More Indie Spirit: Revenge of the Nerds; Decoys: The Second Seduction; Song For A Raggy Boy, and Black Eyed Dog

Panty Raid Edition Box ArtOnce again, we find ourselves confronted with proof that a lower budget doesn't mean a less creative movie. Revenge of the Nerds is a classic example, and while Decoys: The Second Seduction might not be a classic, it's still pretty creative. Song For a Raggy Boy and Black Eyed Dog are dramas that also manage to get by with minimal financing…

 

Panty Raid Edition Box Art

 

Revenge of the Nerds: Panty Raid Edition

To my mind, there are two great college comedies: Animal House and its flipside, Revenge of the Nerds. The first deals with the trials and tribulations of the most grotesque fraternity on campus and the latter deals with the guys who would be the first group's favorite targets.

Louis Skolnick [Robert Carradine] and Gilbert [Anthony Edwards] are off to college – the prestigious Adams College ["Home of the Atoms"] – leaving home for the first time. Unfortunately, no sooner do they get settled in than the drunken idiots of the Alpha Beta fraternity [home of the Atoms football team] burn down their frat house and the players take over the freshman dorm – leaving the freshmen to sleep in the gym.

Things go from bad to worse as Louis and Gilbert get hazed by the alpha Betas [who never intended to let them in] and the two become a rallying point for the rest of the frosh who've been left out in the cold [so to speak]. Before long, they've found and fixed up an old house and managed to become associated with an all-black fraternity, Lambda Lambda Lambda [or Tri-Lambs]. But just when things are looking up…

Shot on a small budget, the studio didn't have much faith in Nerds – but it opened big in limited release, they quickly rolled it out wide and the film became the surprise success of 1984. Like Animal House before it, it reached across demographics with its anti-bigotry message cleverly hidden behind horn-rimmed glasses and panty raids.

The film's director, Jeff Kanew, wasn't out to dazzle with technical tricks – the film is shot in about a basic a manner as you can imagine, – but he was smart about when to let the excellent cast [including John Goodman, Ted McGinley, Michelle Meyrink, Julia Montgomery, Curtis Armstrong, Timothy Busfield and David Wohl] improvise and when to stick to the script. The result is a movie that entertains on both a lowest-common-denominator level and a more intelligent one – and has a genuine sweetness. That all three levels come together so well is one of those happy miracles that occasionally happen at the movies…

Features include: an audio commentary track that cuts back and forth between Kanew and the trio of Carradine, Busfield and Armstrong; I'm a Nerd and I'm Pretty Proud of It – a collection of reminiscences from the cast and director; the Revenge of the Nerds TV pilot [there's a reason it didn't sell!]; Deleted Scenes, and theatrical trailers for Nerds and its sequel.

Revenge of the Nerds – Grade: A-

Features: A

Final Grade: A-

 

The Second Seduction Box Art

 

Decoys: The Second Seduction

Those gorgeous, man-eating alien babes with no navels are back in Decoys: The Second Seduction [if you can believe the box art], or Decoys: alien Seduction [if you prefer to go with the opening credits!]. One movie – two titles! And gorgeous, navel-free babes for all!

Like Decoys, the sequel is a mash-up of fifties-style sf/horror thriller and college sex comedy. The raspy saxophone of the opening credits, and the instrumental score call to mind b-movies of the fifties and sixties, while the general vibe of the film is definitely seventies/eighties college sex comedy.

When a group of slightly nerdy college students decide to make a competition out of getting laid, they don't realize that they are setting themselves up for some encounters of the grotesque kind. Fortunately, Luke Callahan [Corey Sevier] – the lone survivor of an attempted alien mating [which has left him with nightmarish visions that even prescription drugs can't stop] is on campus as a teaching assistant to Professor Erwin Buckton [Tobin Bell], an authority on the oddities of evolution. What Buckton is not, however, is immune to the charms of Dr. Constance Snowden [Kim Poirier], the leader of the aliens.

This raucous, ribald little thriller is a lot better than I thought it'd be. Unlike the original Decoys, Decoys: Alien Seduction manages to balance its b-movie SF/horror traits and its college sex comedy traits with a lot more finesse. One of the problems is that the aliens just aren't as appealing in the sequel. The original Decoys were hotter and, generally speaking, better actors. Of course, the more amateurish performances do fall in line with those of the typical b-movie college sex farce, so they aren't that much of a hindrance to enjoying this flick.

The other big problem is that the human characters just aren't that interesting once you get past horror and SF vets Tobin Bell and Dina Meyer [she plays Luke's psychologist]. On the other hand, some of the effects [like, say, the tentacles] are pretty decent – though the actual alien creatures are a bit too clunky. But, then, wasn't that a hallmark of the average

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