspired by the phenomenal success
of the late Bob Clark's PORKY'S, released a year prior – gathered up a
camera crew and hit the beaches of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, seeking to stake
his claim on the burgeoning teen sex comedy genre. Favorable box office returns,
repeated VHS rentals and late night basic cable airings have helped the film
acquire a reputation as one of the more memorable and attractive pictures of
its somewhat limited genre, providing fans a nostalgic look back at time when
the worst thing you had to worry about catching from a one night stand was crabs.
Looking to forget the pressure and stress of their college studies, best friends Nelson (David Knell) and Adam (Perry Lang) head south to Fort Lauderdale, to partake in the annual celebration of wanton flesh and alcoholic libations known simply as, Spring Break. After letting their eyes adjust to the glaring sun and tanning bodies of South Beach, the two excited youths check into their hotel, only to discover that their room has been overbooked, leaving them with two additional roomies, Stu (Paul Land) and O.T. (Steve Bassett). At first a minor inconvenience, Stu and O.T. prove to be a blessing in disguise as they decide to take the two inexperienced boys under their wing to show them everything that Spring Break has to offer. Between drinking contests and their resulting hangovers, each of the four men navigate their way through a sea of available women, looking to blow off a little steam and possibly find love. Nelson’s fun is however threatened to be cut short when his stepfather, an asshole politician, catches wind of his stepson’s shenanigans and sets his cronies out to fetch the young lad before his actions wind up costing him any votes. He also happens to be the same bumbling bureaucrat that is looking to buy the very hotel that Nelson and friends are staying at, employing the hotel owners’ brother-in-law (Richard B. Shull, COCKFIGHTER) to close the seaside lodge at any cost. Can Nelson avoid his stepfather in time to save the motel? Will he ever find out the name of the girl that got away? And most importantly, who will win the wet t-shirt contest?
Teen sex comedies, particularly those of the 1980s, tend to a follow a single tried and true formula. Gather together two to four horny adolescent males, follow their exploits as they chase tail, shows some boobs and voila. There is also a tendency for such fare to take place on sandy beaches, under impressive heat (HOT MOVES, FRATERNITY VACATION, PRIVATE RESORT, LOOSE SCREWS, etc.) allowing ample opportunity to showcase as many attractive girls and boys as possible. The kids run around the beach looking for love, often having to band together to save the day from some stuffy adult who is bumming everybody out by closing down the one place in town where they can hang out, free of adult supervision. They’re a lot like the Frankie and Annette beach pictures only with an exploitative twist in which you get see to see Annette’s nipples. And that right there is the kicker, the clear distinction that separates the two. Tits. Nipples to be exact. You can show a beach full of bouncy breast of every shape and size but it’s not until the nipple is exposed that people feel that they have seen all that a boob has to offer. I don’t pretend to clearly understand the distinction. Personally I'm a fan of every subtle nuance the female breast has to offer, but there is something about a clearly visible areola that audiences and rating boards can’t help but respond to. The sex in SPRING BREAK is pretty tame, particularly when compared to modern sex comedies such as the AMERICAN PIE series, and its story is so familiar and threadbare that it almost becomes a postscript. There are however plenty of boobs (soaking wet, fully exposed and squished into neon lycra) and depending on your age and maturity level, that’s probably all you’ll remember after the end credits have rolled, and trust me, that’s exactly what Sean S. Cunningham was counting on.
The film's soundtrack is quintessential 1980s fare, featuring tracks from NRBQ, .38 Special, Jack Mack & The Heart Attack and Cheap Trick. Having grown up and received most of my own education throughout the 1980s, I often find myself nostalgic of the cinema of the era, the music however, not so much. It does feel appropriate and it’s hard to imagine the picture without it but make no bones about it, the soundtrack is laughably bad, with lyrics that narrate the action like a volunteer reading a book to a blind man. Otherwise, the movie is quite fun. The mood is lighthearted, with no one taking themselves too seriously and although the subplots have been done and overdone tirelessly before, the film is what it is and doesn’t try to be anything else. Anyone looking for a good drinking game should try taking a sip anytime a Coke product is shown or mentioned. In typical movie fashion, everyone orders a “beer” when they hit the club but when someone wants a soft drink, only a refreshing Coke-a-Cola will do. And if you can manage to tear your eyes away from the nubile parade of flesh on display, keep those peppers peeled for an uncredited virtuoso performance by “Curb Your Enthusiasm’s” Jeff Garlan as Crazy Gut Gut, one of O.T.’s competitors in the belly flop contest.
While the film's focus is clearly on the dudes, deriving most of it comedy from their achievements and foul-ups, it’s the bikini clad, scantly dressed (if dressed at all) ladies that are the real attraction. A Penthouse Pet (July of 1978 and August of 1981) and Pet of the Year (1982), Corinne Alphen lights up the screen as Joan, O.T.’s love interest and lead singer of “Hot Date”. Painted into a skin tight leotard, her rhythmic gyrations may cause palpitations with those with weak hearts. Sadly, the most we get to see of Corinne is in a little two piece number while showering herself off on the beach. Those looking to see more of the former Mrs. Ken Wahl can however see her give up the goods in both AMAZON WOMEN ON THE MOON and NEW YORK NIGHTS. Jayne Modean, who plays Nelson’s love interest Susie, is cute as a button and unexpectedly promiscuous given her character's somewhat clean cut image. Jayne notched a couple of television appearance after her debut in SPRING BREAK, but has been relatively inactive in the industry since her brief marriage to "Full House" star Dave Coulier ended in the early 1990s. Like Corinne, Jayne manages to keep everything on for the film but there are plenty of ladies who aren’t nearly as bashful, including Sheila Kennedy, also a former Penthouse Pet (December of 1981) and “Big Brother” contestant who strips down and goes wild for the film’s pivotal wet t-shirt contest.
Previously released on VHS by RCA/Columbia Pictures, SPRING BREAK makes its DVD debut courtesy of Anchor Bay with an anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) presentation. There are few occasions where skintones lean toward the red, which could be due to sunburn, but otherwise the picture holds up nicely with no noticeable hairs or marks and a light yet healthy coat of grain. The Dolby Digital mono track is quite crisp and easy to follow and is accompanied by optional English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired. Before the title menu, there are few trailers for several contemporary Anchor Bay releases, otherwise this release's sole extra is the film’s original trailer. (Jason McElreath)
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