Summer camp hijinks and assorted frivolity run rampant in GORP, American International Pictures’ (AIP’s) gonzo contribution to the cycle of comedies attempting to ape the success of NATIONAL LAMPOON’S ANIMAL HOUSE and MEATBALLS. Co-produced by Sam Arkoff’s son Lou, this was the last film released by AIP before the merger that led the company to be called Filmways Pictures.
At the “Jewish” children’s summer spot known as Camp Oskemo, a crop of college-age male waiters has been bused in to work for the season, along with the cute female counselors, there for the flirting. The waiters are led by Kavell (Michael Lembeck, THE IN-LAWS) and Bergman (Philip Casnoff, MESSAGE FROM SPACE) who have sort of a friendly rivalry as they’re always at each other’s throats, as they both strive to score with the same girl who swears she’s not giving in to their unwanted attentions. The camp is owned by Walrus Wallman (David Huddleston, BLAZING SADDLES) a bear of a man who dislikes everyone and is constantly butting heads with his young wait staff, fining them whenever they get into any kind of mischief or break the rules. And the antics don’t stop as these guys (when they’re not serving gross-looking meals to rowdy kids) are busy having kitchen hockey games (using brooms and mops for sticks and burnt spam for a puck), infiltrating the Walrus’ bedroom with excreting farm animals, screening a black & white porno movie to an audience of visiting parents, causing a food fight after the staff accidentally overdoses on speed (possibly inspired by a similar scene in REVENGE OF THE CHEERLEADERS), and of course raiding the girls’ bunkhouse after hours.
GORP – the title, which may not make any sense to you but at least it makes it sounds like a comedy (in actuality, it refers to trail mix) – is another R rated comedy that never hides the fact that it’s imitating better films, delivering a crude, plotless oddity that’s all over the place. The film is full of four letter words, adolescents that spend too much time on the bowl or masturbating in odd places, females who are either saving their virginity or giving it away to almost everyone, and zoned out kitchen staffers who do such nauseating stuff as sneezing in a giant salad and serving an omelette after it has dropped on the floor. This is cookie cutter cinema, with so much over-the-top nonsense and preposterously surrealistic incidents going on at times that it almost comes off as a send-up (ala the Zucker brothers, but not nearly as funny) of the genre it’s ripping off. The boys’ bunkhouse of course looks more like a frat house, and all the stereotypical characters are in check, including assorted four-eyed nerds (one who resembles a red-headed Eddie Deezen, overweight guys who are always holding candy bars (one called “Fat Solowitz” played Jim Greenleaf, JOYSTICKS), easily annoyed muscle-headed jocks, an acne sufferer whose face looked like it was doused in acid, and other nut-jobs (with names like Batshit and Newburg Lobster), including a military-obsessed wacko appropriately called Mad Grossman (a baby-faced Dennis Quad, who had already done BREAKING AWAY, so one has to wonder) who also plays with explosives and an armored tank. Nobody is looking for deep characterization in the least here, but you can be guaranteed that there’s nothing of the sort in GORP, or even anybody likable that you might choose to root for – Lembeck’s Cavell comes closest, but even he’s too foul-mouthed, arrogant and annoying to garnish such humble identifying with (Lembeck and Casnoff were over 30 at the time, ironically not much younger than the weasel “adult” sidekick of Walrus Wallman, played by Lou Wagner, Lucius of PLANET OF APES).
Although full of four-letter words and naughty innuendo, GORP never explores sexuality in the way the comedies of this era did (something that made them memorable and re-watchable), with the female nudity limited to the fleeting bits shown in the fabricated adult movie being projected. There’s a lack of much-needed T&A, and this is a movie which features Debi Richter for cryin’ out loud (did you ever see her in HOT MOVES?!). Years before becoming a household name, Fran Drescher (who was in the ANIMAL HOUSE rip-off, HOLLYWOOD NIGHTS, the same year) appears as Evie, a promiscuous type (it is implied that she makes love with the two leads in the woods and she also seduced the resident rabbi, played by Robert Trebor, MY DEMON LOVER) and declares, “I’m Evie Bennett, and I do f&*k” (Drescher’s husband – now ex – Peter Marc Jacobson, appears as the very nerdy Steinberg). Rosanna Arquette (8 MILLION WAYS TO DIE) gets an “introducing” credit (even though she had already done plenty of TV and at least one feature) as another nice Jewish girl named Judy, who finds romance with a less-than-sincere Puerto Rican boy (Richard Beauchamp, DEADLY FORCE) in a subplot that goes nowhere (and she pretty much disappears before the end of the movie). The kitchen staff (which looks like an insane asylum) is full of familiar faces including Julius Harris (LIVE AND LET DIE) as Fred the Chef, ANIMAL HOUSE’s Otis Day (aka DeWayne Arthur Jessie) as his flamboyant assistant Sweet Moe, veteran character actor Rudy Diaz (COOGAN’S BLUFF) as Indian Joe, and 1980s TV comedian Bill Kirchenbauer (“Growing Pains”, “Just The Ten of Us”) as Wino Willie. Director Joseph Ruben had previously helmed THE POM POM GIRLS and JOYRIDE (for AIP), and would go on to such mainstream fare as DREAMSCAPE, TRUE BELIEVER and SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY (he would also helm the cult thriller THE STEPFATHER).
As this is the last film released by AIP, it pays tribute not only by casting Michael Lembeck (his father, Harvey was “Eric Von Zipper” in the “Beach Party” series), but by showing a clip from I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF (the part where the monster attacks the female in the school gymnasium), seen when the campgoers are being thrilled to a projected movie (Grossman than dressed up like a werewolf for a gag, but another character is always dressed like Dracula for some unexplained reason). However the clip was processed when the GORP was produced, it looks great here in full 1080p, giving us an idea of what a TEENAGE WEREWOLF Blu-ray would look like, if that ever happens in our lifetimes.
When first released on VHS in 1990 from Star Classics, at least one soundtrack song was removed due to music rights issued. Any such issues have since been resolved with Kino’s new Blu-ray release (also being presented on standard DVD for the first time), which presents the film in 1080p HD in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. As expected, this is another terrific-looking transfer of an AIP film from Kino, with excellent detail and great-looking textures. Flesh tones are distinct and colors have punch. Dirt and debris on the source elements are minimal and when filmic grain is on display, it looks quite natural. The English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track is perfectly fine, with clear dialogue, music and effects. There are no subtitle options on the disc.
Producer and screenwriter Jeffrey Konvitz sits down for a fun audio commentary, moderated by Bill Olsen of Code Red DVD. Konvitz explains how the film was produced in the wake of the success of ANIMAL HOUSE, and that he based his script on his real-life experiences of working in a day camp in his younger days. He goes on to reveal that the crew was in hysterics during the shoot and that a lot of things they shot didn’t end up in the final film, that they used multiple cameras to pick up everything that was going on, and that it was shot in an old World War II work camp in Georgia Bill. Also, we learn that the “seduction of the rabbi” scene did not sit well with the suits at Filmways, and that the title “GORP” was actually meant to refer to “Gross, Offensive, Repulsive and Perverted” but that this was never acknowledged in the ad campaign. Sam Arkoff comes up a lot in the conversation, and even though he ripped ten pages out of the shooting script, Konvitz has nothing but good things about him. Early on, Olsen mentions that he called Michael Lembeck to try and get him to talk about the film for this release, but he hung up as soon as its title was mentioned! A trailer gallery includes I’M GONNA GIT YOU SUCKA, UP THE CREEK and THE COUCH TRIP. The trailer for GORP itself – which looked to be copying THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW with its opening featuring a close-up on a woman’s garish red lips introducing the preview – is not present, but it was on Synapse Film’s 42ND STREET FOREVER VOL. 3: EXPLOITATION EXPLOSION DVD. (George R. Reis)
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