Reviewed by
Colin Jacobson

Title: H.O.T.S. (1979)
Studio Line: Anchor Bay

The members of the H.O.T.S. sorority set out to steal every man on campus away from the Pi sorority. Dressed to thrill with mile-wide smiles, the ladies transform their university into a sex-crazed fun house.

Director: Gerald Seth Sindell
Cast: Susan Kiger, Lisa London, Pamela Jean Bryant, Kimberly Cameron, Mary Steelsmith, Angela Aames, Marjorie Andrade, Cece Bullard, Karen Smith, Robyn Martin, Lindsay Bloom
Academy Awards: None.
DVD: Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9; audio English Digital Mono; subtitles none; single side - single layer; 28 chapters; rated R; 98 min.; $29.98; street date 7/11/00.
Supplements: None.
Purchase: DVD

Picture/Sound/Extras: B-/D+/D-

God bless Anchor Bay! Who else would bother to issue a forgotten, grade "Z" teen-oriented titty comedy like 1979's H.O.T.S. on DVD? No one, apparently, so it's a good thing they're willing to give us this kind of material.

Recently I savaged the monumentally-unfunny The Kentucky Fried Movie. I've seen a fair number of positive reviews of the film, and most have one common thread: the folks who liked it had seen it when they were younger.

H.O.T.S. possesses similar semi-nostalgia value for me. I would have been too young to see it theatrically in 1979 but I still remember watching it during one afternoon TV showing in the early Eighties. (No, it didn't take this one too long to go to the TV wasteland.)

H.O.T.S. was - and remains - a monumentally bad film, but therein lies whatever charm it possesses. It revels so unabashedly in its crumminess that it's nearly irresistible. It's not like anyone involved thought they were doing Shakespeare. Where else will you find:

-A topless skydiver named "Boom Boom";
-Former Playmate Pamela Jean Bryant lip-synching poorly to some maudlin ballad;
-Partridge Family alum Danny Bonaduce romping around in nothing but tiny briefs;
-A gleeful wet T-shirt contest that culminates in a fierce disco-dancing battle between two babes;
-Danny Bonaduce making out with a seal;
-A jock strap raid;
-A gangster dressed in an unconvincing robot costume;
-A strip football game played between two sororities;
-And best of all, at least three songs sung by Bonaduce.

That final component is the reason H.O.T.S. has remained stuck in my head for so many years. During the disco scene, we hear the strains of Bonaduce's classic tune "Shake It". The lyrics follow in their entirety: "Shake - shake it - shake it up, shake it up - shake it!" H.O.T.S. is worth owning if just to get that brilliant piece of music in my collection. (By the way, Anchor Bay will soon provide another classic movie song when they release Goodbye Emmanuelle next winter - I love that theme almost as much as I adore "Shake It"!)

Although the preceding text may seem sarcastic or facetious, I assure you it's not. I was genuinely excited when I saw H.O.T.S. on the Anchor Bay release roster, and I'm damned pleased to own a copy of it. The film itself is incredibly amateurish, from the hideous acting to the poor dialogue to the lack of story structure. The filmmakers are so inept that they couldn't even stage scenes in a hot air balloon without leaving the tether lines obvious.

And yet, I still love this hunk of junk. H.O.T.S. offers a lot of pleasure for the "so bad it's good crowd", and raging he-men like myself won't deny that the frequent nudity added some zest. H.O.T.S. is a genuinely terrible movie, but it'll remain proudly in my collection for years to come. Shake it up!

The DVD:

H.O.T.S. appears in its original theatrical aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Although it appears a bit bland and displays some flaws, I thought the picture looked surprisingly strong for an older, low-budget effort like this.

Sharpness seems consistently crisp and well-defined. On occasion, a few scenes appeared slightly fuzzy or soft, but these were the exceptions and occurred only rarely. Moiré effects were few and far between, and I noticed similarly few problems with both jagged edges and the anamorphic downconversion on my 4X3 TV. The print itself featured very few flaws. Some moderate grain popped up at times - bright scenes displayed the most - but other than that, I only saw very rare speckles and a nick or two; in general, the film looks nicely clean and fresh.

Colors seemed largely accurate and solidly saturated but suffered from the movie's overall bland appearance, as did the black levels; those were decently deep and dark but nonetheless the entire image looks vaguely flat and ordinary. There's nothing overly wrong with either area except they don't seem as distinct as they should. Shadow detail is a noticeable weakness, but a mild one; some darker scenes display goods visibility, but most appear slightly thick and opaque. Still, despite a few concerns, I was quite pleased with the image of H.O.T.S., as it presents a much better-looking picture than it probably should.

Much less positive is the pretty bad monaural audio. Overall, the sound seemed rather harsh and shrill, especially in regard to dialogue. At best, speech appears flat and dull, but at worst it comes across as pretty distorted; it always remained fairly intelligible, however, which is good because Anchor Bay failed to add subtitles to this film. (Actually, unless my TV isn't working correctly, H.O.T.S. doesn't even offer closed captioning. C'mon, Anchor Bay, offer at least one of the two! To lack either feature really seems inconsiderate of folks with hearing problems.)

Effects and music appear slightly clearer and smoother than the dialogue, but not by a lot. Effects play a minor role in the film, so it doesn't seem all that terrible that they seem bland and thin. The music of H.O.T.S., on the other hand, is much nearer and dearer to my heart; hell, if I didn't so love "Shake It" I wouldn't have half my affection for the film! Although the music presents a minor thump from the low end, it seems pretty dull and drab, and also can be slightly distorted. Granted, I'd rather have a not-great-sounding rendition of "Shake It" to nothing, but I still found the poor audio of H.O.T.S. to be a disappointment.

I can't say that the paucity of supplemental features also disappointed me, since I really expected nothing - it's amazing enough that H.O.T.S. warranted a DVD release - but I sure wish we received more than just the trailer. Granted, it's a good trailer, since we hear a snippet of a Bonaduce-sung tune not in the film, but I want more! An isolated music track, a separate recording of the songs in their entirety, or even a Bonaduce audio commentary - you know that dude can talk! - would have added greatly to the package. Oh well!

Anchor Bay got a little happy with their chapter names, and I still can't decide if this is good or bad. Except for the first two, each of the 28 chapters includes the word "hot" in its description. Thus, we find "How Hot!", "Hot to Trot", "Hot House", etc. This is cute, and I have to give them an "A" for effort, but it makes many of the chapters' contents unrecognizable; I've seen the movie a few times but "Nice 'N' Hot" or "Hot & Cold" don't tell me a whole lot about what's in those scenes, and isn't that the point of chapter titles?

In any case, I remain delighted simply to be able to once again revel in the goofy delights of H.O.T.S.. The movie remains a typical example of late-Seventies Animal House sex humor, but it's lovably crummy. The DVD includes pretty good picture but the sound and supplements are weak. Still, how can I not recommend H.O.T.S.? No one should go to their grave without hearing "Shake It" at least once, and to be able to have it in all its digital glory is a treat. Go H.O.T.S.!

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