I like to think of this subgenre, particularly in the 1980s, an American tradition. Certainly it was nothing new to either the United States or other countries before the decade or even to this very day, but there was something pretty special about the American landscape of both horror and comedy in the 1980s. It was the decade of slashers and Porky’s ripoffs. But, maybe more important, it all falls back onto an idea I’ve discussed numerous times before – you had to stock video store shelves and late night cable TV time slots.
That brings us to director Rick Sloane and this week’s screwball comedy, Vice Academy.
Sloane is probably best known for his sci-fi throwback/boner comedy/creature feature Hobgoblins. I’ve covered that over at Film Seizure on an episode of my weekly Monster Mondays show. That was a movie I’ve seen a few times when it first made its way to cable, and several times when it was literally eviscerated by the crew of the Satellite of Love on Mystery Science Theater 3000. While I love that particular episode of MST3K, I’ve always enjoyed the quaint attempt at a Gremlins clone as well as the general quirkiness of the mixture of a lot of 80s tropes that are at play in the movie.
For Vice Academy, Sloane would really turn a single Police Academy style comedy into a career. This first film was released in 1989 and benefited from Linnea Quigley and porn star-turned-mainstream actress Ginger Lynn Allen. Allen would go on to appear in five of the six entries in the series – star of the first three, and appearing in cameo roles in the fifth and sixth entries.
Look, this shit is real easy to make. Have some kooky cop characters, and have them do kind of crazy things. I mean there, like, eleventy billion Police Academy movies that do the exact same thing. But, now hear me out here… Let’s put a spin on this. Instead of mostly male characters playing the majority of the cops, let’s have our movie star big-tittied sexy chicks in cop uniforms. Ladies aren’t alone in wanting to see someone sexy in a cop uniform. Guys get a rise out of seeing big-titty blondes in those outfits too.
Boom! You got yourself a movie that guys will naturally be drawn to at the video store. More than likely, the guys would rent it or secretly tape it off the TV to watch when they have days off and their ladies are at work.
Anyway, speaking of taping it off the TV, the series would find a usual home on basic cable as part of the late night hosted movie program on USA, Up All Night, itself being mostly remembered for being hosted by a sexy B-movie actress, Rhonda Shear. The first five films would appear often on the weekly program. As for Up All Night, in its ten seasons, over 900 episodes were shot. The 90s were kind of a great time because you had Up All Night happening at the same time as Joe Bob Briggs hosting on The Movie Channel and TNT and the aforementioned Mystery Science Theater 3000 on Comedy Central and Sci-Fi Channel. Hell, even local horror hosts, while on the decline, were still around in some markets.
For a guy who didn’t often have many dates or didn’t care to go out of the house all that much, this was fine programming to pass the time.
Before I get into the movie proper, one more thing… When I was searching for the poster to use for this article, I discovered that searching images for “Vice Academy 1989 poster” gives you some curious connections:
Now, Ruth Bader-Ginsberg is pretty awesome. I agree that she is a fine example of what young ladies should aspire to in terms of power and inspirational status. I also do not want to be discriminatory on the basis of age here, but… God please do not let RBG be in Vice Academy as a “sexy judge” to go along with our sexy cops. You wouldn’t do that, would you Rick Sloane?
Our movie begins with some suspicious shenanigans outside a truck stop diner. It’s a coke deal. The buyer says it is top grade shit and he can make a killing off it. The seller says he can get as much as he wants because he has a new source. Just then a blonde babe pulls up and says she’s lookin’ to party (true fact: ALL blondes in the 80s were looking to party, even outside a closed diner). They say there ain’t no party here so she should just beat cheeks. She comes up with another idea – make their own party. She turns up the radio and dances her way over to the drug dealers’ car. She shows a giant roll of cash to buy her own party.
But! She’s a cop! Boom! VICE ACADEMY!
After a rockin’ theme song and nice, easy to read pink text on a black background credits, we go to the prestigious Vice Academy where a high ranking lady cop, Miss Devonshire, is teaching a classroom full of hot babes. The ass kissing star student, Holly (Ginger Lynn Allen), is the daughter of the chief of police. She took on the drug bust by herself, but Miss Devonshire is suspect of her tactics for just picking up a single dealer when they could’ve done more investigation to root out everyone in the operation. While Holly brags to Miss Devonshire about her report and her accomplishment, three more of our important players come into class tardy – Shawnee (Karen Russell), Dwayne (Ken Abraham), and Didi (Linnea Quigley).
Holly and Didi don’t get along. Didi thinks Holly is a brown-noser using her father’s status as chief to get an easy pass onto Vice. Holly thinks Didi is trash. For the lesson in today’s class, Devonshire wants Dwayne to pretend to be a dangerous perp and hold Shawnee at gunpoint to see how to disarm a person. Shawnee just shows him her tits which distracts him enough for her to grab his gun. Devonshire says that’s not the right way to go about this. Instead, use pressure points, like a kick in the nuts. Holly asks if everyone can take a shot at those balls, and Devonshire agrees. So the girls all line up and kick him in the dick one after the next.
The girls then do some field work. They run the obstacle course, spar, and do some target practice. They come back in to learn about how to do make up to go undercover as hookers. Miss Devonshire makes a good point – no pimp will wait for his bitches to put their face on. After Devonshire gets Shawnee ready to go in 21 seconds, it’s time for Shawnee to practice what she learned on Didi – it goes about as well as looking for a sip of water in a port-o-john.
You know what I positively love about this movie? It’s not so much that it tries to be like Police Academy. It’s not that smart or well made. Instead, it is playing out like a high school or college comedy. You have Holly who is the stuck up bitch who thinks her shit don’t stink. Then there’s Didi, the cool chick who you instantly like because Holly is a cunt and Didi is Linnea Quigley, the coolest chick to have ever lived probably. Then there’s Didi’s friend Shawnee who is basically just a simpleton bimbo. Finally, there’s Dwayne who is like the guy who purposely signs up for a Women’s Studies class in college just to be the only guy in a room full of girls. The humor is both low brow and lower brow, and it’s just charming as fuck.
While out on the town to party, Didi and Shawnee find a battered girl named Cherry Pop. She tells them that she ran away from home at the age of 15 and became a porno queen. However, she kind of wanted out of the business, so she tried to parlay her adult career into a sexy aerobics career. However, her director and producer of the pornos hired someone to beat her up so she will never work again. Didi suggests she come down town to the station and file a statement to put the people who did this away, but Cherry Pop runs away saying she’s too scared of these people.
Didi decides that Holly was right that maybe she and Shawnee should go undercover to help get their… Vice diploma…? Whatever, they are going to go undercover to bust up the porno ring. Devonshire equips them like Q would James Bond and they are off to get these dicks!
Didi goes in and applies to be a porno while Shawnee and Dwayne play backup outside. She reads for the movie “Chafed Raw”. However, her co-star is a sexy hunk that gives her the vapors. On her first day at the job, she’s about to do her big scene. She takes a minute to snoop around and she finds a book that reveals that Cherry Pop indeed was signed when she was only 15. However, outside, Dwayne and Shawnee get bored listening in and decide to jam out to the newest album from their favorite band.
Inside, Didi is doing her first scene in which this hunky stud is going to rape her until she’s split in two. Because she’s so hot for her co-star, she can’t wait for this splitting. Yet, Dwayne and Shawnee are late to the party, but still get the producer and director, as well as the rest of the crew, busted.
Alright, so… The End I guess! Come back next week for another dose of B-Movie Enema when we discuss the Ital…
Oh, wait. There’s still like half a movie to go. Hmm… Okay. Say, there’s a loose thread here. When Didi, Shawnee, and Dwayne was leading everyone out of the porno studio, Didi had her hunky co-star handcuffed to her. I wonder what’s going on with them?
Oh my god.
The next day, Didi says it’s time they finally get some damn respect around class. However, it backfires a little bit. Devonshire got a report that she had sex with one of the arrested guys before they made the bust. Dwayne and Shawnee try to explain they were late to the arrest, but Devonshire has none of it. Didi says that maybe it should have been Holly who went on the sting because she makes a better whore than any of the girls in class. You know what this leads to…
Now… Let’s dissect this moment of cinematic history. You have Ginger Lynn dressed as a cheerleader because she’s fresh from her latest sting at the high school. Linnea Quigley is wearing a dress that is no longer than a t-shirt. They are fighting, rolling around, and I blacked out for a little bit. When I came to, they were still going at it.
Naturally, I blacked out again from all the excitement and this time when I came to, Didi and Shawnee were told to go on an undercover prostitution sting. They are going after some of “Queen Bee’s” girls. Holly says her father has been trying for a long time, but each cop he sends in never comes back. Devonshire is well aware of this fact.
They go off to their possible doom, but Cherry Pop comes in to testify against the porno people. Out on the streets, though, our trio pick up a couple prostitutes. Dwayne comes up with the idea to find the whole hive of hookers so they can bust a bunch of them all at once. Sure enough, they find a laundromat that is crawling with hookers. This is shockingly easy for them to nab. He goes in with a disguise, gets them to name their price, and he leads them all out.
After Dwayne cleans out the hookers, Shawnee and Didi go back in to clean up the johns who may still be around or coming in to get dates. However, when Shawnee brings out a guy to load him up into the van, the hookers jump Dwayne and throw them into the back of the van and the hookers take them to their headquarters to be “dealt with” there.
I lost a little bit of the thread here when all of a sudden a cop car is driving around and the girls driving the van accidentally roll the vehicle at the Griffith Observatory. How this happened, why, or whatever, but they get the van back onto the wheels and take them to a warehouse where the drug dealers from the beginning of the movie are holding Dwayne and Shawnee while Didi and her hunky porno guy sneak in to save them.
Queen Bee comes out to introduce herself as the leader of all the drug and prostitution stuffs in the city. She says that all five cops previously sent undercover to infiltrate the ring have been sent overseas and sold into white slavery. Shawnee will be next and Dwayne is gonna get castrated and sent to watch over the girls.
Didi has Hunky McBigdickerson make a recording that sounds like the cops have the place surrounded. This distracts Queen Bee and her operation which allows for Didi to free Dwayne and Shawnee. When the drug dealer finds Shawnee, she tries the disarming trick with her titties again, but it doesn’t work. Dwayne jumps in and tries to punch the guy out until she reminds him that he needs to kick him in the dick.
So what we get here in this finale is Queen Bee and her girls trying to find a way out of her cavernous hideout but ultimately being tricked into getting locked in the back of the van. Now, they have to hurry to graduation to get their Vice diplomas and prove that mean old Miss Devonshire that they ARE worthy vice cops.
Remember when I said this has all the hallmarks of a high school or college comedy? It even has a graduation scene, but what makes this particularly hilarious is how utterly pathetic it is. This giant stage with just a few kiddie style decorations and the girls lined up on a couple park benches. I’ve been laughing about this for several minutes.
I’d like to think this is Rick Sloane realizing that 1) he has a very limited budget, 2) he has no time to dress a real set as well as afford a real set as per the first realization, and 3) he realized this was a comedy anyway and this is fucking hilarious in its pathetic execution. Dwayne, Didi, and Shawnee literally crash the graduation with their booty of hookers and the Queen Bee.
However, the quota for graduation is 10 and they only busted 9 people. Hunky porno man turns himself in to make the 10th arrest. However, with Cherry Pop’s testimony, they were able to put everyone away from the porno ring, but Devonshire kept that info from them. Cherry pops (heh) in give the good news that her exercise video went platinum. With the porno ring, they 20 arrests and the trio of Didi, Dwayne, and Shawnee are named valedictorians. Not sure how this works because the quota was 10 per person, but the three of them only got 20, but they are all combined into one….
Anyway, the movie keeps up that high school/college feel all the way tot he end with a final cast shot that breaks the fourth wall but also gives us one last chuckle.
We are even teased a sequel with our valedictorians being assigned by the police chief to work closely with Miss Devonshire despite her attempts to get rid of them earlier. I’m not going to lie, this movie is dumb as shit, but also super duper fun. It knows exactly what it is. It’s a sexy romp with sexy babes in the lead. The jokes are cheap and pretty low brow, but I sincerely doubt you’d look at the cover of this movie and think this is going to be some sort of art project come to life. And, hell, the Vinegar Syndrome release of the first three films in a single package just has drawings of Linnea Quigley and Ginger Lynn in police hats and lingerie. So it is kind of on you if you try to critique this film from some sort of hoity toity level and ultimately get irritated by what the movie decides to do with what it has.
Alright, I think this movie is officially over now. Porno ring busted. Prostitution ring busted. Everyone graduates. The cool kids win. The bitch loses. Great! Next week, let’s go to Italy for a black and white chiller. I’ll be looking at Werewolf in a Girls’ Domitory!