Schlock fans didn’t know how good they had in the early 1980’s. It was the era of gratuitous nudity and smutty humor. The “teen sex comedy” genre was king and delivered an endless tide of jiggle that flowed freely at movie theaters and on pay cable t.v. stations. Everyone fond of this genre has their own list of personal favorites and recurring item on virtually all those lists is Screwballs, a demented classic that is renowned to fans as one of the wildest, smuttiest and fleshiest teen sex comedies ever committed to celluloid.
The script, penned by future straight-to-video kingpin Jim Wynorski and star Linda Shayne, takes place in an unspecified past era at Taft & Adams High (that’s right, T&A High). Purity Busch (Linda Speciale) is the school’s resident virginal teen-dream — and a mean-spirited goody two-shoes to make trouble for our heroes: handsome hornballs Rick (Peter Kelghan) and Brent (Kent Deuters), nerd Howie Bates (Alan Daveau), masturbation obsessive Melvin Jerkovski (Jason Warren) and hapless new kid Tim (Jim Stevenson).
After Purity gets our heroic fivesome railroaded into detention, they vow revenge and make a bet to see who can either score with Purity first or at least see her naked. What follows is a machine-gun barrage of lowbrow gags and bare breasts as the heroes stumble through an endless array of scams — hypnosis, special hiding places, impersonating female teachers, you name it. Purity manages to elude each attempt but her luck can’t hold out forever, leading to an unforgettable finale set during a pep rally.
The end result takes its cues from Porky’s, Airplane and old Archie comics as it tears through its storyline at blitzkrieg speed. Director Rafal Zielinski hits the ground running and never allows the pace to flag — even the end credits sequence roars past at breakneck speed. Some gags work better than others (the hypnotism scene doesn’t work well enough to justify the amount of time it gets) but the film’s sense of narrative drive ensures that it never lingers on any one moment long enough to get boring.
It also helps that script packs every corner of every frame with endearingly sleazy humor and endless opportunities for the female cast members to remove their tops. Wynorski and Shayne throw everything they’ve got at the audience, keeping their plotting episodic enough to work in additional highlights like visits to a drive-in and a strip club that features a dance routine by former Russ Meyer starlet Raven De La Croix. However, the pièce de résistance may be a session of “strip bowling” that includes the films wildest sight gag (it’s too good to spoil, you gotta see it for yourself).
Finally, it’s worth noting that the film creates a very appealing fantasy world with some unexpectedly positive elements amidst all the smut. First of all, the film features a major female character — Bootsie Goodhead, essayed by co-writer Shayne — who is sexually liberated and never portrayed as a dumb slut. She does what she wants on her own terms and is probably the happiest and most confident character in the whole movie. It’s also worst noting that the group of heroes is a likeably egalitarian crew: the handsome guys work on equal-rights basis with the nerd and the fat guy and they all get to romp with the ladies.
In short, Screwballs delivers boobs & gags a-plenty for smut-craving schlock fiends — and it does so with a genuinely loveable zeal for its work. You really can’t ask for more from a teen sex comedy.
Trailer (slightly NSFW) — note that at least 3 shots are stock footage from ROCK & ROLL HIGH SCHOOL: