This was supposed to be a parody of horror movies - one of the inevitable "Airplane" rip-offs, like "Young Doctors in Love" and "Saturday the 14th". But one performance turns this from your typical lame-ass parody flick into comedic genius. And that, my friends is the performance of the man known only as "The Stick".This is a tale of obsession. When I was 16 years old, a guy named Tobin Valcour told me about this movie that he watched late one night on Spring Break. He told this story simply, giving away a few of the good jokes, and also added that in reality, it wasn't all that good, but it contained a certain charm that was irresistable to lovers of terrible movies. And that was all it took. Finding "Student Bodies" became my obsession.
"A relic from an era we will never see again. Wonderfully bad."
For three years, I searched high and low for this film. I would tell the story to my friends, and they would search for it as well. The legend grew. And one day....we found it. In a run-down, locally owned video store, and the copy they had looked like it hadn't been rented in years. Our quest...was at an end.
So we watched it, and we all came to the conclusion that it sucked, aside from a few good bits. Of course, with a level of hype that had been building up about this movie amongst this circle of friends, anything less than the "Citizen Kane" of horror parody movies would have been a letdown. We returned the movie, joked about it for a few days, and then, it disappeared from our memories. But then a curious thing happened...
Quotes from the movie began to seep into our everyday conversations. We began to appreciate "Student Bodies" for what it is: A really stupid movie with some damn good lines and one phenomenal performance from an actor who never had another role. The legend began again, albeit in a new form. And now, the movie still sucks, but we've learned to love "Student Bodies" despite its sucking. Or perhaps because of it.
Student Bodies opens on a dark night, on Jamie Lee Curtis' birthday, which also happens to fall on Friday the 13th and Halloween. Ha ha ha. A young babysitter begins getting obscene calls, to the point where the phone starts drooling. Her boyfriend comes over, and before they get it on, she insists he shower, despite his claims that "you can't wash off herpes!" We see the door accidentally left unlocked (the film handily points this out for us, via an arrow and a caption saying "Door Left Unlocked") and a mysterious figure enters. He is wearing boots, and as he climbs the stairs, we hear him mutter to himself "Why am I wearing boots this heavy? Ohhh, I just stepped in gum....why is this staircase so long?" He looks over his potential murder weapons and selects....paper clips.
Does this sound funny to you? Well, I hope so, because this is the funniest sequence in the movie. It's all downhill from there, quite literally. The movie TRIES really hard to be funny, but it ain't, despite a running death count in the lower right-hand corner of the screen, and a flagrant attempt to get an R-rating, for movies with R-ratings make more money. It just doesn't work. You can practically smell the flop sweat. With one exception. Yes, friends, it is time to discuss "The Stick".
"The Stick", and yes, that's how he's billed in the closing credits, plays a character by the name of Malvert, who is the school janitor. I will not describe what the film has Malvert do, or how he does it, suffice it to say, that I wake up screaming at night, bemoaning the fact that Harrison Ford has a career and "The Stick" does not. His performance is THAT GOOD. And his final line ("How absurd") still lives on in the pantheon of great movie lines, next to "Fuck me Jesus fuck me fuck me" from "The Exorcist" and "Hello, I'm your new landlord" from "Every single porno movie ever made".
The acting is amateurish, the direction is non-existent, as is the writing, the jokes fall flat, and despite a strong performance by Richard Brando (no relation to Marlon, I'm wagering) as "The Breather", this movie pretty well sucks. But I'm recommending it. Why, you say?
Because it made me laugh. Because it represents a kind of movie that they just don't make anymore. It was released by Paramount, it had a budget, and it looks like genuine effort went into it. This is a movie featuring folks who never starred in another thing after "Student Bodies", and was directed by a guy who never directed another movie again. Maybe some of you will say, "Good, thank God." But for me, when I see this movie, I see folks who were really TRYING to make a funny movie. That they failed miserably is irrelevant. When you see movies today that look like they were written by an automatic script generator and actors who don't really seem to give a fuck as long as they're getting their 20 million, a movie like this reminds you that people were at least trying to make us laugh back then, instead of just letting Robin Williams come up with his own dialogue on the spot and figure "Aw, what the hell. I'm sure the public'll love it". It's like an Ed Wood movie - you wonder how the hell it was ever made, but you're glad it was. They tried, folks. Too bad they didn't succeed in this case. Give 'em points for effort, anyway.They'll never make another movie like "Student Bodies" again, which, to many, is a good thing. But to me, it's just another reason why Hollywood sucks. Nowadays, it takes Jerry Bruckheimer 200 million dollars to make a movie this terrible. And that's just sad.
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originally posted: 11/04/99 15:21:42