Monday, September 25, 2006

Movies: "I think somebody needs a massage."

Last night was one of my girlfriend's late shifts, so, in accordance with the traditions of my people, part of the evening was spent watching B-grade horror flicks. Last night's masterpiece: Werewolf in a Girls' Dormitory.

This movie was simultaneously disappointing and surprisingly good.

First, the disappointment. Any film with the words "Girls' Dormitory" in the title instantly conjures up certain expectations. These include, but are not limited too: skimpy negligee, pillow fights, shower scenes, and at least one pair of "friends" who express their closeness through massages and communal showers. While I understand the constraints placed on filmmakers working in a certain budgetary range, these elements are neither costly nor effects-heavy. Furthermore, they are easily integrated into just about any standard B-movie plot.

See below:

"Shame about Mary. Do you think there are really aliens in those woods?"
"Don't be silly. It's just a story. I think somebody needs a massage."

"Shame about Mary. Do you think there are really zombies in those woods?"
"Don't be silly. It's just a story. I think somebody needs a massage."

"Shame about Mary. Do you think there are really alien zombies in those woods?"
"Don't be silly. It's just a story. I think somebody needs a massage."

It's that simple. However, the director of Werewolf in a Girls' Dormitory, despite the gratuitous use of the word "girls" and "dormitory," included none of these things. His girls, while all quite cute, wear something like OR scrubs made out of old sail canvas to bed. The spend their time in class or investigating the horrific murders of their classmates, instead of focusing on pillow fights, kissing practice, and any other crucial aspects of the all-girl educational experience. Finally, if the makers of this film are to be believed, these girls never bathe. Ever. Sure, there are hints that the girls bathe. Film is a visual medium: show don't tell. You owe it to the viewer.

Now the surprisingly good part: for all its heightened cheese-factor, the film is an enjoyable flick with a dual plot and a mystery-thriller structure that is better than it needed to be (or would have needed to be, if the completely lack of "girl dorm" genre trappings didn't put extra pressure on the film to be entertaining).

This Italian produced flick takes place in a Mediterranean villa in the English mountains. The arrival of a new teacher, Professor Blond Hero, sends the girls into a tizzy, especially a pretty and shy student named Female Lead. The Creepy Groundskeeper leads Hero to the school's main office where he meets Sir Stick-Up-the-Butt, the schools prim and proper headmaster, and his assistant, Icy McFrigida. Hero and Stick talk around Hero's past – he was accused of murder and acquitted for lack of evidence. Stick explains that this school is a place for new beginnings. All the girls have had trouble with the law and are here because the school's benefactors believe they deserve a second chance.

That night, a wayward student named Victima One, heads out into the woods. She crosses the Creepy Groundskeeper, whom she tells to get lost. Eventually, she runs into another teacher from the school, a man by the name of Sir Pedo. It is clear that Victima is blackmailing Pedo. They leave on a unresolved note and Victima heads back to the school. However, as happens in such flicks, she is brutally murdered and left in a shallow stream.

The police, as they can be depended on to do in such cases, declare it the work of a wild animal. However, the curious and headstrong Female Lead is not so sure. She finds evidence that a blackmailing plot was underway, but she doesn’t know who Victima was blackmailing.

Who is the murderer? Hero, with his dark past? The Creepy Groundskeeper, because he's creepy and the groundskeeper, which is really evidence enough in a film like this? Pedo, the only guy with a motive? Can the Female Lead trust Professor Blond Hero and, perhaps more importantly, isn't the obvious chemistry between creepy given she's supposed to be his student?

Eventually both bodies and contrivances pile up. The werewolf plot and murder mystery run side by side, with the characters bouncing back and forth between the two, unable at first to distinguish the main plot from the subplot.

All in all, a good time despite the teasing title. Using the ever popular Champions of the Moorilla Hobart International film ranking system, I'd give this flicker three Alicia Moliks and one Mana Endo.


Anonymous said...

I come a wanderin' over here via the Final Girl blog.
I read most of your entries, which were very entertaining, but was specifically compelled to comment about the "Champions of the Moorilla Hobart International film ranking system," and "three Alicia Moliks and one Mana Endo": man, I'm assuming those are specific references to something cool and weird but it went completely over my head. Didn't matter tho', cuz as pure non-sequitors they cracked me up.
Really glad I checked out your blog, but I just came home from a graveyard shift, so I'm shot.
More comments to come.


Oh. PS.:
Considering your interest in comics and horror, in your travels across the 'net, have you ever seen this guy's work? I think he's hysterical, tho' blatantly offensive, and I actually envy his reckless exuberance for non-stop tastelessness.
He has a number of preview pages you can check out on his site to get a taste of his work. I personally think he's great-- may not be for every taste, or he may get tiresome after a while. But check it out.
(Disclaimer: I get no commission and he ain't related or a friend, I just like his stuff):

Okay, okay, I'm going!

CRwM said...

Thanks for the heads up about Uranus . . . um, you know what I mean.

I never thought film ranking systems made much sense. For people who really like schlock cinema, the description is a better guide to whether you'll dig something or not, right? So, when it comes time to rank a film, I always just make up a system on the spot and use it just for that film. I'm glad you dug the joke.