Homework [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Unearthed Films
Review written by and copyright: Eric Cotenas (11th July 2024).
The Film

Seventeen-year-old high school senior Tommy (Michael Morgan) has been impeached as school president, his grades have slipped significantly, and his attitude towards his teachers leaves much to be desired; the reason: he is still a virgin when it seems that everyone else around him is getting laid. He has a girlfriend in Sheila (Mack the Knife's Erin Donovan) but her failure to place in the swimming team trials has caused her to neglect her relationships with Tommy and her best friend Lisa (Cheerleaders' Wild Weekend's Shell Kepler); in fact, Tommy finds himself spending more time with Sheila's mother Diane (Revenge's Joan Collins). Discussing the dearth of substance in today's music, Tommy and his pal Ralph (Fast Food's Lanny Horn) decide to form a rock band – positing such philosophical quandaries as "Who do you do it to when nobody wants to do it with you?" (a future rapists' anthem) – and recruit Mix (Comrades' Mark Brown) whose father has a recording studio.

Lisa's a terrible singer but she can play bass while riding a skateboard, a talent which she hopes to perform for singer Reddog (The Wind's Wings Hauser) who she has written obsessively. Mix "discovers" Cookie (Renee Harris) for the band's lead singer against the objections of her policeman father (Bill Knight), and also suggests exchange student Gilles (John Romano) as a drummer but Ralph objects after he misinterprets an intimate moment between the abused teen and the French teacher Miss Jackson (Necromancy's Lee Purcell) he has the hots for. With the school faculty warning him that he will amount to nothing unless he shapes up and his girlfriend obsessively focused on shaving seconds off her swimming times, Tommy puts his all into the band; but life (and parents) toss up obstacles for all of the members just before the senior show where they will be performing for the school as well as some music bigwigs invited by Ralph's mother.

Although certainly an entertaining time-waster, Homework is frankly a mess of a film. Leonard Maltin referred to it as a "young boy-older woman sex comedy a la Private Lessons and My Tutor", and that is certainly what distributor Jensen-Farley's ad campaign would like you to think; but protagonist Tommy's sexual anxieties and how he deals with them only make up a portion of this disjointed ensemble piece that also follows Ralph's attraction to his French teacher, Gilles' domestic strife, Lisa's encounter with a rock star that leads to her contracting gonorrhea (there is also an incredibly humorously dead-on VD-scare classroom filmstrip: "A rose by any other name is still gonorrhea"), Cookie fighting with her father, and Sheila's drive to make the swim team next year. As Sheila's mother, Collins spends most of the film in the bedroom getting ready to go out to various parties while chatting with her husband (offscreen) and pausing – actually, freeze-framing – to contemplate how different love and sex were perceived when she was her daughter's age, prompting two lengthy 1950s flashbacks that serve not only as padding but also as a means of establishing the actress playing her sixteen-year-old self (Surf II's Joy Michael) as her body double in her the anti-climactic payoff scene with Tommy. Morgan – who died in 1999 at age 39 – was also doubled by an actor with a similar hairstyle but considerably more body hair in the climactic sex scene as well as fantasy scenes getting groped and stripped by groupies including an uncredited (and topless) Michelle Bauer or being administered shock treatment by stripper Annie Ample (other added nude scenes include appearances by Mary McKinley who was a casting director at the time presumably responsible for the casting of Penthouse model Lindsay Freeman here and alongside her in the SOV horror film Boardinghouse, along with Barbara Peckinpaugh who would also appear in nude scenes added to the 1983 reissue cut of Necromancy titled "The Witching"). The added scenes are inserted in such a manner that it is easy enough to picture how the scenes unfolded without them and come to the conclusion that it would have played better as originally intended.

There is no tension at all from the fact that Tommy might, and eventually does, sleep with his girlfriend's mother since Sheila is probably the least-sympathetic character in a film that includes Hauser's Reddog and Cookie's father), and it is difficult to determine whether or not she was meant to be so awful or if it was just a poor performance. The self-destructive drive to be the best at a sport at the expense of everything else has been the subject of many an after school special; but here, it just seems like a way to give the character something to do since she is not part of the band. For more padding, Tommy also walks the seedier side of the Sunset Strip and fails to rise to the occasion with a hooker. Collins gives a good performance, but it is mostly a series of monologues in the bedroom. She only seems to share the frame with Morgan while otherwise yelling to her daughter outside from either the bedroom or the kitchen in intercut scenes that do not really mesh well. Snodgrass is woefully underused here (in what was probably a one day assignment), and Purcell seems to be exploited here more for laughs than sensuality. In an early feature role, Hauser pretty much has his own "bad guy" persona down already. Beverly Todd (Moving) has a memorable bit part as the “sassy” free clinic receptionist, and the clinic's doctor is played by exploitation director Mel Welles (Lady Frankenstein).


Shot in 1979 with reshoots done in 1982 before theatrical release by Jensen Farley Pictures, Homework went to VHS and laserdisc the following year through MCA, and VCI's 2002 letterboxed DVD was only a minor improvement. In 2013, VCI reissued the film on as part of their "Spring Break Film Festival" line boasting of an "NTSC 16x9" transfer and 1.85:1 framing; however, the disc featured the same non-anamorphic letterboxed 1.70:1 transfer that did not look all that hot despite being "digitally restored to its present condition".

Unearthed Films' 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 widescreen Blu-ray offers no details about the source of the transfer other than it being licensed from Ignite Films; however, it would be impossible not to improve on the DVD edition. The new transfer does boast more vibrant colors in the wardrobe and swimming pool blues but the grading is more neutral, revealing what seems like quite an overcast and chilly Los Angeles considering the film is set in the last few weeks of the school year, some crush in the shadows and blacks, blooming and flaring of practical light sources, and some light scratches. The lack of detail in a couple sequences that utilize saturated red gel lighting seems as much due to the generational loss of the print source as the original photography which does not look all that hot even in the most well-exposed scenes.


Audio options include an uncompressed 16-bit LPCM 2.0 mono track and a lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 track labeled in the menu as stereo but just appears to be a faux-stereo offering like some of the tracks on early home video releases of certain films that presented the same information in both left and right tracks but at different levels. The mono track fares best in presenting dialogue, music, and effects clearly with some low hiss and crackle only apparent in a few moments of silence. Optional English and English SDH subtitles are also provided, with the latter featuring music and effects notations and lyrics.


Ported from the VCI edition is an interview with producer Max Rosenberg (27:20) conducted by Dennis Bartok. He attributes the outcome of Homework on the "lack of technical talent" although he is nicer here in his remarks on director James Beshears – whose career otherwise consisted of editing and post-production sound credits – than he was about Ed Hunt on the interview on the VCI DVD of Bloody Birthday). He acknowledges the film’s strengths, including the cast and the way – as Bartok suggests – it anticipates the slicker Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Rosenberg dishes about Collins – who he describes as once a serious actress who is now just a serious millionaire – her refusal to do nudity after signing the contract, and the use of the body double. Collins reportedly found the body double offensive, but Rosenberg was more offended by distributor Jensen-Farley grafting Collins' head onto another body in a sheer dress for their poster art (and that the company managed to go bankrupt shortly after the film’s release despite taking in six million on the opening).

The disc also includes a promotional gallery (1:18), the film's theatrical trailer (1:25), and trailers for other Unearthed Classics titles.


The first pressing includes a slipcover.


"A rose by any other name is still gonorrhea" and the Joan Collins' teenage sex comedy Homework is about as romantic and erotic as VD (but less funny to your pals).


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