Hollywood High

Director:Patrick Wright                           
Marcy Albrecht, Sherry Hardin, Rae Spearling

Hollywood High is a shockingly inept piece of teen sexploitation. Even for a dubious genre like this, this movie reaches a level of badness that would make even the most jaded exploitation filmmakers pause, and subsequently resolve never to reach such a low point. Practically every department in this movie - acting, writing, directing, etc. - is at the very bottom of the barrel. It's the kind of movie that at the very least will assure you that in at least one instance you could have made a better movie than Hollywood ended up making.

Several days earlier, I had watched another 70s teen sex romp titled Gas Pump Girls. Now, though I didn't think it was good enough to give a recommendation to, it wasn't really terrible to watch at all. It did at least have some sort of idea as to how a successful movie of this kind would work. Sure, Gas Pump Girls' objective was to show T&A, but they at least hung these elements around something resembling a plot, involving a teenage girl getting her friends and their boyfriends to help her save her uncle's gas station from the rival business across the street. The characters had some individual personalities, and there was even some character development (when they hire a biker gang to help out, their being given responsibility gets them to clean up their acts and become nice guys.) And it was directed in a lightweight fashion that made the whole proceedings very likable, helping it to make the whole package fairly easy to take, even though it was silly and dumb at the same time.

Hollywood High has none of those things. For starters, it doesn't have anything resembling a plot. I'm serious - though there are one or two extended vignettes, there's no real central story at all. The movie concerns four teenage girls - Jan, Monica, Candy, and Bebe - and their wanderings from place to place where they have sex with their boyfriends, or use their bodies to get something they want, be it answers during a test or favors from a movie star they admire. (Only about five minutes of this movie happens at the title place, by the way.) So instead of there being a plot to hang sex and nudity on, the movie is just concerned with showing various states of undress and sex. If I wanted no shred of plot in a movie, I'd have rented a porno instead. With all the endless scenes back-to-back of characters fooling around sexually in this movie, it gets boring pretty quickly, no matter how horny you are. The scenes are not just endless in their quantity, but how they play out as well. When the women wrestle around in the surf, it goes on for several minutes. When they four women dance around with their boyfriends, it goes on for several minutes. When all eight get on a blanket and make out, it goes on for several minutes. When they get into a food fight with other patrons at a pizzeria, it goes on for several minutes. Such scenes only make apparent that there's nothing really happening at all, with "action" such as this being a desperate attempt to cover the fact up.

To make matters worse is the way these scenes are directed. The cameraman uses a hand-held camera and joins the fray, jiggling the camera around and frequently shooting the actors from the waist down, or showing a tangle of limbs when they are in something resembling an orgy. The closest the director gets into any kind of style is when he rips off A Hard Day's Night and has the characters (who are running on a beach) suddenly appearing in a very green park full of trees, in fast motion, and hiding behind a tree and peeking their heads out. Besides this scene, the direction only leaves us to wonder about things like why the director felt a restaurant would keep spaghetti sauce in garbage cans, though only when the camera isn't looking into the sun and blinding us, or the lens not obscured by drops of water for minutes on end on the camera lens. This bad camerawork makes me also want to advise those prone to seasickness to take Dramamine should they want to brave this movie's waters.

You have to wonder if the director simply gave up from the start. I'd surely be tempted to if I was given this project to helm. There really isn't anything to work on here. The characters? All four girls are completely the same, totally obsessed by sex and showing no intelligence or humanity of any kind. They really just seem to live completely and only for sex. Near the end of the film, when one of the four sex-starved girls comments that she'll do one of her friends if she doesn't get some action from her boyfriend soon, it doesn't come across as a joke, even though it was probably intended as one. Three of the boyfriends are indistinguishable from each other, with not even the fat character given stereotypical behavior of someone of his weight. There is a feeble attempt with the fourth boyfriend to make some kind of character. He is named "Fenzi", and he is obviously supposed to be some kind of parody of Fonzi from Happy Days. But his character is given nothing to do but say the occasional line like, "Fenz needs another beer!" and "Fenzi's chicks screwing off! Ayyyyyy!" The only real attempt to satirize Fonzi is when Fenzi bike turns out not to be a motorbike but a bicycle - curiously, the same kind of gag that was used in Hey! There Are Naked Bodies On My TV!

I question if any young people renting this today will get this "Fenzi" joke. Maybe, but there are several other 70s references in this movie that not only date this movie, but will leave them scratching their heads. I know about Frasier the lion, but I doubt anyone my age or younger does. I am certain, however, that even those in their teen years will find the level of humor in this movie as unfunny as I found it. Come on, do you really think teenagers will laugh at a French teacher with the name "Miss Crotch"? Or laugh at one of the girls drinking beer after beer, especially since the beer spilled in the scene is obviously water? Though adults will see that the "June East" character is a Mae West-type actress, even they they won't be laughing at lines like, "Why don't you come down and see me sometime?"

The only relief that came during this movie was when the soundtrack decided to play a song. Believe it or not, the anonymous singers and musicians hired to make the songs actually came up with some tunes that, while no masterpieces, are genuinely pleasant to listen to. You'd have to go through the entire movie to listen to them all, and believe me, it's not worth it. But do you know what's the most shocking thing about Hollywood High? It's the fact that four years later, a sequel came out. That means that somehow, this movie made enough money to get this sequel made. Though my research on this sequel shows that the actors and the director have changed, I somehow have the feeling nothing improved. Yet at the same time, I'm curious. So if anyone has seen this sequel, please e-mail me and tell me about it so I won't possibly be put through the kind of thing Pandora went through.

Check for availaiblity on Amazon (VHS)

See also: Hot Chili, Hot Resort, Leader Of The Band