Tonight, in celebration of finishing my Torts final, I sat down on the couch and watched a marathon of Rick Sloane movies. Specifically, I watched the first three Vice Academy movies back to back.

Rick Sloane's a fairly obscure cultural artifact. I first learned of him through USA's Up All Night program. The USA network used to run a pair of movies starting at 11 o'clock on Friday and Saturday nights. Friday nights they were hosted by Rhonda Shear (Possibly a porn star?) and Saturday nights be Gilbert Gottfried. In any case, they tended to be B-movie schlock, but, luckily for me, a young lad in middle school allowed to stay up late on weekends, they often showed carefully-edited quasi-softcore porn movies. You know the sort of movie I'm talking about; teenager sex comedies from the 80s where you sit through 80 minutes of terrible jokes to get at 10 minutes of underwear, and maybe a naked breast if you're lucky (with the breasts carefully edited out of the USA versions). Well, the Vice Academy movies were the monarchs of the Up All Night quasi-softcore empire. The movies were the most enjoyably bad, and the sexuality was practically nonexistent.

It's also possible that you know Rick Sloane from Mystery Science Theater, Episode 907: Hobgoblins. Hobgoblins was the movie that Sloane made before the Vice Academy movies. Sloane actually personally suggested that the Mystery Science Theater folk do Hobgoblins, single-handedly inspiring Mystery Science Theater's "No more movies given to us by their directors" rule.

But, to the point. Sloane made 6 Vice Academy movies. These movies are soft core porn parodies of the Police Academy movies. That's right, porn parodies of comedies that weren't funny to begin with. The cast shifts around, but they always star Ginger Lynn Allen (Of Wing Commander III fame. Also: Porn!). There's actually a noticeable improvement in the quality when you watch them back to back. The first one is intensely amateur. The second one has better production values, but a plot with too many undeveloped ideas (as Rick Sloane put it in an interview "We didn't even end up needing a script to shoot Vice Academy 2." Wow. Just, wow). The third one actually looks vaguely professional. Surprisingly, Sloane got a three picture deal from Paramount for these movies. The second one's the only one that's officially a Paramount Picture, with Paramount logo and everything, but still. Major studio backing.

Sloane has a certain style to his films, and that style is "Cheap and Terrible." He comments in one interview that he liked to do films with a "kids have to run around and solve some problem in one night," plot. You know, like round up the escaped hobgoblins before dawn, or arrest ten people to meet the Vice Academy graduation quota (!) before graduation at 7 AM. So why the recurring plot? Some deep metaphor about the fleeting nature of life? A meditation on the power of night? "Because it's really hard to shoot during the day without a shooting permit, because people get in your shot. But if you set your whole movie at night, and just shoot on empty parking lots, everything's fine." Ah.

Sloane likes to inject humor into his movies. Unfortunately, Rick Sloane isn't funny. No, it's more than that. Rick Sloane doesn't understand what funny is. He's like a four year old kid who's heard jokes, heard people laughing at jokes, maybe heard some simple "Why did the chicken cross the road?" kinda jokes. The kid's used to people laughing at him when he jokes, either because he's cute or because they're humoring him. So he starts making his own hybrid jokes based on jokes he's heard before. But the kid doesn't get what makes jokes funny, so the jokes he makes aren't funny, and he's no longer cute enough to get away with non-funny jokes. Rick Sloane is a guy who makes jokes but doesn't understand what makes jokes funny, and nobody has had the heart to tell him he isn't funny. So we get 50 knees to the crotch in a row. Or we get zany sound effects (a Rick Sloane trademark) for no damn reason. Or we get characters saying lines in unison that apparently are supposed to be funny, but patently aren't (For example: In the first Vice Academy movie a gang of ten hookers steals the cops' van. They drive off and, for no explained reason, the van rolls over onto its side. The hookers then say, in unison, "Awwwww! Somebody call a tow truck!" Then there's a zany "Boing-oing-oing-oing-oing!" sound, and we cut to another scene).

Also, and this isn't necessarily Sloane's fault, the movies are definitely products of their time. That is, the women in them are dressed in the height of bar fashion for their day. Sadly, particularly for the first movie, their day was in 1988. So we get a lot of spandex, puffy skirts, and big crimped hair. The second movie's a bit better, and they almost look normal by the third one, which was shot in 1991. By then we at least have Blossom-style fashion and reasonable haircuts.

It's also of note that these movies are completely non-arousing. They drain sensuality from your life. What's disturbing is that I remember that when I first saw these movies in middle school I thought they were the height of sexy. What's more disturbing: I recall now having some weird penchant back then for women in uniform. I only remembered this when I started watching these movies and vaguely remembered once having thought that sort of thing was super-hot. Needless to say, it's gone now. So I guess fetishes can die of neglect.

Finally, I'll leave you with a couple more telling insights from the interviews on the DVDs. First, from Elizabeth Kaitan, who played Candy in Vice Academies 3-6: "I learned a lot from working on Vice Academy 3. Like Rick Sloane taught me how to do a shot in one take. I learned fast that if I, like, goofed a line or started giggling he'd just keep going and it'd end up in the movie." And from Rick Sloane, holding up a pizza box that said "Vice Academy" on it. "I always liked this promotional item. Here's why. See, lots of other independent soft core directors, they throw a lot of sex and nudity in their films. But if you watch my movies closely, you'll see there's a little, but not nearly as much as the other guys put in, even though my movies sell, like, 4-5 times better than theirs. So I like to think that I'm like the pizza delivery guy of movie directors: I make you wait for 90 minutes, and then I never deliver in the end."

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