Color, 1986, 91m.
Directed by Steve Carver
Starring Scott Strader, Perry Lang, Mariska Hargitay, Richard Roundtree, Don Gibb, R.G. Armstrong, Christopher Lee, Tom Shadyac, Stoney Jackson, Adam Mills, Trinidad Silva
Color, 1976, 82m.
Directed by Gus Trikonis
Starring Warren Stevens, Jillian Kesner, Janice Heiden, June Fairchild
Code Red (US R0 NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)
Marketed as one of the many, many T&A teen comedies made in the '80s after the success of Porky's, the 1986 drive-in and cable TV regular Jocks sports one of the weirdest pedigrees of its era. After all, any goofball comedy featuring Christopher Lee, Richard "Shaft" Roundtree, and future Law & Order: SVU star Mariska Hargitay has to be interesting, and the avalanche of '80s music and fashion ensures a fun time if you know what you're in for.
At sunny L.A. College, the sword-swinging President White (Lee) is more than a little peeved with the performance of the school's tennis team and the rapidly shrinking athletic coffers. He demands they win the next big tournament in Las Vegas or suffer the consequences, including the jobs of their benevolent Coach Williams (Roundtree). The toupeed athletic director (Armstrong) has his own agenda as well, but what it all really comes down to is the scrappy bunch of tennis players including The Kid (Strader), preppy Jeff (Lang, also in Code Red's The Girl Next Door), Michael Jackson wannabe Andy (Jackson), earthy boy Tex (Mills), fast-hustling Chito (Silva), and the wild, wild Ripper (Revenge of the Nerds' Gibb). When they hit Vegas, their big opponents at Dallas Tech engage them in a dirty battle of wits involving a butch lesbian bar, a casino-hopping transvestite, a crash into a beer truck, strip clubs, gambling, a sweet tennis groupie (Hargitay), and a big final match where anything goes.
One of the most enduring '80s Crown International titles (perhaps second only to the holy trinity of My Tutor, Tomboy, and My Chauffeur), Jocks has been popping up with regularity throughout the home video era including a DVD from BCI/Eclipse and appearances lodged among some brutally edited titles in a Mill Creek teen pack and "School Dazed" collection. Honestly its popularity is a little perplexing considering there's actually not much real nudity in the film (just a few brief topless bits while the boys are out carousing), and more dated gay panic jokes than the entire Police Academy series. If you approach it as a time capsule, though, it works like a charm, particularly thanks to old pro Roundtree and the lively Gibb, whose maniacal energy manages to keep the film hopping during what might have been an otherwise boring tennis climax.
The Code Red edition comes packaged as a double feature under their "Maria's B Movie Mayhem" line, with hostess Maria Kanellis cheerfully offering wraparounds in a skimpy tennis outfit. The anamorphic transfer looks comparable to the already nice remastered version seen since the BCI release; the print is colorful and generally clean with a little retro debris popping up now and then for cinematic texture. The big extra here is an audio commentary with Kanellis and director Steve Carver, the drive-in vet behind such films as Lone Wolf McQuade, An Eye for an Eye, Big Bad Mama, and Capone. He isn't much of a fan of the script (written by real-life tennis players) and talks about how he was forbidden from changing any of it, which proved to be a challenge. He had to call in a lot of favors to get the unusual cast and crew, not to mention finding cinematic ways to tell a story about a sport he finds visually "boring." Also included are trailers for Devils Three, The Babysitter, and Weekend Pass.
The second film in this double feature jumps back a few years to 1976's Classroom Teachers, the '80s reissue title for a lightweight little number originally released as The Student Body. Basically what we have here is an almost exact duplicate of the tried and true Roger Corman formula found in all those '70s nurse and student movies. Yep, here we have three young females in sexy trouble, this time minor criminals offered early parole if they agree to participate in a psychological college study for Dr. Blalock (TV staple Stevens) that actually turns them into pharmaceutical guinea pigs. Carrie (Kesner), Mitzi (Fairchild), and Chicago (Heiden) are quickly affected by the proceedings, with instant changes in their sexual aggression, intellect, and, er, affinity for penguins.
Like Jocks, this one isn't remotely as heavy on the sex as you might imagine; however, there is enough skin and mayhem to make '70s drive-in fans happy, and it's always nice to see another vehicle for Kesner, the topless fireball from one of the looniest kung fu cash-ins of the decade, Firecracker. Hieden (Doc Savage, Man of Bronze) and the sunny Fairchild (Thunderbolt and Lightfoot) more than keep up their end, too, playing the mild comedy and thrills for all they're worth. An amusing time waster, this was originally released on VHS under this title along with some gray market DVDs under both names; the Code Red transfer is a major improvement once you get past the opening credits, which look like they've been dragged over a gravel road. The bulk of the film looks much clearer and more colorful than past video editions, taken from a print in mostly solid condition. If you're looking for a double dose of cheerful cinematic trash, this should more than fit the bill.