1983, Rafal Zielinski

Let me begin by saying that Screwballs is probably my all time favourite teen comedy. Since seeing it as a teenager, however many decades ago that was, it retains its status as the most immature and absurdly watchable guilty treats going around. If movies were junk food, this would be the equivalent of that shopping mall fried chicken that is, like a third of the price of KFC but tastes just as offensively good. Or something.

I recently upgraded from my VHS copy of Screwballs to the glorious DVD put out by Severin. I often don’t bother to upgrade, but if the movie holds a special enough place in my heart and the DVD/Blu-ray looks good enough I will totally go the upgrade route. And in the case of Screwballs, the DVD was worth upgrading to on both counts. The disc is crammed full of fantastic extras, including cast and crew interviews, deleted scenes, and most excitingly an audio commentary featuring the director, Rafal Zielinski, which is worth the price of the DVD on its own.

Five gawking morons

If you haven’t seen Screwballs before, and shame on you if this is the case, let me just tell you a little bit about the film. Screwballs follows the adventures of five lecherous teen stereotypes as they endeavour to see the breasts of the most unattainable girl in school, Purity Busch. That’s it. That is the story. Four guys, one set of breasts that they really want to catch a glimpse of. Simplicity at its finest. That is not to say that this is all that goes on in Screwballs. Along the way our protagonists encounter difficulties at the hands of the villainous Principal Stuckoff, do some strip bowling with the girls, get involved in fisticuffs at the local drive-in, perform amateur breast exams, and even try to hypnotise a pool full of young ladies using a giant sausage. The five lead teen-male stereotypes are a wisecracking jock, a rich kid who always carries a tennis racquet, a nerd, the new kid at school and, of course, the fat kid, who also happens to have the best character name in film history, Melvin Jerkovski.

Melvin Jerkovski living up to his surname

Melvin Jerkovski isn’t the only classic character name in Screwballs. We also have Bootsy Goodhead, played by co-writer Linda Shayne, and Miss Anna Tommical, played by Raven De La Croix, who you may have seen in Russ Meyer’s out of control epic, Up! (not to be confused with the family animation film of the same name). But going back to Linda Shayne, the DVD features a very informative interview with her and other co-writer Jim Wynorski as they discuss writing Screwballs for Roger Corman, and the hilarity behind the scenes of making such a film. For anyone interested in how movies like Screwballs managed to come into existence this is definitely worth a watch.

Principal Stuckoff and Purity Busch

As I mentioned before, most exciting, is the audio commentary with, director Rafal Zielinski. He comes across as a softly spoken, very reserved, almost prudish man, who is prodded by his interviewers to dish on various raunchy aspects of the film, all the while maintaining the image of an arthouse film-maker stuck in sex comedy hell. Zielinski discusses film-making techniques learnt from working with Roger Corman, such as always having movement happening on the screen, like sight gags in the background constantly happening during scenes of dialogue. He also disappoints the interviewers by revealing that the most important plot point of the movie and thing most paused-on by viewers was faked. Guess which bit I’m talking about?

Even though it is a couple years old now, it is well worth buying this DVD or Bluray from Severin Films for all the hilarity/insanity that it is, the great extras and the fact that it is probably the first time you will ever see Screwballs in anamorphic widescreen.