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Case Number 17067

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Spring Break

Anchor Bay // 1983 // 101 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Christopher Kulik (Retired) // August 19th, 2009

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All Rise...

Judge Christopher Kulik's wet T-shirt victories were the result of some unfortunate genetic experimentation.

The Charge

Mr. Skin is a big fan of this movie!

Opening Statement

Good for him.

Facts of the Case

Two naïve college guys travel down to Ft. Lauderdale for some R&R. Nelson (David Knell, Total Recall) is a nerd and possible virgin. His sidekick Adam (Perry Lang, Sunshine State) is a little more experienced with brew, but still feels intimidated by babes.

Soon after settling down in their beachfront motel room, they meet Stu (Paul Land, Wild Orchid) and O.T. (Steve Bassett, The Jackal), two studs from Brooklyn looking for some T&A. Since their goals are similar, all four decide to let loose on the beach and in the bars for a week of wild fun.

There's only one problem with this plan. Nelson's stepfather Ernest (Donald Symington, Mighty Aphrodite), an ultra-conservative Senatorial candidate, is outraged at Nelson's unannounced excursion. Refusing to be humiliated by his stepson's actions, Ernest travels down to South Florida to snatch Nelson away and put him back to work on his campaign.

The Evidence

It was inevitable that Spring Break would receive a DVD release. Produced and directed by Sean S. Cunningham (who helmed the original Friday The 13th), the film somehow raked in $24 million at the box office. For 1983, this is pretty damn good. And a timely release in late March no doubt aided its large opening weekend numbers. Young audiences flocked to theaters to get a taste of their annual ritual before heading down South for the real thing. Likewise, newcomers to the vacation probably took the film as a training exercise. Seriously, since plot is the least of Spring Break's priorities, it must have served as a visual schedule of weekly activities. Let's run down the events, shall we?

The Belly-Flop Contest: Ahh, yes, let's see who can splash down in a pool so hard they can make all the spectators wet. Naturally, the participants are all male and we have the token fat guys for maximum impact. Footnote: one contestant happens to be Jeff Garlin, of Curb Your Enthusiasm fame, who decides to moon the audience before taking the plunge.

The Hot Date Concert: After drying yourself off, let's then head on over to one of the many bars on the strip to see an all-girl band bring down the house. Headed by buxom lead singer Joan (Corrine Alphen, Penthouse Pet of the Year 1982), the group electrifies the crowd with their songs "Do It To You" and "Have Some Fun Tonight." Don't forget your beer, also!

The Wet T-Shirt Contest: An audience favorite, this is something you don't want to miss. We have rounded up some of the most trim, nubile young bodies in town to get their chests hosed down and reveal their most valuable assets. Don't worry ladies, we also provide a show for you. Afterward, we shall spray down some beefy studs and let you come up on stage to choose your hunk for the evening.

The Banana Showdown: With special thanks to our local Safeway, we now end the evening with all the couples on the stage performing kinky acts while consuming bananas. Get ready to peel off, guys!

The Teenie-Weenie Bikini Contest: If the Wet T-Shirt contest wasn't hot enough for ya, we now have college girls from all around this great nation showing off their favorite swimwear. Watch as they walk back and forth, back and forth, back and forth…and don't forget your beer, woohoo!

At any rate, I think you pretty much get the idea of Spring Break. For an entire hour, it's nothing more than a series of exploitative contests and tiresome beer blasts. Every now and then it stops for an occasional cutaway of a bikini-clad girl on the beach. Director Cunningham seems more concerned with the leering male gaze than anything else; even his own credit comes up right after Adam eyes a girl sunbathing outside of the motel. Indeed, Spring Break feels right at home in the perverted pantheon of lowball teen sex comedies. The early '80s were chock full of these embarrassing time-killers. And, for some inexplicable reason, a recent renaissance has come about thanks to DVD releases of other forgotten genre entries like Screwballs and Hardbodies.

That being said, the only benefit of Spring Break is its standing as a nostalgia trip. This was filmed two years before Ft. Lauderdale cleaned up the hedonism, raised the legal drinking age, and enforced strict laws for partying vacationers. Places like Daytona Beach and Cancun have since taken up the reigns, and MTV has been there to cover all the decadence. Compared to the reality shows covering Spring Break today, this movie seems mildly innocent in comparison. This still doesn't make the flick any good, however.

The mostly unknown cast doesn't bring much to the proceedings. Aside from Knell, who has his moments as the awkward nerd, the rest of the group is negligible. I also sort of liked Knell's love interest, played with sincerity by the cute Jayne Modean (Less Than Zero). The only really amusing moments in Spring Break involve these two characters, including a scene where Knell gets lost in the hotel she's staying in.

One eerie fact about Spring Break involves its cover art. As you can see, the four male leads are planting a flag, Iwo Jima-style, in the hip of a girl. The hip belongs to Tammy Lynn Leppert, a model who also appeared in the film as a blonde boxer. After doing Spring Break, she then had a bit part in Brian De Palma's Scarface. A breakdown forced to her leave the film after a few days' shooting, and on July 6, 1983 she disappeared without a trace. Her case remains open, and has since been profiled on Unsolved Mysteries.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Despite its box office take, Columbia Pictures decided to pass on distributing Spring Break. Enter our old friends at Anchor Bay, who give this film a modest DVD presentation. The colors and flesh tones are reasonably good, but the picture is still marred by a generous amount of grain and splotches. Anchor Bay deserves kudos for delivering an acceptable anamorphic print, however. The mono soundtrack is kosher, and the songs (provided by .38 Special and Cheap Trick, among others) come through just fine. English subtitles are also provided. Extras are null and void, which is a disappointment. Personally, I've always found Cunningham a worthwhile speaker and a commentary would have been cool.

Closing Statement

At a retail price of $10, this barebones package is only recommended to die-hard fans of this forgettable piece of '80s raunch. You might even want to save your money for the Blu-ray release of Screwballs, which has a bigger cult following.

The Verdict

The court finds the film guilty of exploitation and Chiquita product placement.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 88
Audio: 85
Extras: 0
Acting: 73
Story: 27
Judgment: 52

Perp Profile

Studio: Anchor Bay
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
• English (SDH)
Running Time: 101 Minutes
Release Year: 1983
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Bad
• Comedy
• Exploitation
• Teen

Distinguishing Marks

• None


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