Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama
Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama probably didn't win any awards, but I think there is one it could definitely compete for: All-Time Best Movie Title. While I lean towards giving that honor to Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death, (come on, that's pure poetry), Sorority Babes could give it a strong run for its money.
(I would add the Troma-rific "Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell" to this list - Ed.)
My first experience with the film, which stars horror royalty Linnea Quigley, Michelle Bauer, Brinke Stevens, Robin Rochelle Stille, and Andras Jones, was thanks to USA Up All Night. That series - and Rhonda Shear and Gilbert Gottfried, who alternated nights hosting - were crucial viewing in my teen years. It ran the kind of movies I'd rarely seen before, one B-movie schlockfest after another, every single weekend. I can directly trace my love of bad movies and exploitation films back to Up All Night. Without it I may have found my way to these films eventually, but with it I was hooked at a young age. And Rhonda? It's as if a teenage boy created her in a lab, Weird Science style: much like Elvira, she was funny, self-deprecating, and clearly dressing to impress hormonal adolescents. Most importantly, she was our guide through the wild world of cult classics.
I distinctly remember this episode of Up All Night, partly because of the film, but mostly because Quigley dropped by to hang out with Rhonda. It was as memorable an evening as you would imagine. After each amazing Rhonda and Linnea interlude, I'd get back to the action at the ol' Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama. The movie's tagline is almost as brilliant as its title:
In a bowling alley from Hell, there's only one way to score...
As a teenager, I spent most of the film's running time hoping "one way to score" had something to do with Linnea. Or Rhonda. Or preferably both. Look, I spent a lot of weekend nights at home, what can I say. When writing about our past, we owe it to ourselves and the world to paint as accurate a picture as possible of those times. I can laugh at that kid's raging hormones now, but it's a simple truth that nothing makes some teen boys happier than bad movies and the scream queens who starred in them - or in Rhonda's case, made goofy jokes about them after every commercial break.
I'm veering off topic here (just blame Rhonda). What's the plot of Sorority Babes, you say? Well, Rhonda summed it up best during her intro that late night in 1991:
Here's a quick overview, anyway: the action begins when some dorky college boys spy on two pledge-babes being initiated into a sorority. The girls' initiation involves some tame paddling of butts, and whip cream. I'll leave the rest to your imagination (or, just look at the image above). The boys get caught by sorority house members, who "punish" them by making them join the nubile pledges on their initiation mission to steal a trophy from a bowling alley. Why do the boys even bother tagging along? The answer lies with their raging hormones and the first two words of the film's title: sorority babes. Duh.
Once inside the mall where the bowling alley's located, the kids run into Spider (Quigley), a biker-punk who's breaking into the bowling alley because, why not? They find the trophy, but unwittingly release Uncle Impie (I'm not making this up), who kind of just looks like a demented gargoyle-puppet. The mischievous, jive-talking hobgoblin (really, I can't make this stuff up) grants them three wishes. Of course, this being an exploitation film featuring horny teenage boys and the uberbabe Michelle Bauer as pledge Lisa, one of those wishes obviously involves turning Lisa into a lustful lingerie model with only one thing on her mind (I'll let you guess what that is). She spends most of the film acting like a cat in heat, the wishes are granted, Impie keeps on being impish, and there's an old, mostly deaf janitor in the bowels of the mall who tells Spider and Calvin (Jones) about the last time Uncle Impie escaped into our world, thirty years ago. There's also lots-o-death, but not much in the way of blood or guts.
It should go without saying, but Quigley is the film's best asset. From the moment she appears, she elevates the movie into cult classic status. Spider becomes our unlikely hero, but one who seems entirely bored by all of the demonic mayhem at the mall. Every line she delivers drips with sarcasm. Spunky Spider and cowering Calvin are adorably mismatched, leading to moments like Calvin asking why she's always so sarcastic, and Spider deadpanning, "It's a way of life!" Quigley is her usual spitfire self, clad in red leggings and sporting gloriously big '80s hair, she spars verbally and physically with everyone that gets in her way. Hell, she even decapitates a zombiefied sorority babe! It's always a pleasure to watch one of the best scream queens in action.
Does Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama live up to its awesome name? Well, it certainly doesn't skimp on sorority babes, and Uncle Impie is a slimeball, but there isn't much bowling alley action - although there's plenty of locker room action with Bauer, if you know what I mean...and I think you do. The film is also too darkly lit - except when it's blatantly highlighting the actresses' cleavage, of course. Still, we do have Quigley turning in a spirited performance and the whole thing is a blast, and beyond silly, as it should be. You don't name your movie Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama and aim for high art. I hadn't seen it since that first viewing on Up All Night in the Year of our Linnea 1991, but it's just as much fun now as it was then. Only thing missing this time out? Rhonda. That's okay though, because the movie's Up All Night episode is archived on Rhonda's YouTube channel:
Apparently, it's the series' most requested episode, which isn't surprising. Not only do Rhonda and Linnea do their thing together, but the first half of the episode finds Rhonda in an educational mood - which for her means retrograde flirting advice, cleavage, a tiny dress, and a mortarboard perched atop her bleached blonde mane. Rhonda 101: higher education never looked so good. All kidding aside, Rhonda did teach viewers one crucial lesson: cult movies rule, and they always will.
So, kick back and stream Up All Night at select intervals while watching Sorority Babes, for the full 1991 experience. Relive your wasted youth. That's my plan!