Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Porky's (1982)

Bob Clark’s PORKY’S was a huge hit when it was released in the UK and around the world back in 1982, thanks in no small part to the then-new phenomenon of home video, plus the no-doubt vast numbers of young men not old enough to get into the cinema to see it, but who were able to sneak it home from the video shop. I certainly remember copies being passed around in school and it became, for one long summer, one of those must-see tapes, mentioned in the same breath as I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE and SS EXPERIMENT CAMP.

PORKY’S is a comedy. A brash, vulgar, comedy that followed in the wake of the success of the similarly-themed NATIONAL LAMPOON’S ANIMAL HOUSE (1978). Whereas ANIMAL HOUSE utilised a college campus for its collection of insane and anarchic set-pieces, PORKY’S has its lead characters younger and still at high school. Whether or not that might have been the reason for its remarkable box-office performance it’s difficult to say, although the timing of its release was probably important too. It remains the most successful Canadian film of all time, and was the movie that really kick-started the trend for similar lowest common denominator teen comedies such as FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH and REVENGE OF THE NERDS.

In 1954 a group of Florida high school friends spend their time playing pranks and attempting to have sex with the local female population. This eventually leads them across the county line to the scary Everglades whorehouse of the title and a run-in with its owner. Their eventual revenge on him and his sheriff brother provides a satisfactory ending for the film, which is otherwise an excuse for Clark to put together as many funny high school stories as he can within the narrative. 

In some ways PORKY’S has a level of humour that isn’t very much above CONFESSIONS OF A WINDOW CLEANER and similar smutty British sex comedies. But, I have to confess, that while trying my best to stay above all the lowbrow humour being trotted out on screen, I found myself crying with laughter on several occasions. I could try and go into why, and the various skills Clark displays with timing and editing, but at the end of the day, PORKY’S just happens to be intermittently very, very funny. What makes it even more special is that in between the moments of hilarity there’s a fair bit of character development and even social commentary that’s rarely seen in the genre
PORKY’S was directed by the same man who gave us horror classics BLACK CHRISTMAS, DEATHDREAM, MURDER BY DECREE and CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS, and while it may seem an odd choice for someone with that kind of pedigree, it should never be forgotten that horror and comedy both tend to bypass the brain and cause you to jump or laugh without you having much control over either. 
Arrow’s Blu-ray looks excellent and is a new digital transfer prepared by Twentieth Century-Fox. Extras include a ported over commentary track from director Clark (who died in 2007) and a short featurette in which he describes how he came to make the film. Skin Classic! is a short piece featuring a gentleman calling himself Mr Skin who explains why he considers the shower scene in PORKY’S to be one of the Ten Best Nude Scenes of All Time. There are trailers for all three PORKY’S films, a booklet, and new cover art.

Arrow Films are releasing Bob Clark's PORKY'S on Blu-ray in both steelbook and standard editions on 16th June 2014

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