Monday, October 25, 2010

Porky's

So, you're probably wondering why in the name of All That is Tasteful that I'm reviewing the lowbrow 1982 classic PORKY'S. Valid question. Is it because I've run out of worthwhile cinema to review? Nope. It's because of this nagging memory of my experience seeing the movie. A guilt-ridden remembrance that makes me cringe even more than thinking back on the film itself.

As I've stated here many times, 1982 was a banner year for my movie going. Restricted films were now on the list of possibles (with parental accompanyment of course). I was also 13 years old. PORKY's. 13 year old boy. Combustive. I had to see this film. One of my church friends spoke of the naughty details to me before a service one Sunday. I can remember his exact quote, but I'll clean it up. He stated that regarding the female nudity in this movie, everytime you saw a bare chest, you also saw a bare, um, lower half. He was positively beaming. My libidinousness rejoiced, my faith recoiled. He was telling me this in church! Yes, so many lurid memories associated with this picture.

But, the worst thing was how I begged my father to take me. He looked at the ads and commercials and with no hesitation stated that he thought it would be crap. I was relentless. Artistic concerns were not a priority. Against his better judgment, he took me. Here's the guilty part-he told my mother we were going to see GREASE 2. Ugh. BTW, GREASE 2 is another bad film, but at least there was nothing smutty in it (except maybe that stupid song, "Reproduction").

When we returned from the theater, my mother asked how it was, "Well, you know, sequels are never as good as the originals.." he said in his Norwegian stained English. I felt sick to my stomach. Sick that I participated in a lie, sick that my father did it so non-chalantly.

I was also wracked by this guilt during my screening, though PORKY's was so vivid I did forget my discomfort. If you haven't seen it, it's a low budget, Florida-shot teens-on-the-make comedy that is set in the 1950s in small town America. We follow a group of guys who look way too old to be in high school as they engage in various hijinks, the centerpiece of which is spying on the girls as they shower. This is the big scene, the moment every horny pre- and post-pubescent Y chromosome was waiting for. A lengthy scene of totally nude girls (also looking too old to be in hs) giggling. They discover their Peeping Toms and get a little revenge. The worst of it is for one unfortunate guy who places his private in a peephole where the dreaded coach Ms. Balbricker finds it. There's also a character called Lassie (Kim Cattrall, way before her libidinous turn on the Sex and the City television program and films), who has a big "howling" scene.

PORKY's was the talk of my junior high school, as I'm sure it was of many others across the land. Breathless boys at lunchroom tables, re-enacting the exploits of characters named Meat and Pee-Wee. It was a minor phenom, much like ANIMAL HOUSE was a few years earlier. Canadian Bob Clark, a veteran of both exploitation and more mainstream fare, directed this mess. Incredibly, he also directed the beloved A CHRISTMAS STORY. I have to give Clark some points for being able to pull off 2 such dissimiliar pictures. The lasciviousness of PORKY's is, of course, nowhere to be seen in the holiday fave.

I'm not saying PORKY's is any good, mind you, but it is also not the worst of its tasteless lot. Many 80s titles (mostly forgotten) easily outdo it for sheer craptasticism. Clark's film actually tries to be serious at times, addressing racism and self-esteem occasionally. That's admirable, but those scenes don't work. They're heavy handed and preachy, almost as if the filmmakers included such scenes because they felt guilty for the parts that do work-the raunchy gags. As far as vulgar teen films go, the "good parts" are pretty good, but at this late date PORKY's should hold little interest for anyone but curiosity seekers and bad film connoiseurs. There's nostalgia, but that evaporates quickly. There's prurient interest, but (and this is not a recommendation) there are far more comprehsensive things out there if that's what you're looking for.

What am I left with? Nearly 30 years of guilt. Was it worth it? Probably not. I would've seen it on cable a year later, where I would also eventually see the awful sequels. But it makes for a pointed bit of pubescent remembrance. I vowed at that time I would not repeat this regrettable action if I ever had kids. Of course, it's much easier for kids to get their hands on such material now...

3 comments:

Stephen Ley said...

"The lasciviousness of PORKY's is, of course, nowhere to be seen in the holiday fave."

Well now, there was the leg lamp.

redeyespy said...

How did I forget THAT?

I also did a little reading up here...Bob Clark was directing A CHRISTMAS STORY simultaneously with PORKY'S II: THE NEXT DAY, and that infamous lamp was also featured in the latter film.

When the PORKY's gang loses a sword for their Shakespeare production, they use that leg lamp in its place. Nice movie in-joke ref. That's probably the only clever thing in that sequel, which I saw but barely remember. I have no plans to revisit any movie with "Porky's" in its title, matter of fact.

Stephen Ley said...

I confess this review (one it sounds like you needed to get off your chest!) brought back uneasy memories of sneaking a peak at a friend's house who had HBO. I wouldn't want to relive those years for all the tea in China!