King Frat (1979)

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I feel I need to mention, before we get going – any praise of anything in this movie is not agreeing with the activities taken part in or views expressed within it. One must laugh at this film as often as you laugh with it.

It’s Florida in 1979. A film crew rolled into town with the ambition of making a few dollars from idiots at drive-in cinemas. The flavour of the month they were ripping off was “National Lampoon’s Animal House”, so to save as much money as possible, they just hired local actors, which is one of the many reasons you may not recognise any of the fine thespians who plied their trade in “King Frat”. Whereas I’ve seen “Animal House”, an undeniable classic, maybe twice in my life, I’ve seen “King Frat” at least ten times. I don’t know why.

Its simultaneous biggest flaw and biggest plus is the complete lack of any morals whatsoever. And I’m not talking about any film of the last 20 years you’ve seen which claims to be crass and tasteless, which usually just involves a bit of mild nudity and a joke about religion; “King Frat” has a seemingly pathological need to cross every boundary imaginable, to offend everyone it can, to take every funny idea from “Animal House” and dial it way up. Whether this results in a laugh or a horrified gasp seems not to bother these people.

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Yellowstream University, named by the local Native Americans for exactly the reason you are already imagining it’s named, is home to Phi Kappa Delta, the scummiest fraternity imaginable. We’re introduced to them as they drive their hearse with the number plate “HEY 4Q2” round the campus. They fart on the Principal, which kills him immediately – later on, they put a burning block of weed in the ventilation of the church where his funeral is being held, steal his body and leave it in their toilet for the rest of the movie. There’s sort of a plot, with them being threatened with removal from campus by the Assistant Dean and the “preppie frat”, but it’s all pretty irrelevant.

Main student at the frat is “Gross-Out”, played by John DiSanti, who was 41 at the time of filming and looked every minute of it. To deal with the sensitive issue of rampant alcoholism in the Native American community, they have a white guy in crappy facepaint as “Chief Latrine”, who we’re introduced to passed out on the front steps of the frat house in the middle of the day, and who remains blackout drunk throughout. The rest of the frat is a sort of undifferentiated mass of beer-devouring humanity.

The main thread of the first half of the movie is a farting contest. It’s a big deal, drawing a large crowd, and Gross-Out is expected to win of course. Lots of people bending over, strained expressions on their faces, with microphones held down there; Gross-Out’s ex-girlfriend competes (she was too gross even for him); and a dog accidentally drinks some “farting juice” and lets rip with such vigour that it’s thrown across the room. In the second half of the movie, we’re treated to a scene where one of the Phi Kappa boys is in a gorilla suit in the back of an ambulance, and the nurse in there notices he has an erection. Rather than literally any other action, she decides to make use of it, mounts him and gets stuck in the zipper of his outfit, where they’re discovered on arrival at the hospital. Plus there’s a trip to a local brothel where the new pledge finds his wait-til-marriage girlfriend working as a “masseuse”. This is merely a taste of the rich buffet of delights that “King Frat” represents.

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If you’ve sat through every minute of this masterpiece and not exchanged at least three shocked glances with your viewing buddy (seriously, don’t watch this on your own, what’s the point?), then you’re a monster and ought to be ashamed. This really is as repellent as teen raunch movies got – basically no plot, just a series of “sketches”; repetitive beyond even my ability to enjoy farting and drunkenness jokes; stupendously racist towards Native Americans (although not towards black people, oddly enough); and genuinely thinks the only way to be “better” than Animal House is to be louder, dumber and drunker. The tagline?

“#@!! the rules, #@!! the Dean, #@!! the college, #@!! everything… it’s beer time!!”

Yet I love it. I don’t know why, but I do. Its mindlessness probably works in its favour – drunkenness and sociopathic behaviour ages well, it would seem. It’s the worst of the worst, the pits, but there’s something gleeful about it. They love what they’re doing, even if they probably shouldn’t.

Rating: thumbs up

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One thought on “King Frat (1979)

  1. Pingback: Shock Waves (1977) |

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