Dir: David DeCoteau
Star: Andras Jones, Linnea Quigley, Michelle Bauer, Robin Stille
a.k.a. The Imp
I can’t believe it has taken me so long to see this. It was kinda famous when it came out in the UK at the end of the eighties, despite the name (as on their sleeve) being changed from the original – surely, one of the finest B-movie titles ever. It’s odd, because Colourbox Video were not exactly shrinking violets when it came to promoting their product. I can only presume they were concerned Brits would not know what “sorority babes” were. I think their typical customers were very much aware. I’m also hard pushed to think the original poster (below) was a worse way to sell the movie than their rather lame cover. Oh, well: 35 years later, here we eventually are.
It is, basically, everything a movie with such a goofy title might imply. Two coeds (Bauer, under her McClellen name, and Brinke Stevens) are being initiated into a sorority, when Calvin (Jones) and two entirely forgettable colleagues are caught peeping on the ceremony. As punishment, the sorority queen (Stille) orders all five to break into a bowling alley in a nearby mall and steal a trophy. On the way in, they meet Spider (Quigley), intent on robbing the place. A bigger concern though, is the trophy containing a demonic entity, who escapes when it’s accidentally dropped. The creature is basically an evil genie, who can grant wishes – except not in the way intended, a twist Calvin warns his colleagues about. unsurprisingly to no effect.
The rest of the film sees their steadily decreasing number being pursued by the possessed sorority sisters through the sealed-up mall, at the behest of the imp. He has a black voice for some weird reason, though the execution is not bad in general. It’s a puppet that has a half-decent degree of articulation – albeit not enough to let it do actual violence, which is delegated to its minions. Eventually, Calvin and Spider encounter Exposition Man, in the form of the long-serving mall janitor, who explains the imp was summoned by a bowler. I guess that’s as good an explanation as anything, serving the purpose here adequately.
Given how terrible some of DeCoteau’s work since has been, this is pleasantly workmanlike, albeit excessively dark for much of the second half (potentially a transfer issue). The portrayals are broad, yet the hero and heroine are less irritating than many genre entries. Spider, in particular, is a pleasant surprise. Quigley tended to get stuck with bimbo characters: this is instead a nice throwback to her breakout role in The Return of the Living Dead. She even bypasses any nudity, that instead being delivered by Bauer and Stevens in acceptable quantity and surprisingly full-frontal quality. I do feel it would have benefited from leaning more into the horror angle; the kills here are generally not very impressive. I recall the similarly located Chopping Mall did a little better in balancing those elements. I see I also have not reviewed that here. Coming soon…