Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama

In a bowling alley from Hell, there's only one way to score...

Year of Release: 1988
Also Known As: The Imp
Genre: Comedy/Horror
Rated: R
Running Time: 80 minutes (1:20)
Director: Dave DeCoteau


Andras Jones ... Calvin
Linnea Quigley ... Spider
Robin Stille ... Babs Peterson
Hal Havins ... Jimmie
John Stuart Wildman ... Keith
Brinke Stevens ... Taffy
Michelle Bauer ... Lisa
Kathi O'Brecht ... Rhonda
Carla B. ... Frankie
George 'Buck' Flower ... Janitor
Michael Sonye ... Uncle Impie (The Imp) (voice)

This is the tenth in a series of flicks I'm reviewin' in tribute to the ten guys that I feel made the biggest, and in some cases, most important contributions to the Horror genre, and I can think of no better way to punctuate this tenuously linked theme than to honor the man who bought Dino De Laurentiis Studios for the sum of $986,000,000 to make flicks about slime glopola monsters who emerge from the toilet - the one, the only, Charles Band.


There are no freshmen in the college of love, and they're about to graduate to madcap mayhem when a sorority prank goes crazy. Out to steal a trophy from a local bowling alley, the kids accidentally unleash the imp -- a sadistic little spirit with a diabolical sense of humor. He creates demons and loves sexy women. He's the original party animal, inviting you to come along and die laughing -- just like everybody else.

The Sorority Babes won't live through initiation, but don't blame that cute little killer. He's evil by nature and funny as hell. And even if you can take a joke, it kills you.


Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, remindin' us that in the 1980s "working for exposure" meant hagglin' with an actress's agent.

And speakin' of hangin' out, it's gettin' to where a guy can hardly spend a relaxin' evenin' at the bowlin' alley without gettin' his balls in a vice. I'm not tryna be a hardass or anything, but it seems like maybe the management at the Gutter Bowl needs to consider a cutoff point for alcoholic beverages in the alley proper given the correlation between braggadocio and a complete lack of shame followin' a person's 14th round of refreshments. Personally, I got nothin' against humiliation that doesn't involve my immediate person, but I also understand that jolt of panic a guy experiences when his chick gets a little too competitive and suddenly increases the amount of skin in a game.

Nobody ever would tell me what the wager was all about, but the moment the Pinultimates started throwin' down against the Alley Cats last night I had Cleave Furguson in my ear talkin' a mile a minute while two Abobos had me boxed in tryna mash my face into pepper steak.

"Come on, man, this's serious! I need a favor and you owe me. Would you let go of that stupid joystick and listen?!" Cleave blathered.

"I owe you for what, exactly?" I asked, watchin' my last life wink out of existence.

"Oh, I dunno, the boat? The snowmobile? The RV? How about that porcupine you let loose in my--" he rambled.

"Alright! What is so all-fire important that it demands Billy Lee's main squeeze remain a captive of skid row street punk ninjas?!" I growled.

"They got a bet, B.J. and Trudy, everyone's gonna see... you gotta make sure Roxanne wins!" he whined.

"Gonna see what? And what do you expect me to do? Give B.J. the Nancy Kerrigan treatment when she comes outta the can? Piss on that," I snarled, mourning my lost quarter.

"Look, here's a twenty - I don't care how you do it, just do something!" he begged.

"So, to summarize, you're asking me to sabotage a friend AND the integrity of a ranked league game in exchange for an Andy Jackson with a mustache scribbled on it. What kinda low life do you take me for?" I asked, inspecting the bill before turning back to the Double Dragon cabinet.

"Okay, here's... $38 and... 91 cents," he offered, emptyin' his wallet and dumpin' a handfulla change onto the gamepad.

"Game was startin' to wear a bit thin," I agreed, stuffin' the cash into my pocket.

I really woulda liked to've known what the stakes were in this bet but once you're under contract you don't ask those kinda questions. So I kicked around and rejected a coupla ideas until I came up with somethin' that seemed both plausible and unobtrusive, only while I was headin' for the parkin' lot to collect my tools I got stopped by Otis Turlinger at the exit.

"Got a minute?" Otis asked.

"For you, Otis? Never," I grinned without stopping.

Otis was the last thing I needed if I was gonna get that game rigged in a prompt, professional manner, but as it happened, our goals had temporarily aligned.

"How would you and your friend like to have your bowling privileges reinstated?" Otis posited, fumbling his keys nervously.

'Course I didn't get what he was drivin' at right off, so I played it cool and started diggin' through the junk in my trunk real nonchalant like.

"That's downright decent of you, Otis. It takes a big man to admit his mistakes," I smiled as convincingly as I could while tryna locate my BB pistol.

"That was no *mistake* - he could have killed me," Otis snapped, referring to the bowlin' ball Billy Hilliard sent through the alley's backstop and into the employee lounge.

"Regardless, we can forget about that... accident, if you'll help me with a problem I'm having," he clarified.

"Did somebody tack a United Way Agency plaque on me when I wasn't lookin'?" I grumbled, pullin' a loose fish hook outta my finger.

"It's the women in there. They've got this bet... I tried to talk B.J. out of it but, she's, well..." he trailed off.

"Yeah, I know. She put me in a headlock once and made me sing 'I Fought the Law' before she'd let me go," I bitched.

"You're not holding a grudge over it, are you? High school was a rough time for all of us, I'm sure she didn't mean--" he was sayin'.

"It was two weeks ago. She caught me stealin' an onion ring at the Grime Time. How 'bout you get to the point?" I suggested, tossin' an empty jug of washer fluid over my shoulder.

"I just need B.J.'s team to win, is all," he summarized.

"What the heck is this bet about anyway? The losers hafta spend the night in the men's room or somethin'? Ya know, you really oughta outlaw that kinda thing; a person could suffocate if somethin' like that happened on Flatch-in-the-Pants chili night," I stalled, hopin' Otis would finally give up and slink back inside.

"The stakes aren't important. I just need to know whether you'll help, or whether I need to find someone drunk enough to pull the fire alarm," he declared before headin' back inside to empty the quarters outta the Ms. Pac-Man.

I really couldn't give a squirt whether I bowl another game as long as I live, but I've always felt kinda bad about gettin' Billy banned followin' that bet. Kinda ironic that a second one might free us from the consequences of the first, but I wasn't really thinkin' about that at the time. Call me self-absorbed if you want, but at that moment I was preoccupied with the task at hand and the likelihood of transformin' into some kinda man-bait hybrid after accidentally squishin' dried worm guts into my finger.

By the time I'd snuck through the employee lounge and crawled my way past a barrage of Brunswickian bullets and explodin' pins en route to the lane immediately left of the game it was the middle of the fourth frame and I still wasn't sure what I was gonna do. Actually, I knew exactly what I was gonna do, just not who I was gonna screw over in the process. What I was gonna do was conceal myself in the compartment behind the vacant, neighboring lane and strategically plink over any pins left standing following the throws of those players chosen by my benefactor, but before I tell ya about the minor miscalculation I made in the planning process, I wanna get somethin' straight.

It's possible that I'm gettin' soft in my middle age, or that I realized some things are too sacred to corrupt, or maybe I just didn't wanna risk gettin' my head stuffed in the ball return if the losers found out what I'd done, but whatever the case, I decided to do the right thing and slip outta there - leavin' the pins to fall where they may.

Unfortunately, while I was preoccupied with this ethical crisis I didn't notice Otis'd rented the lane next door to Vick Haughton, and when I turned to crawl outta there I took a 13lb Bowlroom Blitzer right in the ear and woke up at 4:39 AM in the dark havin' to feel my way outta there by followin' the sounds of the pinball machines in the arcade.

Found out the next day that the Alley Cats won by eight pins and that the bet included a stipulation wherein the losers all hadda squeeze their fannies into the alley's old top loadin' ball polisher for one minute each. Fortunately, Dusty Funk decided to record the event for posterity and in the end, Roxanne escaped an ass waxin' 'cause once Trudy Eaton got her hinder down in there she refused to remove it until Otis and Chuck Maxwell were able to drag 'er out, and by that time... well, I don't wanna embarrass anyone, but let's just say the machine is currently undergoing maintenance to remove excess lubrication obtained via an external source.

I wasn't real keen on hangin' around until Chuck opened the place back up at 8, so I climbed out the men's room window and hauled on outta there while there was still a little darkness left to conceal my bumfuckery. Ordinarily I woulda crashed a couple more hours before my shift at the Videodome but decided to forego the nap in observance of concussion protocol, so I gave Apollo and Shankles their overdue kibble and stuck Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama in the VCR to make up for the buns I missed out on at the Gutter Bowl.

Now, I'm sure that after the evenin' I just described some folks're gonna write this review off as a nightmare in a damaged brain, and I just wanna say that it's my great pleasure to introduce each of those naysayers to the magic that was Empire Pictures. Even in its death throes Empire was churnin' out quality B flicks under the increasingly beleaguered watch of Charles Band, and Sorority Babes is one that developed such a strong cult following that Charlie went back 44 years later and threw sixty, seventy bucks into the kitty to make a sequel. By all rights the comedy-to-horror ratio in this thing should render it totally unwatchable, but between the titular setting, the casting of The Big 3 (Linnea Quigley, Brinke Stevens, and Michelle Bauer) of Scream Queendom, and the resulting nostalgia overload, this flick punches so far above its weight that Chris Rock hadda take out a restraining order against it.

I have no explanation for it, it's just something you have to see for yourself. And what's more, it's chock full of the kinda low budget wisdom you can only get from a man who knows he's gonna lose everything but doesn't give a rip. I'll give ya three tidbits to getcha started - feel free to trade 'em with your friends.

First, a simple kinking of the showerhead cable can increase the duration of your nude scene by 300%. Second, clear enunciation during sexual encounters is key to keeping your sock outta people's mouths. And third, impin' ain't easy.

The movie begins with three dorks (Calvin, Jimmie, and Keith) sneakin' over to a sorority house that once belonged to an elderly Avon lady to watch this year's crop of trophy wives in training (Brinke Stevens and Michelle Bauer) subject themselves to verbal and physical humiliation in the name of social networking. Unfortunately, the path to the Country Club and its unchecked day-drinking is guarded by Barbaric Babs and her undergraduate bimbi (Rhonda and Frankie), and before a pledge earns the right to share a bathroom with nine other women she must first bend over and have 'er buns mashed into pancake batter by the board of education until she's prepared to be doused in ceremonial Reddi-Wip. Everything's proceedin' according to schedule until the guys decide to sneak inside for a better look and end up gettin' caught observing the ritual cleansing of the sacred panhellenic hooters. Babs is P.O.'d, so she tells Brinke and Michelle that to gain entry to the sorority they hafta break into the mall bowlin' alley and bring 'er somethin' to prove they were there and informs the guys that they can either assist or spend their Christmas vacations explainin' to their parents how they ended up on the national sex offender registry. The smart move would be to just slip on some bowlin' shoes and present Babs with six confirmed cases of athlete's foot but they decide to go big and steal Lord Stanley's Cup instead, only to find Linnea Quigley's already inside the alley pryin' open the cash register with a crowbar and pretty quick Calvin starts moonin' around after 'er like a lost puppy hopin' she'll put on somethin' sheer and dance a jig on his genitals.

While that's goin' on, the others grab the trophy and go lookin' for Calvin before he tries sniffin' Linnea's hair and gets 'imself folded into a piece of dorkigami, only when they find 'im Jimmie makes an unflattering remark about Linnea's breeding and she ends up crowbarin' 'im right in the Big Mac sack till he drops the trophy and accidentally unleashes a jive-talkin' imp from Dante's 9th Frame of Hell. The little guy's so happy to be free that he starts handin' out wishes like timeshare brochures on a complimentary cruise until he spots Babs and the Epsalon Selectives hidin' out in the surveillance station waitin' for a chance to scare the tar outta his bumbling benefactors, and so he turns Rhonda and Frankie into Succu-Pi so they can twist Jimmie's head off and deposit his mind back into the gutter whence it came. Elsewhere, Keith begins havin' regrets about askin' the imp to turn Michelle into a sex maniac after she just about smothers 'im between 'er ivy league lactoids and he ends up havin' to hide in the concession stand until Rhonda shows up and uses his face to stir the onion rings in the deep fryer. Then Rhonda and Frankie grab Brinke and tug on 'er until she's got stretch marks on 'er spleen while Linnea and Calvin get swept away by the ambiance of the emergency lights and the scent of urinal cake and end up sharin' a tender moment under the restroom hand dryer. Grumpelstiltskin has his work cut out for 'im now that Calvin's got somethin' to live for, so he transforms Babs into a dominatrix in a Tina Turner wig while Linnea's bustin' out alla Rhonda's teeth with 'er 12lb balls.

Next thing, Linnea and Calvin find Buck Flowers in the janitor's closet and he tells 'em about how 30 years ago some pinhead used black magic to summon the imp to help 'im make the PBA Tour but after a while it went apeshit and killed so many league bowlers that the town hadda close down its trailer house factory. The guy tried explainin' to the cops that it was all a big misunderstandin', 'cept by that time he'd already trapped the diet sprite inside a bowlin' trophy and couldn't prove his innocence and so the judge had no choice but to give 'im the gas chamber after findin' 'im guilty on 36 counts of murder and failure to yield right of way to the alley's floor buffer. Meanwhile, Babs tracks down Michelle and pattycakes 'er to death with a diamond-studded Derriere Destroyer 2000 hiney hammer until Calvin and Linnea corner 'er and start an B&D S&M BBQ with molotov cocktails. Then Frankie guts Buck with a butcher knife till Linnea grabs a fire axe and sends 'er head hurtlin' end over end - eventually crashin' into, and destroying the magical seal that'd kept 'em trapped inside the mall like teenagers facin' the threat of chores at home. I think we're down to about three minutes of movie and six minutes of credits so I'd better shut my face before I go ruinin' the stunning conclusion to Dave DeCoteau's Brunswickian opus, but I've got a feelin' Linnea's not gonna be content to split and let that cocky little runt get away with slicin' a run in 'er spandex, so Uncle Impy better watch his pint-sized hinder.

Alrighty, well, even as Charles Band's Empire was crumbling and the overdue payment notices for De Laurentiis Studios were arriving printed in Stencil font, he remained undeterred and soldiered on. I think it appropriate to bookend this series of tributes to the folks who built the genre into what it is today with Charlie because even though he spent most of his time in a producing capacity, he did for home video what Roger Corman did for the drive-in and has yet managed to stay one step ahead of the tide that has dragged nearly all the other independent studios out to sea. Fans of Empire Pictures and Full Moon Entertainment (pre-Paramount divorce) may look upon this current output and find it lacking, but the fact is that he's never stopped adapting to the changing market forces that wiped out virtually all of his peers (with the exceptions of Roger Corman and Lloyd Kaufman), and that's an amazing accomplishment for any studio whose livelihood depended almost entirely upon the now defunct home video rental industry. I don't know that I would elevate Band above Corman in terms of each man's significance to the film industry, but it's important to note that not only has Band survived 20 years beyond the demise of the home video boom, but simply put - during the '80s, there was nobody better. Not New World, not New Line, not Cannon. Yes, New Line had its Nightmare on Elm Street, New World produced Battle Beyond the Stars, and Cannon made Chainsaw Part 2, but Empire focused almost all its attention on genre films and became a staple not only of the Blockbuster horror section, but also of late night cable with such classics as Ghoulies, Re-Animator, From Beyond, Troll, TerrorVision, Tourist Trap, Dolls, Trancers, and Parasite. You could argue that the other studios had one or two runaway hits that outpace Empire's best offerings, but none of them could match its consistency or output, and while it may sound like hyperbole, I am fervently of the opinion that Charlie's studio produced the most enjoyable flicks during the best era in genre history - thus, his contribution to the world of low-budget filmmaking cannot be denied or understated.

Of course, one doesn't reach such a level of distinction on their own, and like Corman before him, Band owes much of his legacy to the filmmakers who got all those great flicks in the can while he was conning investors. And while the Stuart Gordons, David Schmoellers, Brian Yuznas, and Ted Nicolaous garner most of the adoration, many of Empire and Full Moon's most amusing tongue-in-cheek directorial gigs fell to the 20-something Dave DeCoteau. Dave's directed more movies than I've had good days, but after a coupla rough outings in those early days (Dreamaniac, Creepozoids) he found his footing in a year where horror flicks were becoming parodies of themselves, and in my opinion, that's just about the hardest style of genre movie to make because there's a very fine line between a sly wink and a half-ass. Sorority Babes owes much of its success to happenstance and nostalgia to be sure, but in spite of the "stuff happens" script that lacks any real narrative he basically made the ultimate '80s popcorn flick when he brought together the Big 3 (Linnea Quigley, Michelle Bauer, and Brinke Stevens), the immortal Buck Flower, and uncorked copious amounts of T&A within the confines of a bowling alley located inside a mall - and he did it in 14 days with $120,000. It probably goes without saying but the man knew his audience, and although the profits from his efforts were likely swallowed up by the banks, his work will continue to outlive all the grumps in 3-piece suits who battered down the gates of Charlie's castle.

In any event, it's probably about time to apply a little scrutiny to the artistic merit of the illustrious Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, so let's pull this sucker's face outta the deep fryer and see how it tastes.

In strictly technical terms I feel like it might be a little misleading to suggest that there's a plot, but if you're watchin' on or around the film's 35-year anniversary chances are that you'll be so mesmerized by the aesthetics and Michelle Bauer's hooters that the anemic storyline won't be too damaging to your enjoyment; the kids break into the alley, they release the imp, and the imp wipes 'em out. That and the backstory provided by the lovable, if hygienically dubious Buck Flower are all you can expect in the way of plot, and for a flick like this that's probably for the best, 'cause when you start tryna make a statement about the inaccessibility of higher education to the lower classes in a movie about a goblin trapped inside a bowlin' trophy people may get the idea that you're bein' disingenuous.

The acting is a little weak, with the bulk of the cast ranging from acceptable to shaky. Andras Jones, Hal Havins, and John Stuart Wildman are alright as the dorks lookin' for love in all the wrong places, but Kathi O'Brecht, Michelle Bauer, and even Linnea Quigley are a bit awkward at times. Bauer's performance is especially strange in the sense that she genuinely seems more comfortable while nekkid, and this bears out if you compare the opening sequence where she and Brinke are arguing about the necessity of joining a sorority to the shots where she's tryna molest Wildman while under the imp's influence. The latter scene is completely over the top, but very amusing, and she seems significantly less stiff than in the initial stages of the movie. Wildman, on the other hand, was no doubt uncomfortably stiff throughout much of that scene, but that's neither here nor there. Robin Stille, Brinke Stevens, and the Margaret Hamilton-esque Carla B. are more consistent, and you could even say that the one-on-one interactions between Jones and Quigley are cheesily endearing as Linnea gradually becomes smitten despite Jones' general nerdiness, but if we're handin' out awards for acting you've gotta go with Buck Flower as the half-deaf, chromosomally challenged janitor. Michael Sonye has his moments as the imp as well, but for every funny line ("Uncle Impy will ignore that remark, but he'll remember it") there's usually a, "Have a good trip, see you next fall!" I'd imagine most people don't place a lot of significance on how good the individual performances are considering so much of the audience already has a favorable opinion of the cast as a whole, but with a rushed production, it's tough to get the best possible performance from everyone on every take.

Here's who matters and why (besides Buck Flower and the Big Three of '80s scream queens: Linnea Quigley, Michelle Bauer, and Brinke Stevens): Andras Jones (The Attic Expeditions, The Demolitionist, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4), Robin Stille (The Slumber Party Massacre, Vampire Knights, The Being), Hal Havins (Night of the Demons, Witchtrap), John Stuart Wildman (Terror Night, Deadly Weapon), Kathi O'Brecht (Linnea Quigley's Horror Workout), Carla B. (Terror Night, Hack-o-Lantern, Necromancer), Michael Sonye (Reel Evil, Dorm of the Dead, Deathbed, Breakfast of Aliens, Dark Romances Vol. 1, Disgusting Space Worms Eat Everybody, Roller Blade Warriors: Taken by Force, Nightmare Sisters, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, The Phantom Empire, Cyclone, Cards of Death, Star Slammer, The Tomb, Surf Nazis Must Die).

The special effects are pretty cheesy, if pleasantly so. The claim I'm about to make may not make sense to some, but with a movie slanted so heavily toward comedy it would be tonally inconsistent to have state-of-the-art gore effects. So despite the craftsmanship of the imp puppet and the two severed heads falling victim to budgetary constraints, I really don't think they're bad enough to warrant a complaint. Maybe the imp puppet, but the severed heads, the bolts of electricity that open the doors, the zombie makeup, and the burn suit are all in keeping with the tone of the movie. To give these special effects strong marks would be delusional, but to say that they're terrible or damage the movie's fun factor would be spurious at best and outright ignorant at worst.

The shooting locations are, for the most part, fantastic. The "sorority house" is just an ordinary (if charming) residence, but the bowling alley and the brief shots of the characters passing through the mall to reach it, are excellent. You'd think that due to the significance of mall culture in the 1980s that there'd be a slew of horror films taking place in this setting but there're only about a half dozen (The Initiation, Dawn of the Dead, Elves, Chopping Mall, The Fury, and Phantom of the Mall) unless you're fudging your numbers by including department stores, but an audience that grew up in the mall era will get an instant hit of nostalgia the moment the characters step through the doors, and that high is a major contributor to the affection you feel for the movie. You can practically smell the cigarette smoke, cheap cologne, and greasy food just watching the kids run around the grounds, and, nastier aspects of the '80s aside, watching a flick like this leaves you wanting nothing more than to hop in a time machine.

The soundtrack alternates between silly, upbeat synth tracks and the occasional ominous synthesizer composition (the imp's escape from the trophy, for instance), and although I feel like they went a little heavy on the goofier pieces, the music is consistent with the film's tone. It's not an especially catchy score and there aren't many moments where it asserts itself, but at the same time, the movie is very dialogue heavy and doesn't leave many opportunities for a soundtrack to make its mark. That said, Greg Stone's "Here in the Darkness," while devoid of any connection to the events of the flick, is a great tune that aligns perfectly with the silly mood, and resides in the #52 position on my list of the Top 100 Greatest Horror Movie Rock Songs of the 1980s.

Overall, I like this one a lot despite its near-complete absence of plot and middling acting/special effects. It's bolstered mightily by its nostalgic locations, atmosphere, and music, as well as the presence of several genre mainstays and the general feeling that everyone's having fun despite its budget and scheduling crunches. As Empire Pictures go you could do a lot better in terms of production values, but you could also do a lot worse and you'll rarely have more fun. Probably unwatchable to anyone born after 1990, but if you grew up hangin' out in the food court it's a must.

Rating: 72%