Four Penmore College girls hit Ft. Lauderdale for spring break for “animal sex and debauchery” (not really) in WHERE THE BOYS ARE, a 1984 version of the Gordon Swarthout novel (previously filmed in 1960 with Paula Prentiss and George Hamilton), out on DVD from Scorpion Releasing.
Our quartet of college coeds are not all initially planning to go WHERE THE BOYS ARE (the actual onscreen title, the ’84 seems to have been added to the publicity materials to distinguish it from the original); in fact, prim and proper Sandra (Wendy Schaal, CREATURE) is providing her car for the trip but planning on heading on to Aruba, studious music major Jenny (Lisa Hartman, DEADLY BLESSING) is thinking of staying on campus and studying, Carol (Lorna Luft, 54), however, has already pissed off her boyfriend Chip (Howard McGillin, COMPANY BUSINESS) by choosing Ft. Lauderdale with the girls at the last minute over their planned Vermont ski trip, and hot-to-trot Laurie (Lynn-Holly Johnson, THE WATCHER IN THE WOODS) is ready to troll the meat market in hopes of meeting “Conan”. On the road, they pick up hitchhiker Scott (Russell Todd, FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2) who is on his way to Ft. Lauderdale to meet up with his band. Scott takes a liking to Jenny and invites the girls to come see his band perform at a bar only to then discover that the owner would rather use them as waiters than singers with the rockabilly group The Rockats taking center stage. To further add to Scott’s embarrassment, Sandra has arranged for Jenny to meet her composer cousin Camden Roxbury III (Daniel McDonald, THE FALCON AND THE SNOWMAN) and his snobby mother Barbara (Louise Sorel, TV’s DAYS OF OUR LIVES). To Scott’s dismay, Jenny takes a liking to Camden and he invites her to his upcoming concert as his special guest. When tipsy Laurie crashes into the awning outside of a hotel and is carted off to jail along with Sandra by Officer Ernie (Asher Brauner, AMERICAN EAGLE) and ballet dancer Carol must join and Scott’s buff bandmate Jeff (Stephen Moore) in the "Hot Bods" dance competition to pay their bail just in time for her boyfriend Chip and his buddy Gary (Robert Goodman, REVENGE OF THE NERDS II) to see catch them gyrating on stage. Carol and Jeff lose the competition to another competitor who goes the extra mile by popping her top, and their second place price is only enough to get one of the girls out of jail. They flip a coin and Laurie wins. Officer Ernie takes pity on Sandra and releases her, and also asks her out for coffee. While Scott and his bandmates plan to crash Camden's party to win Jenny, Sandra is entertaining thoughts of being a homewrecker when she learns that Ernie is separated from his wife and had a kid, Carol seeks solace with Scott's bandmate Tony (Christopher MacDonald, HAPPY GILMORE) when Chip takes up with foxy older socialite Maggie (Alana Stewart, NIGHT CALL NURSES), and Laurie sets out to conquer her Conan (Frank Zagarino, BARBARIAN QUEEN).
Ft. Lauderdale has changed a lot since the 1960 novel and film, and the viewer might wonder how a cast of TV vets and hopefuls wound up in an R-rated sex comedy. The truth is: it’s not all that naughty (Umberto Lenzi’s WELCOME TO SPRING BREAK looks considerably raunchier in comparison). The film’s drama is pretty soapy and the film probably enjoyed more success in its cable runs than as a theatrical release. The film subverts some expectations with Camden not the usual easy-to-blow-off jerk alternative to the wrong-side-of-the-tracks guy (Camden and Scott actually find some common ground before the big concert climax). There are some funny bits, and Luft and Schaal are consistently hilarious, but the drama is all wrapped up in a neatly contrived manner (no one really gets hurt and the life lessons are too easily learned). The four protagonists are attractive, likable, and played by actresses who are simultaneously fresh faces to the movie screen but seasoned performers on the stage.
Hartman (now Lisa Hartman-Black), daughter of country singer Howard Black, was on the prime-time soap KNOTS LANDING while working on this film (she also sung the film’s theme song). Schaal, daughter of actor Richard Schaal (SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE), already had an impressive resume of TV appearances in the late seventies – including guest shots on RHODA with her then-stepmother Valerie Harper – and early eighties before this film. She later appeared in *BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED and BRIGHT LIGHTS BIG CITY, and was seemed to be a favorite of Joe Dante, appearing in INNERSPACE, THE ‘BURBS, SMALL SOLDIERS, his AMAZING STORIES episode “Boo” and TV movie RUNAWAY DAUGHTERS. Schaal’s most recent gig is the voice of the mother on the Fox cartoon AMERICAN DAD. Johnson, a professional ice skater, had already appeared in ICE CASTLES and FOR YOUR EYES ONLY. Luft, daughter of Judy Garland and producer Sidney Luft, was a singer who had already appeared on Broadway in PROMISES, PROMISES, SNOOPY, GUYS AND DOLLS, and GREASE, before appearing in the film GREASE 2. Apart from a handful of TV guest roles and appearances in MY GIANT and 54, most of her work has been on the stage. Singer/songwriter Jude Cole plays one of Scott’s bandmates and sings the main title song “Hot Nights.”
Previously released on tape on VHS by 20th Century Fox offshoot Key Video, the rights to this Tri-Star release (their first) reverted to ITC Productions, whose holdings are now owned by Rank (which is why this and all other Scorpion titles from Rank will be coded for Region 1 only). Scorpion's progressive, anamorphic 1.78:1 DVD sported bright colors, but detail was poor with blow out highlights. This seems to be symptomatic of Rank’s masters rather than a fault of Scorpion (the transfers of the Rank-supplied SWEET WILLIAM and SILVER DREAM RACER also seem to come from inferior sources that have been over-sharpened) who seemed to have been supplied with older 4:3 masters upscaled to 16:9 and oversharpened (with the exception of some titles like REVENGE which was left in 4:3 letterbox and THE FANTASIST which seems to be a newer 16:9 transfer). The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, on the other hand, sounded great with the score of Sylvester Levay (who had arranged Giorgio Moroder’s compositions for SCARFACE and FLASHDANCE the previous year) and the Rockats numbers keeping the track active. Scorpion's new Blu-ray benefits from a brand new scan, retaining a degree of eighties softness while bringing textures of eighties hair and tight-knit sweaters, as well as bright blue eyes, red sports cars, neon bikinis, and various shades of tanned bare flesh to the fore. There is also an enhanced sense of depth that reminds the viewer that this was a theatrical feature rather than the flatter television look it had on the older master. The Dolby Stereo track also gets a notable boost in lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 with clear representation of dialogue during the pre-credits sequence before the speakers burst to life with the opening credits rock track.
Carried over from the DVD also features lengthy interviews with stars Wendy Schaal (32:33) and Russell Todd (22:09). A cheerful Schaal fondly remembers her co-stars and the production. She describes working with flamboyant producer Allan Carr (GREASE) and admits that they switched from fake marijuana to the real stuff for the beach funeral scene. She spends the later half of the interview discussing several of her other parts. Todd was discovered by Carr when he noticed Todd’s headshot on his hairstylist’s wall. He recalls Carr fondly and discusses the party-like nature of the shoot (Carr was known for his extravagant parties). He remembers the cast members fondly, although his recollection of the poster shoot conflicts with Schaal’s. He confirms that he did not sing during the finale (he was dubbed by Peter Becket of “Little River Band”). He also briefly discusses FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 – as well his experience of F13 conventions – CHOPPING MALL, and his three-year stint on the soap ANOTHER WORLD. He now owns an agency representing Steadicam operators. The film’s trailer (2:16) is also included. The Blu-ray edition is limited to 2,000 copies and available exclusively from Screen Archives. (Eric Cotenas)
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