Blu-ray Review: Porky’s

porkys 3

Starring: Nancy Parsons, Art Brindle, Dan Monahan
Director: Bob Clark
Rating: 8/10

Bob Clark’s sweaty, swampy chronicle of horny teens chasing skirt in 1950s Ford Lauderdale was widely dismissed upon its release as smut of the worst kind, even as it cranked up huge sales on video cassette. And at least at first glance, it’s certainly not a movie that seems to delve too deep into the human condition. With its series of comic yarns that follow one upon another in a lazy southern shuffle, it’s unashamedly a good time movie for the guys. But hey, the jokes still stand up! (Oh no, he didn’t!)

Besides, that’s not the whole story. In among the tomfoolery, the film also paints an irreverent, warts and all portrait of this supposedly squeaky-clean era of chrome and fins and checks and stripes. The kids are uncomfortably aware that one of their friends, Tim (Cyril O’Reilly), is rabidly anti-semitic, and they get a personal taste of the dark side of the South when they are screwed over by the grotesque Mr Porky, owner of a strip-joint in the Everglades.

And it’s in its handling of the dark side that Porky’s achieves a weird, almost primitive force. Behind the dick gags you feel the presence of mythic archetypes. Putting aside their bickering and their practical jokes, the community come together to deal with threats beyond the pale, like Tim’s violent white trash dad and the corrupt and dangerous Mr Porky. The boys go through various rites of passage, expel an evil disruptive force and thus win the esteem of their peers and elders. (If you think that’s reading too much into it, there’s even a scene where one of the boys inflates a giant condom and uses it as a comedy phallus like something out of The Wicker Man.)

Looming over the laughter is the shadow of Southern Gothic, and perhaps that’s why Clark cast several horror movie veterans in key roles – Art Brindle, best known for David Cronenberg’s The Brood, plays a kindly sheriff, and Nancy Parsons, one of the cannibal duo in Motel Hell, dons a pair of baggies as games mistress Beulah Balbriker. (She also appeared in the sequels. The franchise may not have done much for women in general, but at least it provided employment for this underrated actress.)

The HD transfer is excellent. The palette of ’50s colours is juicily vivid, there are no artefacts, and the picture is so disorientatingly real-looking, you feel as if you can reach in and snag a beer from from Porky’s wraparound bar. Extras include an audio commentary with Bob Clark, and a 15-minute interview in which he reveals that many of the incidents in the film were based on true stories that he either experienced himself or that he collected from various high schools. In an 11-minute interview, Mr Skin from MrSkin.com discusses the R-rated teen sex comedies of the early ’80s (killed off, he explains, by the introduction of the PG-13 certificate) and casts his expert eye over the shower scene in Porky’s. “Seven gorgeous babes showing bush.” Thanks, Mr Skin.

The stunning transfer makes this a very desirable purchase for ’80s nostalgists. But be warned, you might have to scrape the testosterone off your flatscreen afterwards.

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