Not that long ago the video store was a mundane and sometimes obnoxious part of life; driving over to some lonesome strip mall with your friends or family to comb through the all-too-often disorganized shelves of your local shop, argue over a selection, and then be stuck with it, for good or ill. Yet, it was also sublime. And for those who lived during the true video boom, video stores also equate to another bygone commodity: VHS. When JVC’s Video Home System won the early-80’s format war, the motion picture market changed forever. The genre and B-movies that had previously filled drive-ins across the country now often went straight to VHS. Then DVD took the world by storm in the late-90’s. It was a brave new world, and sadly, many films never made the leap, trapped now on a dead format. These often aren’t “good” films, but goddammit, they were what made video stores great. For we here at CHUD are the kind of people who tended to skip over the main stream titles, our eyes settling on some bizarre, tantalizing cover for a film we’d never even heard of, entranced. These films are what VHS was all about.
Some people are still keeping the VHS flame burning. People like me, whose Facebook page Collecting VHS is a showcase for the lost charms of VHS box artwork. With this column it is my intention to highlight these “lost” films and the only rule I have for myself is that they cannot be available on DVD.
Genre: T & A Sex Comedy
Tagline: Summer camp the way you always wished it was!
Released by: HBO Cannon Video
Director: Joseph Ruben
Plot: Get ready for a wild summer! This plotless comedy concerns the shenanigans of a group of waiters and their exploits with the young ladies at Camp Oskemo for wealthy Jewish kids.
Thoughts: I decided to end the summer with another review of a crazy camp movie from the 80’s. In the past I’ve taken a look at Meatballs III, Summer Camp Nightmare and Oddballs. Having never gone to camp myself, I have a strong love for all films about that subject from this era and there is one that will always be stored in my memory banks as the most outrageous from when I was a teenager. It is the late night cable classic called GORP and I must’ve watched it in my friend’s basement over a dozen times. It lacks the coming-of-age quality of both Meatballs and Little Darlings, putting it into a sillier category alongside Meatballs Part 2 and Summer Camp. In many ways GORP is the attempted Animal House of summer camp comedies, being that it’s rude, crude and totally lewd.
There is almost no plot whatsoever. Just a random series of vignettes strung together with an ensemble of up-and-coming young actors in a style reminiscent of Altman, only without the class. It centers on two waiters (Michael Lembeck and Phillip Casnoff) who will stop at nothing to get laid and cause as big a ruckus as they can every single day. They both get started by banging the camp slut Evie (an incredibly young Fran Drescher), while another C.I.T. gets a little action from a hot young thing named Judy (a baby-faced Rosanna Arquette). There’s a lot of implied sex, but sadly no nudity.
The rest of the “boys” who work at Camp Oskemo as waiters are a bunch of your usual stereotypes: a nerd, a fat guy, a hippie, some tough dudes and one guy who dresses and acts like Dracula for some inexplicable reason. Every actor playing a teenager looks like they are in their late twenties. For some reason there is a weird rivalry between the kitchen staff (a group of older men that look and act like prison cooks) and the waiters. They conduct bizarre sporting competitions against each other which they gamble on.
The film’s humor runs the gamut. There are pranks involving cowshit, a kitchen staff lunatic named Wino Willie who has violent arguments with himself and mixes salad with his feet, pornography shown on parents’ day, a bottle of speed that’s accidently knocked into the pudding, a group masturbation scene in the boy’s cabin, Fran Drescher banging a Rabbi on a bet, an epic food fight, and an attempted roofie-rape. This all culminates into a full-blown battle between the waiters who live on the first floor with the waiters who live on the second floor, that starts off with fireworks, but escalates to heavy artillery when the camp crazy Mad Grossman (Dennis FUCKING Quaid) drives his secret surplus tank through the building because the atomic bomb he made doesn’t work.
GORP was directed by Joseph Ruben, who would move on to a pretty successful career making some cool exploitation movies like: Dreamscape, The Stepfather, Sleeping with the Enemy, The Good Son and Money Train. He obviously got much better as a filmmaker, but I’d say that one of this movie’s strongest qualities is the manic build up of insanity caused by overlapping dialogue (very Robert Altman) and some good editing.
When I saw this movie as a kid, I thought it was one of the funniest things ever. Broad comedy works well on teenage boys. Its humor now relies entirely on post-irony, but that works for me, too. To be honest, the only problem I have with GORP is that I still don’t know what the title is supposed to mean. Is GORP an acronym? Is it slang for something naughty? An inside joke amongst the filmmakers? Does anybody know? The movie provides zero explanation, but if I were to guess, I’d say it refers to the state of mind it creates. I’m all GORP‘ed out.