Loose Screws (1985)

a.k.a. Screwballs II - Loose Screws (UK)

Rafal Zielinski remakes his raunchy high-school comedy with surprisingly effective results. Severin US R1 DVD.

The Film

Four good-for-nothing students at Beaver High have yet again failed their year, but the principal - keen to be rid of them - offers them a chance to spend the summer at Cockswell Academy where they will be able to finally graduate. Having met the impressively large number of attractive female students at the school, the gang set themselves a scoring system with the target to 'get with' as many of girls as they can during the summer, but the biggest score is reserved for the stunning French teacher Mona Lott - however the school's principal Mr Arsenault has already got his eyes on her...

A quick follow-up to the successful Screwballs (1983), Loose Screws is a virtual remake of the original film, recycling the high school setting, the repeated failed attempts to get with a particular target and even the four main characters, all of whom are all but indentical to those in the original (leading to the amusing although unstated idea that these are the sons of the characters from the first film). There is some variation however that allows a different set of gags, particularly the boarding school setting with its dorms and shared bathrooms.

The storyline does take a quite different approach, using a more continuous narrative and removing the very episodic feel that threatened to turn Screwballs into a sketch show. The characters are improved somewhat with slightly more characterisation of the principal and his home life as well as some of the other students outside of the main four. The gang itself is also improved, particularly the 'geek' and token 'fat one' who could often be quite grating in the first film and although somewhat blander now, are much more watchable. The focus of the film has changed slightly and although still consisting of near endless comedy, it has less purile humour and a focus more on sexy situations which allows the film considerably more on-screen nudity than before (although its American roots are evident in the relative lack of nudity compared to rival European films at the time and the restriction to strictly above-the-waist topless shots).

Director Rafal Zielinski returns and does a solid job although he has toned down the cartoonish approach of the first film for a more straight forward teen-comedy look. The 1980s setting is a wonderful, if unintentional, time capsule with lots of "high technology" on display in the form of video cameras and early computer programmes. Even with the increased nudity in this film, he does seem to miss out on a lot of opportunities for more flesh, with the shots often cutting away quickly or framing breasts just below the screen - a scene with an entire swimming pool of naked girls somehow manages to be completely unrevealing. The rock music is very well suited to the film with some amusing songs, even if a couple of the tracks are re-used slightly too often.

Two actors reprise their roles from the first film - Jason Warren as the 'fat one' and Alan Deveau, all but unrecognisable with sleek hair, as the 'geek'. Lance Van Der Kolk as the posher member of the group is less self-assured than Kent Deuters who played the role in the first film, but it seems rather more appropriate to the part and he convinces as someone who wishes he was a tennis-playing millionaire. There are no big names in the cast but acting is generally strong.

Although lifting the majority of its ideas from the original Screwballs, Loose Screws is a quite different film, ditching the cartoonish, purile comedy of the first film in favourite of a slightly more detailed storyline and softcore sexiness. On its own merits, a silly sexy comedy with lots of cheap laughs, decently produced and with some good acting. Certainly of interest to fans of the original and of raunchy 1980s comedies in general.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? No-one well known.
Directed by anyone interesting? Rafal Zielinski - a Canadian director who also directed the film's final sequel Screwball Hotel (1988) he later worked on the horror thriller Hangman's Curse (2003) and horror comedy Reality Check (2002)
Anyone else involved? Roger Corman - the producer, he made his name directing the classic Fall of the House of Usher (1960).
Any gore or violence? None
Any sex or nudity? Numerous female topless shots.
Who is it for? One for fans of the sexy 1980s comedies.

See Also:
Screwballs (1983) The original film which uses virtually the same script but takes a very cartoonish approach to the comedy.

Visuals Original Aspect Ratio - 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colour
A good looking print with strong colours and detail, some grain in a few scenes.
Audio English mono - sounds good.
Subtitles None
Extras The disc includes:
  • Audio commentary with director Rafal Zielinski discussing the making of the film.
  • Interviews with:
    • Producer Maurice Smith - 10 minutes
    • Production manager Ken Gord - 5 minutes
  • International version - a VHS print of the extended version of the film sold to European distributors. Padded out with ten minutes of scenes, cut for pacing from the main print of the film. The complete print, in English with English language titles. Quality is obviously quite low, although audio is good. It might have been better if the extra scenes were listed or available as a seperate video file as well so they could be viewed quickly rather than having to trawl through the whole print.
Region Region 1 (USA, North America) - NTSC
Other regions? Released in the USA by Buena Vista on a lower quality fullscreen print.
Cuts? Believed to be fully uncut as per the American release, although some padding additional scenes were present on European versions (the full cut of this is also included on the DVD, see notes above). The director has indicated that the shorter cut is his prefered version. The print used is English language.



All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 6th December 2010.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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