• Fraternity Vacation (Scorpion Releasing) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Scorpion Releasing
    Released on: February 4th, 2020.
    Director: James Frawley
    Cast: Tim Robbins, Sheree J. Wilson, Stephen Geoffreys, John Vernon, Max Wright, Kathleen Kinmont, Barbara Crampton
    Year: 1985

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    Fraternity Vacation - Movie Review:

    Ah FRATERNITY VACATION. You were once a staple of cable television and the VHS rental market. Horny 15-year-old boys desperately in need of nudity and some sub-ANIMAL HOUSE hijinks loved you. So in honor of Scorpion Releasing’s lovely new Blu-ray, let us raise a keg to this dearly departed but once beloved genre of the 1980s – the date rapey teen sex comedy.

    It’s spring break in palm beach in the 80s and all of your favorite stock characters have come out to play. We’ve got the geeky virgin, the obnoxious rival frat brothers conveniently divided into two teams (rich Ferrari pricks and the working class bros), a loud and violent conservative prick cop and various female ciphers who are here to take their tops off or be victimized by our horny dudebros. Plot, you say? Stephen Geofferys (FRIGHT NIGHT) is Wendell the nerd. His Iowa frat brothers are on a vacation in Palm Springs on his parents’ dime. Wendell’s father is willing to let the brothers use his condo for free if they can get sonny laid. The frat brothers - Joe (Cameron Dye) and Mother (Tim Robbins in an early role) are opposed by obnoxious rich kid Charles 'Chas' Lawlor III (Leigh McCloskey, Argento’s INFERNO) and J.C. (Matt McCoy, THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE). The rival frat brothers then spend the rest of the movie trying to manipulate innocent girls into sex and basically exhibiting the kind of behavior that would utterly horrify today’s “woke” culture. C’mon. We’re talking about a movie where the central conflict revolves around 4 guys betting $1000 bucks on whether or not they can get a girl into bed using underhanded tactics. The fact that the poor girl is played by the gorgeous Sheree J. Wilson who actually has both acting chops AND manages to convey sympathy despite a poorly written blank of a character doesn’t help. You feel bad for her. CANCELED!

    Of course, most everything is derivative about FRATERNITY VACATION so let’s cut it some slack. It’s a mix of ANIMAL HOUSE, PORKYS and REVENGE OF THE NERDS. The sexual politics are Neanderthal, the stunt casting obvious (look - it’s the Dean from ANIMAL HOUSE playing a crazy mean sheriff!) and the plot paper thin. So why is it kind of fun?

    The acting! Geoffreys is genuinely likable and even though he got stuck playing the same kind of character here as in FRIGHT NIGHT he’s a hoot. The man had a gift for physical comedy. Robbins is a bit of a revelation here as a young actor. He went on to become a bit of a celebrity due to his highly publicized relationship with Susan Sarandon and being kind of serious and full of himself, but as a young man, he had great screen energy and a natural feel for comedy. McCloskey is a total hoot as Chas. Good looking in that cheesy way that just screams 1980's, he’s riffing on the young James Spader feathered hair and pink-shirted country club vibe. Wilson is both gorgeous and sympathetic. The gags - like a faked suicide attempt and the obligatory property damage (a car goes into a pool during a fancy mansion party) are staged well and amusing. Vernon is completely over the top and broad as Hell as the Sheriff but shows once again why he was one of the most reliable character actors around for decades. Amanda Bearse also shows up so you get a bit of a FRIGHT NIGHT mini reunion, and hey, Barbara Crampton too.

    Fraternity Vacation - Blu-ray Review:

    Scorpion has probably given us the best looking presentation of this film that we’re likely to ever get. The AVC encoded 1080p high definition 1.78:1 transfer looks like it probably came from an older master so you won’t be blown away by color or detail. That said, everything looks natural and without digital manipulation. This is a huge upgrade from previous home video versions and the basics are solid. Flesh tones look good and aside from a few minor scratches the print is in good shape.

    Audio is handled by a robust but limited 2.0 DTS-HD MA track that handles all the basics well. The synth score is often irritating but sounds perfectly acceptable. The soundtrack selections? I hope you like BANANARAMA....

    Extras? Just a theatrical trailer, bro.

    Fraternity Vacation - The Final Word:

    FRATERNITY VACATION was clearly made by quick change artists out to score a fast buck on a genre that was fairly thin gruel to begin with. This also definitely isn’t one for the politically correct or Jezebel reading crowd. It’s so un-woke you could call it comatose. But despite being as dumb as a wet paper bag full of hammers, it is intermittently amusing. Cautiously recommended for those who want a trip in a fun, brain-dead time machine. Scorpion’s release certainly won’t win any technical awards, but they’ve done a fine job of upgrading this relic to the Blu-ray age.

    Click on the images below for full-sized Fraternity Vacation Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Soft spot in my heart for this one.
    1. funkvader's Avatar
      funkvader -
      Tim Robbins is a big Bernie guy. Let's ask him about this one.
    1. VinceP's Avatar
      VinceP -
      Surprised a certain shot wasn't included in the screengrabs.