Welcome to Spring Break
(aka Nightmare Beach)
Our rating: one lava lamp.
Information about this film in the Internet Movie Database.
There is an obvious advantage to setting a slasher flick during spring break in Florida: the filmmakers don't have to reach to include female nudity. Nudity is plentiful during spring breaks, though not a whole lot shows up in this film. Instead we have nudity stock footage.*
|"And if I keep my eyes closed long enough,
she'll turn into Demi Moore!"
It's a good thing, then, that the rest of Welcome to Spring Break is fairly interesting. The film opens with the execution a notorious biker, nicknamed "Diablo." Diablo dies in Florida's electric chair, nicknamed "Old Sparky," for murder. Diablo's execution is witnessed by Manatee Beach Police Chief Strycher, played by John Saxon. Can't you just feel that b-movie tingle?
Later at Manatee Beach, the local authorities prepare for the influx of college students who will be celebrating spring break there, or as they say, "the annual migration of the idiots." We are also introduced to the Reverend Bates (Lance LeGault), who is dismayed by the antics of his daughter, who is a very popular girl during spring break, if you get our drift. You may recognize LeGault as "Colonel Decker" from the tv series A-Team. Don't hold your breath for Mister T, though.
The annual migration of the idiots is spearheaded by Ronny, an annoying, hedonistic student, and Skip (Nicholas DeToth), a football star who blew a big pass during either the Orange Bowl or the Army bowl, the script doesn't seem to remember which from scene to scene. Skip kind of mopes around the entire time while Ronny does his best to get Skip into bed with anything vaguely female. Skip's glum, dopey demeanor endears him to a local barmaid named Gail (Sarah Buxton), whose sister died at Diablo's hands.
|So, does anybody else remember Streethawk?
Also coming to spring break is a psychotic killer. The killer's appearance is that of a biker, with full body leather and a darkened motorcycle helmet. This rider from hell also shows a fondness for electrocuting his victims, often with his modified chopper. The tricked-out chopper has a certain backseat handle which electrocutes anyone who grabs it. This would seem to be a rather specialized device, but the killer manages to use it twice. The first time is when he picks up a hitchhiking woman. The second time comes later, when Ronny drunkenly confronts the mystery man. Ronny lunges at the killer, who dodges out of the way. Actually to say he dodges is a bit of an overstatement -- he kind of lurches forward, allowing Ronny to conveniently grab that special handle and then whoosh! it's crispy critters.
As the murders are discovered, the mayor and Strycher do their best to keep it all under wraps. After all, a serial killer is bad for business. Why, the partiers might not buy quite as much beer! When Skip goes looking for his missing friend Ronny, he discovers the truth and joins forces with Gail to stop the killer once and for all. The killer, who may or may not be Diablo risen from the dead (as solemnly intoned by Rev. Bates over Diablo's unearthed grave), continues his streak of random and bizarre murders.
|Who forgot to clean the pool?
Welcome to Spring Break does have an awful lot going on, which distinguishes it in the field of teen horror. Most directors seem to think that one builds suspense by stopping all the action and playing some cello music. This film, however, takes the Porky's approach to moviemaking: pack the screen with scantily clad women and shallow humor. In this case, we'll take it Porky's way.
By all rights, though, there ought to be a payoff when you have so many subplots. The prankster who keeps faking his own death, the pickpocket, and the hooker who keeps bringing "respectable" men back to her hotel room with the "working her way through college/nursing school/law school" schtick should come together in some way at the end of the film for a final joke. A skillful screenwriter could pull this off, but that's not quite what we get in the case of Spring Break. Instead, these initially interesting secondary characters either die at the killer's hands or disappear from the film entirely.
|"I hope you had a good time, Mr. Gingrich."
Fortunately, by the time that happens you've been distracted by the central plot, which returns with a vengeance. Skip and Gail lay a trap to catch the killer, who takes the bait, nearly killing the both of them in the process. That's when the cavalry arrives in the form of... the biker gang? Sure, they're really around to catch and kill John Saxon (about time someone did that!), but they're nicely instrumental in stopping the killer and revealing his/her true identity. That true identity is appropriately ridiculous, but since when is a slasher movie required to make sense? Welcome to Spring Break is a cut above its cousins, but let's not get carried away: it's still a slasher movie.
This film is part of our Back to School Slasher Flick Special.
Review date: 8/20/99
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* The nudity in this film is all rather obviously taken from a Spring Break wet t-shirt competition, since none of the women displaying their, uh, "wares" are even in the rest of the movie. In fact, it looks rather suspiciously like the competition Playboy magazine shot for their April 1989 issue. Do we have an encyclopedic knowledge of useless crap or what? Go back!