Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama

Can a trio of scream queens deliver a perfect strike in this 80s comedy-horror?

Scream queens are the bread and butter of the horror genre, dating back at least as far as Fay Wray’s iconic performance in the 1933 smash King Kong. All an actress needs to do to qualify for the title is become associated with the genre through a notable appearance in a major horror movie or through a series of appearances in a variety of movies. Thanks to films like Halloween, The Fog and Friday the 13th, the late ‘70s/early ‘80s saw the likes of Jamie Lee Curtis, Adrienne Barbeau and Betsy Palmer all being crowned scream queens.

However, with the explosion in straight-to-video horror movies in the late 1980s, fans were treated to a new breed of scream queen who rarely (if ever) appeared in films that played at cinemas. Instead, these actresses found fame in flicks like Creepozoids, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity and Demonwarp, and were celebrated with pull-out posters and profiles in genre publications like Fangoria and Gorezone. And amongst this new breed of scream queens none were more iconic than Linnea Quigley, Brinke Stevens and Michelle Bauer.

Which brings us to David DeCoteau’s 1988 comedy-horror Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama. Apart from it’s brilliantly lurid title (which was actually ditched and replaced with The Imp in some territories, including the UK) the other truly notable thing about the film is that it is one of only two movies that saw the aforementioned unholy trinity of Quigley, Stevens and Bauer appear on screen together.

The only other time this ever happened was in DeCoteau’s earlier 1987 flick Nightmare Sisters. Heck, even the legendary 1991 exploitation documentary/clip-show/parody Scream Queen Hot Tub Party found Stevens and Bauer joined by fellow scream queens Monique Gabrielle, Kelli Maroney and Roxanne Kernohan for the main hot tub action, while Quigley was relegated to appearing in some of the featured clips.

But enough with the history lesson, what about Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama? The film kicks off with a trio of nerdy students heading over to spy on the initiations at the Tri-Delta sorority. It’s here that we are introduced to Stevens and Bauer as Taffy and Lisa, a pair of suspiciously mature pledges, who are bent over a couch having their backsides paddled by bitchy sorority leader Babs and her two cohorts.

After what seems like an eternity of crosscutting between the nerds sneaking around trying to get a better look and the two girls being disciplined with a paddle, the girls are eventually sprayed down with whipped cream and then sent upstairs to shower. Cue an incredibly lengthy scene of Stevens slowly showering herself down while carrying on a conversation with Bauer, who seems happy to just stand nude in front of the bathroom mirror.

With about a fifth of the film’s running time now spent on pure exploitation, it’s finally time to get the plot going. The three nerds are caught spying and as punishment must help Taffy and Lisa complete the final part of their initiation – break into the local bowling alley and steal a bowling trophy of their choice. What they don’t know is that Babs and her cronies are heading there as well to try and scare them all out of their wits.

At the bowling alley they’re surprised to bump into bad girl Spider (Linnea Quigley) who was already robbing the place and has the astonishing ability to keep her clothes on for the entire movie! But even that isn’t the biggest surprise of the night as the trophy they choose to steal contains a demonic little imp who promises to make their wishes come true. But in traditional Monkey’s Paw fashion, each wish comes with a deadly twist. And so the killing begins…

As you can probably tell from the synopsis, Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama isn’t exactly what you’d call a good film. But I don’t really think that will come as much of a surprise to anybody familiar with the rest of DeCoteau’s body of work from the same period. But it does share one positive aspect with those films that sets it apart from so many other straight-to-video exploitation flicks of the time – it refuses to ever take itself seriously.

Sure, it’s a trashy piece of exploitation. But at least it’s a trashy piece of exploitation that keeps its tongue firmly wedged in its cheek. So what if pretty much all of the Imp’s wisecracking falls horribly flat? At least lame gags are preferable to the sadistic brutality that was present in so many of comparable films of the same era. And who really cares that the film doesn't live up to the expectations that would surround any movie that brings together Linnea Quigley, Brinke Stevens and Michelle Bauer, because you have to wonder what film could? At the end of the day, for all of its flaws, there are a many worse ways of spending 76-minutes than joining these sorority babes on their visit to the 'Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama' - especially for us die-hard fans of '80s scream queens. 

Picture: Even if 88 Film’s DVD treatment of Sorority Babes and the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama isn’t necessarily going to win any awards, it’s still far better than anybody ever had any right to expect. Colours are particularly rich and vibrant and the print itself is in very good shape, with barely a hint of wear and tear to be found.

The only real problems with the 1.33:1 image stem from the source material rather than the transfer itself. There’s a slight softness to the image that is typical of the films of the era and a lack of shadow detail in darker scenes results in the film’s gloomy final act being a bit harder to follow that you might expect (but much easier than it ever was on the blurry old VHS release). 
Picture rating: 3/5

Audio: There’s really not a lot to say about the disc’s Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, except for the fact that – as with the picture quality - any problems stem from the original components. While the soundtrack does the best it can with the material at hand, the unsophisticated nature of the mix means that the dialogue track and the oh-so-‘80s synth score are left fighting each other for supremacy whenever both occur at the same time. Neither wins, so you don’t really miss anything, but it does mean that these instances do sound rather unbalanced. Still, judging the disc purely on its ability to replicate the original soundtrack, (warts and all) it’s hard to knock what 88 Films has conjured up. There are no subtitles options.
Audio rating: 3/5

Extras: This is the most disappointing part of the disc. The other 88 Films releases we seen so far (The Pit and the Pendulum and Tourist Trap) have managed to deliver archival behind-the-scenes featurettes, gag reels, interviews and even a commentary track. Sadly, Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama has nothing more than the film’s original trailer and a Full Moon Trailer Park housing trailers for ten forthcoming 88 Films releases including all three Gingerdead Man films and the iconic Puppet Master.
Extras rating: 1/5


We say: The film’s no classic, but it’s still a must-own disc for fans of ‘80s scream queens

88 Films, R0 DVD, £15 approx, On sale now