I watched this Roger Corman produced 80s college comedy with fellow Mondo Exploito scribe Pierre. Most of our screening nights of late have been horrific Hong Kong CAT IIIs filled with debauchery, rape, and stupidity. As obnoxious as Hong Kong films can be, at least the rapists are the villains (and usually get their comeuppance). With 80s sex comedies, it’s generally the reverse. The sleaziest characters are the heroes as they dribble and grope their way through the running time. School Spirit is no exception.
USA, 1985, Alan Holleb
Billy needs a condom to follow through with the deed. He rushes out to a local bar and after a few gags involving ill-fitting and out-of-date condoms, he eventually gets his stinking sex-starved paws on one. He desperately tries to make it back for his session with Judith, but, distracted by the condom that he holds up like a prize, he gets into a car accident and dies.
In the operating theatre, Billy’s horny spirit exits his dying body. In semi-transparent form, he meets his guardian angel: a total fucking creep called Pinky (John Finnegan), the guy who gave Billy his first beer. Pinky wants Billy to walk towards the light, but Billy wants to get laid one last time. Billy doesn’t particularly care that he’s dead. And nor should he. It seems like there’s no downside to the spirit world. Billy can fluctuate between his regular physical presence and invisibility when he’s in the mood for perving on showering girls (and helping them find their towels).
The fact that Billy is a ghost becomes completely fucking superfluous to the film’s plot. Honestly. It has nothing to do with the main story, which follows the arrival of a sexy college benefactor (Danièle Arnaud) and the celebration of a beer-swilling jock and boobs fest called Hog Day. At times, I even forgot that Billy was a ghost. He rarely bothers to use his invisibility power except to play the occasional food-themed prank.
Though it starts fairly tame, it’s not long before School Spirit careens into a carnival of 80s decadence and lunacy. The film’s final act is one giant party scene as real life band The Gleaming Spires pound out glitzy tunes in front of a wild crowd of costumed idiots, boobs, and the world’s shittiest slippery party slide. The slide is so horizontal the partygoers struggle to make it to the bottom.
School Spirit also has the honour of featuring some of the most unsettlingly creepy comic set pieces I’ve seen in a goofy college comedy, rivaling the seedy Screwballs movies (also produced by Roger Corman). One scene in particular had me shouting at the screen. An invisible Pinky (Billy’s repulsive dirty uncle guardian ghost for those who aren’t keeping track) slips into bed with a scantily clad girl, mumbling aloud his filthy thoughts and peeling her clothes off. Though the scene ends with him getting punched in the face, it leaves an extraordinarily bad taste and, of course, makes this required viewing.
School Spirit‘s leading man is far less charismatic and interesting than his co-stars. The film’s ever-suffering antagonists fair much better. Larry Linville is far too good for a movie like this, yet he still, for some reason, gives it his best making for a fabulously cranky college dean stereotype. Nick Segal is also a lot of fun as Gregg, an uptight square who goes on a far more interesting journey than the film’s ghostly hero.
Alan Holleb — who only has one other film to his name, Candy Stripe Nurses (1974) — directs this in classic Corman-lackey style. Every shot is bursting with silliness. Each extra is distractingly dressed in absurd costumes and performing as if they took lessons at the Troma School of Acting. It’s great. There’s also a giant inflatable pig.
We’ll never get a movie like School Spirit again. And while that’s probably a good thing, it’s hard not to enjoy its total lack of scruples and singular goal to titillate and entertain in the trashiest and cheapest way possible. If you like your 80s college sex comedies fun, fast and stupid, you need this in your life.
School Spirit is available on DVD from Buena Vista.