Color, 1984, 94m.
Directed by Hy Averback
Starring Lisa Hartman, Lorna Luft, Lynn-Holly Johnson, Wendy Schaal, Russell Todd, Christopher McDonald, Howard McGillin, Alana Stewart, Louise Sorel
Scorpion (DVD) (US R0 NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)

Where the Boys Are 84In 1978, disco-era producer and legendary party planner Alan Carr scored a major hit with Grease, a combination of inappropriately aged actors playing teenagers, sort-of-raunchy humor, and a wafer-thin plot stitched together with bright colors and peppy music. When he tried to repeat the formula four years later with Grease 2 (after stumbling with the disastrous but enjoyably trashy Can't Stop the Music), the results drew derision from audiences and critics alike. It's still become something of a cult favorite as well (admit it, you know you can hum "Cool Rider"), and Carr decided to take one final stab at the youth audience after studying the box office receipts for Porky's and Spring Break. Bringing back one each from his Grease 2 stable of Pink Ladies and T-Birds, Lorna Luft (daughter of Judy Garland) and Christopher McDonald, he reused the title and very basic premise from the 1961 Fort Lauderdale romp for Where the Boys Are, with an 84 added to the title everywhere except the actual prints for some reason.

The concept is familiar here as a quartet of girls heads to the beach for some fun and lovin' in the sun, despite the fact that they're stuck in a low-rent and rowdy dive. Inexperienced Jennie (Deadly Blessing's Hartman) is torn between struggling new wave musician Scott (Friday the 13th Part 2's Todd) and pampered rich boy Daniel (Daniel McDonald, Christopher's brother); slutty Laurie (For Your Eyes Only's Johnson) runs after anything in pants and gets to browbeat a male hustler; Carole (Luft) is recovering from a recent split; and debutante Sandra (Schaal) finds out the hard way she can't hold her liquor and winds up in jail. To spring her, Carole enters a Hot Bod contest on the beach and (hilariously) comes in second place, followed by a speedboat raid that disrupts a high society mansion mixing senior citizens and bondage participants and the obligatory musical climax.

Though this was Carr's first R-rated film as a producer, it isn't much stronger than his previous ones; you get a few potty mouths, some brief toplessness from a few extras, and memorable scene with Johnson coaching Schaal on the secrets of love with a male blow-up sex doll, but compared to the sexy beach movie Hardbodies that opened a month later, it's pretty genteel. Fortunately it works like gangbusters today as an '80s time capsule complete with feathered hair, synth music galore, and of course, Hartman covering the original film's theme song. The actresses do their best with their routine parts, while most of the good material goes to the supporting cast, particularly Todd.

Key Video released this on VHS back in the day, and it's been quite a collector's item ever since (particularly Hartman fans, of whom there are legion); oddly, the rights holder, British company ITC, has kept it off the market for a long time, making Scorpion's DVD in 2011 a debut of sorts much later in the game than normal for an mid-level '80s cult title like this. As for the transfer, keep your expectations modest; ITC is infamous for the wild inconsistency of its masters, and while this is definitely a step up over the fuzzy VHS edition, it looks about on par with a decade-old TV broadcast master with line doubling evident if you watch it on a larger screen. The very '80s colors like nice, however (except for the obvious bright reds that NTSC can't handle at all), and you get a couple of welcome extras in addition to the fullscreen trailer. Now an agent for Steadicam operators, Todd appears for a fun video interview about his career including his beloved slasher appearance and his experiences with his fellow actors; meanwhile Schaal (at one time the stepdaughter of Valerie Harper, who got her a break onto the show Rhoda) discusses her own segue into the film and the shenanigans that went on during shooting. Both of them haveWhere the Boys Are 84 held up incredibly well over the years and make for good company here. Other extras include summer-themed trailers for Follow Me, Skateboard, and Cheerleaders Wild Weekend.

Not surprisingly, this title was picked for an eventual Blu-ray release from Scorpion as a 2,000-unit limited edition sold through Screen Archives. Fortunately the intervening four years have allowed access to much better source materials, with a fresh HD scan now breathing far more life into the film (and into that blow-up doll) with a gaudy array of vibrant primary colors and much more detail and natural grain than the very TV-ish appearance of the prior DVD. The DTS-HD MA audio also sounds much healthier with clean channel separation for the original Dolby Stereo theatrical audio, and the two featurettes and trailer have been carried over here as well.

Updated review on November 27, 2011.