Rush Week (1989)

Welcome to Rush Week, all you frat boys and sorority girls!  I’m guessing if you are in college, you’re probably charting out which Greek organizations you want to join, based mostly on exactly which houses and which people will help you get a leg up in life later in business, social status, or even politics…

Or you are just judging it based on your class, one of your parent’s memberships, how much beer is in the house’s multiple kegs at any one time, or which house will help you score with the hotness in that sorority with all the hotness.

Maybe you’re like me and never part of a frat or sorority.  You’re living vicariously through movies from the 80s, like Rush Week or Revenge of the Nerds.  Maybe you were in a frat, but a loser one like Revenge of the Nerds.  Or you were part of a sorority, but mostly just, I dunno…  Didn’t do sexy nightie sleepovers or do constant lingerie fashion shows on a nightly basis.  The point I’m trying to make is – I know women.

Hmm.  Anyway, if you’re still in college or about to go into college, please possibly reconsider continuing to read my blog.  I’m not going to make you smarter.  I’m not going to bring you any different point of view on film theory.  Shiiiit.  I can barely explain theory of titties and big blastin’ explosions and stuff.  If anything, this blog will wreck your scholastic career.  So continue at your own risk.

I can say, though, there is more than one way to go Greek.  True story, I had a deficiency in testosterone production about, oh, 10 years ago.  I saw my doctor and he prescribed me a gel LOADED with testosterone that I rubbed onto my shoulder and it would seep in and kickstart my business – if you catch my drift.  Anyway, it also gave me what I call a second puberty.  Think of it like a secondary mutation in X-Men comics.  So it caused me to sprout body hair EVERYWHERE.  It’s comin’ out of my back, even more out of an already hairy chest, ears, nose, butt, everywhere.  Just like a sweaty, Mediterranean man without any of the good stuff like beautiful hair, suave words, or kick ass accent.

Basically, what I’m saying is that without ever rushing a fraternity in my short-lived college career, I still went Greek.

But enough about me, let’s talk Rush Week.  This is a movie about a college reporter, Toni, trying to uncover a story about a fellow student’s death.  As more girls turn up dead, Toni starts getting to the center of the story.  Not to mention, she gets herself closer and closer to the killer.

The movie begins on the campus of Tambers College in California.  The place looks basically deserted, which probably just means that there is no such thing as drinking or partying or drugs or lots of college sex on this campus, no sir-ree! Nah, it’s probably just to set a tone of spooky and darkness and such.  That’s because elsewhere, a frat house, BDB (which if I know my Greek alphabet stands for Bell DeVoe Biv) is throwing a bitchin’ party complete with buckets of beer, a band, and various shenanigans.  It also has a tits out babe dancing for everyone and pulling down dudes’ pants and shit.

Outside, we meet Toni (which if I know my late 80s names was short for Tony Toni Tone)  who is talking to a friend of hers about being a recent transfer.  She’s a journalism student and was assigned a story by the paper’s big cheese, Cosmo Kincaid, and don’t worry, we will 100% get around to Cosmo, to cover Rush Week on campus.  This should tie her over until she discovers a more interesting story to put her investigative instincts to good use.

Alright, so BDB has a reputation for being a bunch of animals.  They were expelled from campus last year, but they are back.  If I am to take their obvious rich boy 80s-ness to heart and main BDB dude, Jeff, as a representative of their values…  They are douches.  Major douches.  But then again, what do I know?  In my short time at college the only house I got invited to was Delta Omega Fuckyourself.  I didn’t realize it was just a very elaborate joke to lure me out to the middle of a football field with half the student body watching for me to get pants’d.

I still don’t even know what the Greek version of the letter F is!

Elsewhere, a blonde with huge tits is posing for a photoshoot with a real creep of a photographer.  The photographer has a client who likes pictures of girls with costumes and, I guess, a morbid flavor.  Despite her protest, he makes her pose with a mannequin that I think is supposed to be a dead body or something.  Whatever.  She gets paid with a $100 bill with an axe stamped on it.  She was followed to the building where the photo shoot was, then, as she gets dressed, the same footsteps go to the room where she is and is revealed to be a hooded dude with an ax.  She gets chopped down.

Now, the ax, is similar, nay, the same as the ax at the BDB house that was used to kick off Rush Week.  I’m sure that is not important to note at all.

The next day, Toni is talking to the president of another frat.  Jeff instantly goes for Toni when he sees her.  He pours on the “charm” hardcore, but, again, he mostly comes off as a turd.  Toni throws up some good defense to stifle this walking hard-on.  When she is interviewing Dean Grail, played by veteran actor Roy Thinnes, they get interrupted by a student reporting her roommate, Julie Ann McGuffin, is miss…

Wait.  That dead girl’s name is McGuffin?

Anyway, during the interview with Toni, Dean Grail (g)rails on BDB House and calls them all sorts of names.  He even says their Hell Night makes a mockery of death.  I’m sure that won’t come back in any way, shape, or form.  Nor the fact that he has a picture of his dead daughter on his desk. He explains to Toni his daughter was a student before she died last year.  Hmmm… The plot thickens!

So then we meet Cosmo Kincaid who is doing some topless meditation with a busty co-ed.

And that is Gregg Allman.  I’d say that it is a really weird piece of casting, but then again, he is full of great life lessons…

BDB House is constantly fucking with another house called GAE (as they call it, “GAY”).  This is the source of about a billion gay jokes in the movie.  Jeff and one of his friends infiltrate a GAE rush event and exchange the frat’s welcoming film with a goofy gay porn parody.  This, of course, not only messes with their rival, but also frees up Toni for the night so she can attend a BDB party and for Jeff to get his douchey hands all over her bod.

Clearly he plans to score her ass at this really rockin’ party with the very on-the-nose song.

When Toni leaves, she tells Jeff that she has something more interesting to check up on than Rush Week – a missing co-ed.  This gives Jeff a chance to show the audience his suspicious look.

Elsewhere in the frat house, the naked meditation babe with Gregg Allman earlier is basically paid to fuck dudes at the house and the house takes money from guys who want to watch.  Now, this is where, without a doubt, and without any possibility for redemption, that I can say that BDB is a gaggle of fuck nuggets.  Jeff’s buddy tells the girl there’s one more guy for her to fuck that’s an old friend of his that hasn’t been laid in ages.  She agrees and they bring in the dude.  She tries to fuck him but he’s limp.  She turns on the light to discover it’s a cadaver from the science department.  She goes screaming and running away with the BDB asshats laugh and high five each other.  Seriously, that is some villain shit there.  That girl will be traumatized for, like, ever.

But, nah, 80s white frat boys…  It’s funny!

Anyway, the girl runs off into the night.  I mean she is booking hard.  Like sprinting!  Miles away from BDB!  Anyway, hooded ax dude catches up to her and he kills her.  I guess she really was traumatized for ever.  Well, as long as forever was for her.

In the Journalism office at the school, Toni struggles to get her footing on the Rush Week story, but when she starts digging around the missing coed story, she receives and anonymous and ominous message to “DROP IT OR ELSE!”  Now, you see the movie wants us to think this is Jeff’s doing.  He previously hacked into her messages and left a poem for Toni.  The next day, during the goofy bike race for Rush Week, he sees Toni leaving her house and gives the audience a nice nefarious expression.

Now, here’s where I need to step aside from the movie and talk about its tone because, as you watch it, it’s all over the damn place.  This reminds me a lot of a movie I did a while back called Cheerleader Camp.  It was this run of the mill slasher flick that also wanted to be a comedy.  It often strayed super far from the slasher element to tell an outright joke.  Not something to de-escalate a sense of dread or suspense, but to actually tell a joke or do something super stupid and goofy.  This movie has the same problem.  The movie can’t seem to figure out exactly if it wants to be this slasher/thriller/mystery or if it wants to have these overly goofy frat house shenanigans.  If the shenanigans were a little darker or if the suspense was a little less dark or serious, this movie is perfectly aligned.  However, when you have frat boy antics and a really, really bizarre Gregg Allman appearance, it’s hard to really accept both those things AND the killer junk.  What kind of holds this thing together is our lead actress playing Toni, Pamela Ludwig.  She’s cute and pulls off the ambitious college girl who isn’t interested in the parties or regular campus life.  Her part of the story is at least engaging if not fairly run of the mill for 80s slasher horror.

Speaking of, Toni has discovered some more information that takes her deeper into the mystery around Julie Ann McGuffin’s disappearance.  Julie Ann has a whole bunch of those ax-marked hondos.  Julie Ann’s roommate explains to Toni how she gets them – she poses for naughty pictures.  She was told of this gig by Alma, the hooker at the BDB house who was axed the night before and also Cosmo’s naked meditation buddy.  Now that Alma is also missing, Toni is growing ever more interested in cracking the case.

Except… Jeff is being a real weirdo about it.  Her friend, Jonelle, knows that the two of them were at that party before Toni had to leave.  She tries to tell Toni about how much Jeff has changed over the course of the last year.  Later that night, Toni gets another threatening message as she continues to work on the missing co-ed story, but Jeff claims he has nothing to do with it.  Jeff tries to make her see that maybe she could be wrong, but she refuses to see it.  It causes him to get weird around one of his frat buddies.  When Toni comes back, he turns back on the charm and invites her out to the country for a picnic.

Byron, the buddy who pulls all the shithead pranks at the frat, tells Toni about Jeff’s girlfriend last year who was murdered during Rush Week.  Turns out his girlfriend was Dean Grail’s daughter.  She was cut up and he found her.  He hasn’t been the same since.  he even goes on these creepy midnight walks.  But you know what?  Fuck all that depressing exposition shit.  It’s time for happy, funtime, romance picnic!

While on their picnic, a rainstorm hits and they get cozy.  When the rain passes, they roast marshmallows and start making out to sexy saxophone music.  Toni claims she is falling in love with Jeff so she wants to know more about Laura Grail, but he’s like, “Yeah, let’s leave.” and he goes back to his room to work on his creepy scrapbook of murder stories from the newspaper.

Now, see?  If we cut out all the goofy frat boy shenanigans, we’d have more time for Jeff and Toni to get close and for her to legitimately have feelings for him.  We could also build more obvious connections with him and the various murders.  Even if he isn’t the killer, you can build a better mystery and you can maybe even see how he is winning over this girl who, not one hour ago in movie time, did not want anything to do with his ego.

While at the camera shop picking up stuff for the paper, she is approached by a guy who works at the cafeteria on campus and asks if she’s ever done any modeling.  He gives her his card and flashes a $100 bill that has the ax stamp on it.  She uses the card to find out his address and sneaks around.  As she finds a lot of the pictures of the girls he’s photographed, he comes home and nearly catches her snooping about.  She is successful in getting out of his house, if not stealthily, but she accidentally dropped her ID.

Toni tells Dean Grail about what she found at the cook’s house.  Grail claims he’s been dismissed, but he will not press charges against him so he can avoid scandal at the school.  He also asserts there is no killer.  He further asserts that Toni needs to stop investigating and just put all this shit behind her.

Jeff invites Toni to the BDB costume party.  She finds out another girl in her dorm has gone missing after meeting someone in the science building where all the girls have been killed.  Toni calls the BDB house to leave a message for Jeff to meet her at the science building.  She calls the cook and sets up a meeting for a photoshoot.  While Toni sets her trap, the BDB costume party is in super full swing with a fucking awesome Count Dracula New Wave band.

Byron finally finds Jeff to give him Toni’s message about being in the science building.  He grabs the ax from BDB and goes to her.  Remember, it’s the ax that was used in all those other murders.  Toni calls campus security, but they don’t take her seriously.  She calls Dean Grail, but he, oddly, is not home, so she leaves a message.  Surely the Dean will see the error in his ways and realize there is indeed a murder and he is, in absolute no way, involved.

Well, that’s a look that screams, “OMG my boyfriend might be a super douchey murder man.”

With everyone in their places, the cook is following Toni in the science building, but gets an ax to the chest.  Back at BDB house, and long story short, Jonelle discovers Jeff’s stash of kooky crazy murder story clippings in his scrapbook.  She tries to send a message to Toni through a computer to tell her that she might, no shit, be in danger.  The ax killer finds Toni, but she’s able to escape the first attempt on her life.  She runs down the halls with the murder man following.

She tries to hide in the furnace room of the building but the murderer is hip to this idea and follows in.  She bashes him on the head to see Jeff.  Naturally, she thinks he’s the killer, but…  Surprise!  TWO AX GUYS!  Of course, the other guy is Dean Grail.  He’s one of these “girls are dirty, dirty things and must be purified with DEAAAAATH!” types of dudes.

You know, your Mike Pence types?

Jeff comes to in time to save Toni and has an ax fight…? with the Dean.  Like they use axes like motherfucking swords.  Eventually, Tony stabs the Dean.  Jeff explains that Laura was the first victim of his murder spree.  She posed for the cook, and the Dean must have been buying pictures from him and when he saw his own daughter’s nudie bits, it BLEW HIS MOTHERFUCKING MIND.  Anyway, the Dean, naturally, is not dead.  But he soon will be because Jeff gets his ax back and…

So BDB House not only had their leader save the day by straight up killing the crotchety, crusty Dean, but the new Dean says he thinks BDB House is the perfect model of frat life on campus.  As soon as he drives away, they go back to partying and scarring hookers by making them fuck dead guys.  YAY!  WHITE BOI FRAT FUCKS WIN!

Of course the movie ends on a 30 minute cat and mouse game with Dean Grail and Toni that concludes with a bitchin’ decapitation… only for the epilogue to remind me that these frat douches are still douches.  Naturally, this movie is just as bi-polar at the end as it is throughout the first half of the movie.  If you ignore the really inconsistent attempts at comedy, this movie really does have a decent direct-to-video horror/thriller vibe going for it.  I do wonder if the movie originally started as either a straight horror or a comedy (possibly comedy parody of horror?), but maybe the movie wasn’t strong enough as the horror movie it was and a rewrite brought in the shenanigans.  Or possibly it was a parody, or at least a lighthearted horror movie, and the producers were like, “yeah, dumb horror kids ain’t gonna get the joke” and that caused the personality disorders the movie has.

Whatever it is, it’s got vibe and atmosphere that makes this a fun watch, particularly in the fall, but it may not succeed on those same levels for another person who wants more of either of those split personalities.

Next week, I might as well stick around on campus, but…  It’s me, so I’ll just end up Cutting Class anyway.  Everybody knows the deal, come back here in one week!

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