“Now, no more shenanigans!”
Could this movie really exist? There certainly could never have actually been a day that you could see it and its legendary strip football finale at a legitimate movie theater. Is it really possible to be nostalgic for a movie you’ve never seen much less one with a shot of the ground’s view of an all topless female huddle? Is there such a thing as an innocent shower scene?
I grew up on the cusp of the pop media explosion. The VCR was in its nascency. Cable television much less pay cable television was a few years away and if you really wanted to see an older movie you had to hope for a broadcast television miracle. If that movie, was an unapologetic sex farce with tons of nudity on display then you were flat out of luck. In my day, the first R rated movie that you managed to con your way into was almost as big of a day as getting your driver’s licence. You try and tell that to today’s twelve year olds who have seen every episode of HBO’s G String Divas and they will roll their eyes at you, but back then we’d actually get out of the house, drive to a theater, pay hard earned cash money, and sit through two hours of anything just on the offhand chance that we’d get to see something racy. The first deviant movie I ever made my way into was Porky’s. What an achievement! Sure at fifteen I could probably make out a fairly solid argument for the satirical value of Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life but you can bet that every time I saw it I was besides myself desperately waiting to see the scene where that guy gets chased off the end of a cliff by a spirited crew of topless roller skating co-eds. Those were the days where you were too young to lie about having sex so you lied about having seen the movie H.O.T.S.
I walked into a video store not sure whether I truly wanted to ruin this idyllic piece of my adolescence by actually seeing the movie. I mean how could it possibly live up to its advance reputation especially given the fact that I’d been exposed to so much in the mean time and despite my best prayers and efforts to the contrary you are never really quite able to keep yourself wired like you were when you were fifteen. This video store had a huge big screen and on this day they were showing Krush Groove, and instantly I found myself filled with this overwhelming sense of nostalgia for the Beastie Boys. Wow. What a strange time to have grown up. Is this what I get to reminisce to my grandchildren about. Non cynical soft core porn, real breasts and the Beastie Boys?
There were people who thought the world was coming to an end when the Beastie Boys first hit the scene and now they are forever locked in my mind as a quaint reminder of yesteryear. Did I get gypped or should I just revel in the non stop evolution of in your face crass entertainment. Nowadays Johnny Rotten treats people with the same utter disdain and lack of respect that he always did, but he’s three times less scary as any rapper and people feel an almost palpable sense of glee to be fortunate enough to be within spitting distance of him. Is nothing ever truly dangerous? Non cynical soft core porn, real breasts, and the Beastie Boys. It’s hardly Elvis or the Beatles but I suppose I have to face the fact that it’s the hand I was dealt and do my best to keep people from knowing how many times I have seen the Sensuous Nurse with Ursula Andress.
The success of Animal House probably had a lot to do with H.O.T.S. getting made, but somehow it has a lot more in common with those Kurt Russell, Joe Flynn collegiate Disney comedies. Are those hard to watch today? Yes, but I have a feeling people probably remember them now as indicative of an easier more innocent time. H.O.T.S. is essentially the same movie if all the girls wore tight t-shirts and running shorts except for the times that they don’t even wear that. In both movies you are probably going to get to see a mascot stolen, but at least after seeing this one you can claim to have seen ten or twenty more topless women over the course of your life, which was huge for a fifteen year old in the early eighties. Ask yourself, which movie studio really thought its audience was filled with morons. Disney, who thought they were putting together timeless youth comedy, or Great American Dream Machine who had to come up with 90 minutes of plot so they could surreptitiously make a movie where you could see girls playing topless football. When you were fifteen these guys were nothing less than heroic, and at the end of the day its clothed action what there is of it is no worse than anything Alan Carr was peddling in the late Seventies.
Many people wonder over the course of the film what the acronym H.O.T.S stands for. The girls say it has something to do with helping seals, but I like the guy who thinks it means Hung Outrageously To Satisfy. Then again I thought it would have been cool if KISS had really stood for Knights in Satan’s Service and was even a little amused by the notion that WASP might have stood for We Are Sexually Perverted. It’s all just sadly reminiscent of a time where the line was drawn in a slightly different place in the sand than it is today. It’s like a balloon that keeps on getting bigger and bigger despite millions of religious zealots who are convinced that it is about to burst with disastrous consequences. Either way I find it a fascinating struggle to watch.
H.O.T.S.’s plot once you get past that huge oxymoron is essentially a female version of Revenge of the Nerds. Only in this movie the nerd sorority girls are well endowed, cheerful, and they put out. If you compare the two movies, it tells you a lot about the times that they were made. The Carter Era H.O.T.S. has like a hundred times as much nudity as the struggling to stay chaste backlashing Reagan Era Nerds. Of course, now it’s the Bill Clinton era and everything goes. I went to college in 1984, and back then that argument never would have flown in history class, but today I have a feeling it would zing by unnoticed. God I’m jealous that kids these days can major in Madonna, MTV, and gay role models in the straight cinema! I like to think I helped make it happen.
H.O.T.S. of course takes place in a Bizarro world where everybody is stupid and Danny Bonaduce is a rock star. Admittedly that doesn’t sound promising, but I’ve read enough about the life and times of Bonaduce to know that everything he was involved in was at least as fun as it was embarrassing. Chances are it was so much fun that it made the embarrassment worthwhile.
Number One on my list to suggest it is the sorority Angle. The sorority full of hot girls fantasy is right up there with the Catholic High School Girl model in most male minds. Hanging with a hot sorority is second in the male mind only to being able to actually be in a hot sorority. We’re just wired that way. If men and women all exchanged bodies, I have a feeling that there would be just as many wars, but that it would be even harder to get the hundreds of millions of lesbians to pay attention. Linda Ronstadt hates Howard Stern for his view of women, but she misses completely the fact that he is dying to be one. Revenge of the Nerds gets point for resonating with a bit of the reality of the caste warfare that takes place in college. H.O.T.S. is merely how every guy wanted the reality of that caste warfare to be.
Let me stress the following. There is a shower scene in the first 20 seconds of H.O.T.S. but it’s not creepy like it was in Carrie. In its wake comes two keystone gangsters in search of a money stash, nude pie fights, bath tub moonshine, car chases, nude skydiving, a fat opera chick falling in the pool, extra hot sauce in the chili, nude bathing with seals, a token fat chick who isn’t allowed to sunbathe in a bikini, a token nerd, dueling prank sorority hi-jinx, putting out on the first date, muscle cars, jock strap raids, forty year old balding fraternity members with hairy backs, boyfriend stealing, drunken bears, blackmailing of the frustrated Dean, a wet T-shirt contest, disco, slapping, girl fights, beach bon fires, itching powder, jerk poisoning, hot air balloons, bald naked chicks, lots of bad broadly stereotyping acting, and of course the legendary strip football game, which is almost as amazing in real life as it was in my imagination and for some reason is refereed by the Dean. Are they playing touch or tackle? Who can tell? How about those four yard punts!
It may not be anything to be proud of but it sure is amusing that it exists. Hurray for movies where you can’t remember a single characters name thirty seconds after it ends even if you’re spotted the first letter. Some day someone will make an intelligent, biting, angry age defining teen sex romp full of gratuitous nudity, until then all we can do is keep watching every fruitless attempt put to celluloid in vain hope that the genre’s Welles is out there somewhere comforted only by the fact that when we die we’ll at least be able to say that we saw another ten or twenty more women topless over the course of our hard, cold lives.
Moronic but harmless! Maybe if Tom Green shows it to Drew Barrymore we can all enjoy a modern remake someday soon.