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King Frat
(1979)
 

Director:Ken Wiederhorn                     
Cast:
John DiSanti, Dan Chandler, Dan Fitzgerald


Pretty much all of what's to be discussed about King Frat can be found in the opening sequence. Members of the Pi Kappa Delta fraternity travel around, using the official means of travel (a hearse) in That driver reminds me of a character from another movie... and around the Yellowstream University campus. Laughing and drinking beer while speeding around in their hearse, they stick their naked asses out the windows of the vehicle several times to moon joggers and a bicyclist, stopping only once on the property of a very W.A.S.P. rival fraternity to throw beer cans and gesture middle fingers at the ready-for-tennis snots. While all the time, the infectious title song ("King Frat! / King...... Fraaaaaaaaat!.....") plays in the background and cranks up the energy.

In other words, what we have here is a blatant rip-off of Animal House. Further evidence of this comes with Grossout (DiSanti), the driver of the hearse, who looks like a third-rate John Belushi look alike and is saddled with the biggest and grossest gags in the movie. The Deltas live in a trashy home that looks suspiciously like the Delta house in Animal House, and their membership is consisted of a number of different and wildly eccentric characters. And there is also a plot by the dean to throw the members of this fraternity off of the campus. That plot isn't the main focus, though; there is only about ten minutes or so of this movie devoted to that plot, and about that much to another plot about the rivalry the Deltas have with that snotty fraternity.

The rest of the movie, like that opening, is a plotless exercise to try and cram in as much toilet and sex related humor as possible, never mind if any scene has any connection to the previous or the next. The characters in this movie seem The poor man's Animal House - which really says something to only do all this gross stuff because they can. They seem fully conscious that what they are doing is offensive to many; if they were even just slightly unaware of this (like Belushi's character was), it would have been funnier. But, as in the opening sequence, the actors put in a ton of enthusiasm into what their characters do, and there is always a spark of life, some fun in the background of every scene. It almost makes you want to like the movie despite its obvious and heavy-handed nature.

Looking back at the movie, I think it is the actors being that key that makes King Frat watchable. Grossout, DiSanti's character, has an incredible number of scenes where he either belches, urinates, takes a dump, or farts - the last one getting the most use of after he reads The Daily Crock's big headline, BIG FART CONTEST ANNOUNCED. ("Holy s**t! Fart contest!") Yet I'll admit that I've never seen another actor putting so much effort into delivering good farts, and in being careful not to "draw mud" during the big contest scene. As Splash, the token black member of the fraternity (to show that the Deltas may be utter pigs, but not racists), Ray Mann has an infectious laugh and comes across as very likable, even though he doesn't get that much to do, not even getting to stick his bare butt out of the hearse with his buddies. Also somewhat wasted is Dan Chandler as Chief Latrine, a member of the Kissawong Indian tribe that used to live where Yellowstream now is. He does manage to steal the show during his few appearances, especially during his hilarious monologue where he explains to another frat member just how his tribe gave Yellowstream its name.

Besides that moment, there are some other genuinely amusing scenes here and there. And though viewers may cringe a little at how crude the movie gets, All the news that's fit to print they won't cringe from anything that's really stupid. Well, yeah, this is a stupid movie, but I mean the kind of stupid that you frequently find in 80s teen sex comedies, the kind where it seems to have an attitude of, "Har har, aren't we funny?" during an extremely lame moment. There are a number of lame moments in King Frat, but this movies embraces them with a warm fart, making no apologies for its filthy attitude, and not pretending to be more clever than it really is.

I didn't find King Frat good enough to recommend, though - mainly because as watchable and energetic as it is, it isn't that funny. You can only go so far with bathroom humor, and that's what the movie is obsessed about. The idea of a fart contest may sound funny, but after several minutes of seeing contestants stepping up to a microphone and farting in it, any humor that was to be found has long past. Grossout teaching a pledge the secret to drinking large amounts of alcohol each day starts off well, but after several minutes of Grossout showing the pledge the proper way to stick a finger down your throat and the pledge trying hard to follow suit, I started feeling a little nauseous myself. Here and elsewhere, there are times when the movie simply doesn't know when to quit. And sometimes the movie quits too early. A subplot involving an old girlfriend of Grossout trying to get back together with him is never resolved. In the massage parlor sequence, a punchline that has been building up around the new pledge is suddenly unleashed that normally would have consequences looked at afterwards. But when the punchline happens, the scene suddenly ends, and the characters involved are either not seen again, or they don't make any reference to it.

And as I mentioned earlier, there's barely any plot in the movie. Aside from a search of the Delta house midway through the movie, the dean only takes matters into his hands near the end. And though you would expect Grossout teaches that the secret to binge drinking is a well-placed finger in the throat the Deltas to strike back hard, their plan is practically a whimper next to the activities they've been going through previously in the movie. With practically no plot, King Frat is more or less 90 minutes of partying. Ever been to one of those parties where if you went out for a minute or an hour, the same things would be going on when you got back? With this movie, if you step away for any length of time, you will not have missed anything different by whatever time you got back. The question of whether you'd want to attend this party depends greatly on how much you like its activities, and how much of them you can take.


UPDATE: I received this interesting information:

"I was astonished to find out from my old friend and former bass player in "Natural Magic," Ron Tunks, that King Frat was somewhat of a "cult hit" in Australia. 

"My name is Chuck DiModica, and I was the keyboard player and singer in the band for the party scene. 

"When the movie was finally released, I went to see it at a midnight movie showing in Ft. Lauderdale with several friends. Besides the four of us, there were probably 10 other people in the theater not including the usher. (Remember when there were ushers?) 

"When the movie was over, as we were exiting the theater, the usher asked me if I wanted a paper bag for my head. He actually recognized me from the party scene. 

"That was the one and only time I saw the movie. If there is a site for King Frat, please let me know what it is. Would love to see what's happening after all these years. 

"Astonishingly yours, 
Chuck DiModica 
Former Member of "Natural Magic" 

As a matter of fact, there is a web site for this movie! Click this link to take a look.

Check for availability on Amazon (VHS)
Check for availability on Amazon (DVD)

See also: Candy, Hollywood High, I Wonder Who's Killing Her Now

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