Sunday, January 15, 2023

THE LAST AMERICAN VIRGIN (1982) (MVD Rewind Collection Blu-ray Review)


Label: MVD Rewind Collection
Region Code: A
Rating: R
Duration: 93 Minutes
Audio: English LPCM 2.0 Stereo with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1)
Director: Boaz Davidson 
Cast: Lawrence Monoson, Steve Antin, , Joe Rubbo, Diane Franklin, Louisa Moritz, Kimmy Robertson

My favorite of the early 80's teen-sex comedies was, is and will forever be the Golan & Globus produced The Last American Virgin (1982), directed by Boaz Davison (X-Ray), an American update of his hugely successful period-set Israeli film Lemon Popsicle (1978). A true cult-classic of the 80’s R-rated teen sex variety that is both horny as well as heartfelt, telling the tale of a close-knit trio of high school friends; we have shy guy Gary (Lawrence Monoson, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter), the smooth talking Rick (Steve Antin, The Goonies), plus the chubby comic foil David (Joe Rubbo, Hot Chili). At the start of the film it is established that Gary has a hard-crush on 80's babe Karen (Diane Franklin, Better Off Dead), they have a two potential meet-cutes, one of which involves Gary creepily flattening her bike tire so that he can give her a ride to school, but Gary is too shy to pull the trigger either time they meet. A few nights later at a party he plans to ask her out but is crestfallen to see that his pal Rick has already laid on the charms and the pair are making out on the dance floor. Karen attempts to set him up with her pal Rose (Kimmy Robertson, Twin peaks), who is seriously crushing on him, but he's too obsessed with Karen to see the girl right in front of him craving his attention.  

As the film continues Gary must deal with his jealousy which causes his friendship with Rick to fall apart because he can't cope with not getting the girl of his dreams. As a kid I was definitely on team Gary, but in a lot of ways he's a bit of a dick about it the whole thing. I guess we were probably all petulant little shits in out teens, especially when it came to matters of lust of love. It should be noted that this slice of 80's horn-dog cinema is a non-PC friendly film, but hey that's just they way it was back then, and growing up in this era I can attest to the fact that we did a lot of stupid shit that has not aged well. Some (most of) the vignettes not involving sad-sack Gary pining away over the girl of his dreams feature the trio hanging out together attempting to get laid. Early on they meet three girls; the heavy-set wallflower Milly (Winifred Freedman, Reform School Girls), hot-to-trot Roxanne (Gerri Idol) and busty blonde Brenda (Tessa Richarde, Cat People); at a burger joint and take them back to Gary's parents house to party with the promise of cocaine (that they don't have), but when the girls ask for the nose-candy they scramble in the kitchen and emerge with lines of Sweet'n Low, with the na├»ve girls being none the wiser. Gary's parent's come home earlier than expected and are none to pleased to catch their son attempting to cut off Millie's industrial strength bra with his mother's sewing scissors on the couch and two naked girl with bouncing boobies prancing around their home! The trio later encounter nymphomaniac Carmela (Louisa Moritz, New Year's Evil) curvey Latina who plies the boys with tequila before taking them one by one to here bedroom, making her way through Rick and David, until her sailor husband Paco shows up, none to pleased his lady is servicing a trio of teens. Another night out features the teens tapping street prostitute named Ruby (Nancy brock, Wild Wheels) who not only shows them a good time in a dingy basement but gives them crabs as well, which leads to the teens attempting to drown the pubic lice in a public pool before desperately seeking assistance from the local druggist (Mel Welles, The Little Shop of Horrors) who is quite entertained by their itchy balls. 

As fun as the film is and as rambunctious and sexed-up as it is, and trust me, it's chock full of gratuitous nudity, the film is also quite heartfelt and at times darker than most teen sex comedies of this era ever dared edged into. The encounter with the street hooker it's light-hearted, let's-get-laid moment, in fact Gary is so upset by the downer experience that he becomes physically ill and retches in the corner after having his cherry popped so unceremoniously. Later in the film Karen gets knocked up after being deflowered atop the bleachers of the football field by Rick, he ghosts her in her time of need and it's good-guy Gary who steps up to not only take her to get the abortion but also ponies up the cash and cares for her for several days following the procedure. The gut-punch of it is that he doesn't get the girl, instead he has his feet firmly placed in blocks of friend-zone concrete and tossed into the proverbial river of life. The ending is such a downer, but it rings true to reality, which was surprising to me at the time. Reality was not the strong suite nor was it really something audiences generally wanted from a teen sex comedies. They're escapist, often misogynist disposable entertainment, but this is what makes The Last American Virgin so compelling to me; sure it's fun and there's a ton of nudity, but it also finishes with the truth that sometimes the nice guy doesn't get the girl.

When you watch this be on the lookout for The Return of the Living Dead's Brian Peck as a well-hung peeping-tom named Victor, it's a smaller role, but we do get a gym locker room dick-measuring competition thrown in here as well - you have got to love the 80's!

Audio/Video: The Last American Virgin (1982) arrives on Blu-ray from MVD Rewind Collection in 10880p HD framed in 1.85:1 widescreen from an HD master provided by MGM. To my eyes this looks to be an older existing HD master, perhaps the same used by Arrow Video for their UK release some years ago and the 2015 bare-bones US release from Olive Films. Generally I found this presentation pleasing, but colors can seem a tad soft and it looks slightly over bright in spots, in addition to there being quite a few nicks and speckles. It also doesn't have the depth and detail a new scan would have afforded it, but it's not ruinous, just not HD perfection. Audio comes by way of uncompressed English PCM 2.0 stereo with optional English subtitles. Dialogue is delivered cleanly but I thought it was quite low in the mix, at times I had the audio cranked up and then the music would kick in and I would be scrambling to lower it lest earn the wrath of my sleeping wife a few rooms away. That said, the music selections in this film are absolutely fantastic, we get choice cuts from The Police, Devo, The Plimsouls, Journey, Reo Speedwagon, U2, The Cars, The Gleaming Spires, The Waitresses and so many more which make this an essential 80's soundtrack. I'm pretty sure these were cutting edge at the time of the film's release - and they sound nicely dynamic. 

MVD Rewind Collection do not offer any new extras but they do carry-over all the Fantastic Factory produced special features that appeared on the UK release Arrow Video release. Archival bonus junk includes the 36-min "The First American Remake” Interview with Boaz Davidson, the 26-min "Memories of a Pizza Boy” Interview with Lawrence Monoson, the 21-min “Babe of the Eighties” Interview with Diane Franklin, and “In Praise of Smaller Movies” Interview with cinematographer Adam Greenberg which runs 22-min.  The featurettes are well-produced and provide plenty of making of stories, especially the chat with Monoson who talks about how nerve wracking some of the sex scenes were for him at that age, and lying about his age to secure the role! The disc extras are buttoned-up with a 4-min Photo Gallery, 2-min Original Theatrical Trailer, 29-sec TV Spot, and additional Trailers for The Go Go Boys documentary (2 min), Ski Patrol (2 min),  Men At Work (2 min), and At Close Range (3 min).

The single-disc release arrives in a clear Viva Elite keepcase with a 2-sided non-reversible sleeve of artwork and a Original VHS Box “Replica” Limited Edition Slipcover that is available with the first pressing, which has the same artwork as the wrap but with faux shelf-wear look to it with VHS rental stickers plastered all over it. Inside there's a Collectible Mini-Poster with the same artwork as the wrap. 

Special Features: 
- High Definition (1080p) presentation of the main feature in 1.85:1 aspect ratio (HD master provided by MGM)
- Audio: 2.0 LPCM Stereo with Optional English Subtitles
- “The First American Remake” Interview with Boaz Davidson (36 min) 
- "Memories of a Pizza Boy” Interview with Lawrence Monoson (26 min)
-  “Babe of the Eighties” Interview with Diane Franklin (21 min)
- “In Praise of Smaller Movies” Interview with cinematographer Greenberg (22 mi)
-  Photo Gallery (4 min) 
- Original Theatrical Trailer (2 min) 
- Trailers: The Go Go Boys (2 min), Ski Patrol (2 min),  Men At Work (2 min), At Close Range (3 min)
- TV Spot (29 sec) 
- Collectible Mini-Poster
- Original VHS Box “Replica” Limited Edition Slipcover (First Pressing Only!)

Screenshots from the MVD Rewind Collection Blu-ray: