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.
Title: Spring Fever
Genre: Coming of age/T & A comedy
Tagline: Your big chance to go totally crazy!!
Released by: Vestron Video
Director: Joseph L. Scanian
Plot: K.C. and Missy are two precocious teens caught up in a rivalry at a posh tennis resort during a national champions tournament. Both girls form a friendship and attempt to break away from both the pressure of competition and their protective mothers, Las Vegas showgirl Stevie Castle (Susan Anton) and society snob Celia Berryman (Jessica Walter), who each desperately wants to see their daughter become the new champion.
Thoughts: Just pretend for a minute that it’s around 1983-84 and you’re strolling through the comedy section at your local independently owned video store back in the pre-Blockbuster days. You’re a teenage boy and you want to see a T & A sex comedy so you can get a few cheap laughs and of course a good glimpse at some real live boobies. As you scan past the titles you’ve already seen, like Porky’s, Hardbodies, Joysticks and Spring Break, your eyes suddenly fall upon a brand new cover that promises to have everything you’re looking for in a tittiefest and more. Just take a good look at the box cover art for Spring Fever posted above, with two bikini clad vixens pouring a can of beer over the crotch of a himbo in a speedo on a beautiful beach, and you tell me what you think this flick is all about. I believe that pretty much anyone would anticipate lots of really bad jokes and tons of gratuitous female nudity centered on a possible rich-snobs-versus-the-much-cooler-working-class-slobs scenario. Well, this movie does have the high society against the lower society angle, but in the biggest case of video marketing deceptiveness I’ve ever seen, it’s actually a very mild PG rated tale about a smart-ass thirteen-year-old female tennis hot shot named K.C. (Carling Bassett) who travels from Las Vegas with her super-hot showgirl MILF of a mom (played by the gorgeous bushy blonde haired Amazonian goddess that was the seventies pinup icon, Susan Anton) to a national tennis competition for teenage girls at a beautiful resort in California.
Things get off to a rocky start when the mothers of all the other girls take an immediate dislike to K.C.’s sexy mom, especially the snooty Celia Berryman (Jessica Walter) whose daughter Missy is K.C.’s main rival. But despite their parent’s issues the two girls form a friendship and decide to go out for a wild night on the town which takes them to a male strip club that is raided by the cops. Missy and her coke snorting friend Lena are busted, but K.C. leaves early and avoids the mess.
When it becomes clear that K.C. is the one to beat, the evil Mrs. Berryman makes a terrible accusation that K.C.’s responsible for stealing money from their hotel room, which causes her to be promptly removed from the tournament. But the bond between the girls is too strong and Missy admits it was her who took the money and not K.C. With some lessons in life and sportsmanship learned, the two girls square off in the final level of competition to determine the tournament champ.
Okay, so I never came across this movie during the entire video boom of the eighties and nineties and I worked at a video shop for a few years when I was in college where I thought I’d seen everything ever made up to that point. If I had seen it, I probably would have rented it based on the cover alone, because that’s exactly why I bought it for a quarter at a video shop selling off its VHS stock in the Valley a few months back.
With the feeling of spring in the air, I decided that this movie would be the perfect title to review for this week and I was fully prepared to describe in graphic detail every single exploitive moment for you all to savor, but unfortunately I was duped like every other guy who took the cover art bait on this one. The only brief amount of T & A that exists in this film is courtesy of Susan Anton, who sports a skin tight white dress and no bra in one scene where she takes her daughter to the hotel bar and is immediately picked up on by a handsome journalist who is “persuaded” to write a favorable article about K.C. in the paper, and another scene where she can’t find her pants and is forced to answer the door to a relative stranger wearing a half-shirt and panties.
But that’s about it on the boner front, because the rest of the movie is about two very underage girls and plays like a cheap ass version of Little Darlings with tennis. The acting is bad, the plot is really tired and the occasional “joke” comes off very awkwardly and out of place with the rest of the tone of the movie, which is about 90% drama. For example, one minute there’s a joke about a ball boy’s frozen balls and the next minute Missy’s father has a heart attack and begs her to continue playing in the tournament as he’s taken away by paramedics. What can I say, there’s one born every minute.