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  Ski School Piste Off
Year: 1990
Director: Damian Lee
Stars: Dean Cameron, Tom Bresnahan, Patrick Labyorteaux, Mark Thomas Miller, Spencer Rochfort, Darlene Vogel, Stuart Fratkin, Charlie Spradling, Ava Fabian, Gaetana Korbin, Mark Brandon, John Pyper-Ferguson, Johnny Askwith, Alison Dobie, Stacy Brink
Genre: Comedy, Action, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: The season is well underway at this skiing school, which means various sections are pitted against one another to see who will emerge the victor once the session is over. The two main rivals are Section 1, led by Reid Janssens (Mark Thomas Miller), the wealthy and arrogant group who believe they are entitled to win purely thanks to their social standing, and Section 8, led by Dave Marshak (Dean Cameron), who are equally committed: to the art of the party. This sets them both at loggerheads, and Section 1 begin a campaign to get Section 1 thrown out of the organisation, but Marshak's men will not stand for that: they will ski and drink beer for that...

Ski School was part of that subsection of the North American sex comedy, the winter sports genre. Its real ancestor was from the sixties when Frankie Avalon tackled business away from the beach in Ski Party, but it took until 1984 for the style to come into intermittent vogue with Hot Dog... The Movie, starring erstwhile American Werewolf in London David Naughton. Ever since then there were attempts to get this off the ground, even though the thought of taking all your clothes off for hijinks while in sub-zero temperatures did not readily lend itself to any idea of amusement, not that this stopped the likes of the director here, Damian Lee, whose career was littered with such things.

Lee, as a Canadian, was keen to find variants on surefire box office formulae that he could employ in the land of his birth, and since Canada was also known as The Great White North it seemed an obvious choice to exploit that freezing climate in a comedy, therefore he and his cast and crew traipsed up to a resort and captured some variably impressive skiing footage to be edited into the plot. He got around the fact that his cast were not doing the skiing by having the stuntmen pretending to be them wear large goggles or even helmets covering their entire heads, a move that they apparently thought was a lot more convincing than it actually was, but, hey, they tried.

If it was the footage from the slopes you were interested in, well, there was certainly a selection of shots that may have captivated you, but the lack of real dedication to so much as playing fair in a winter sports competition by either the heroes or the villains did leave a substantial degree less to invest in. On the other hand, should you endorse the practice of getting absolutely hammered before you try any physical activity, then you would presumably be with the Section 8 slobs of Ski School all the way, though it remained a very late in the day follower of the Animal House school of thought. That dated it as the sex comedy was about to take a knock in popularity as erotic thrillers took over as the genre to give people the excuse to see nudity and sex scenes without watching porn in the nineties.

The date of release said it all: Lee was chasing a dollar from the eighties, and now times were moving on, leaving the sex comedy in the dust (or snow, in this case), to be revived with a dose of self-awareness some time later - and a lot less nudity. If you were nostalgic for the days when bare naked ladies were an indicator you were getting away with something in your movie watching, then you might find entertainment here, though fans of Charlie Spradling who was memorably unclothed elsewhere would be disappointed she obviously wasn't paid enough here to take it all off. There were other, more accommodating actresses and extras who were, but something about the way her character merrily laughed at the stupid flirting Marshak tries on her made her more alluring than, say, Darlene Vogel or Ava Fabian who took the other most prominent female roles. But really, this was a boys' movie as they got most of the jokes, not that they were especially funny, and the amount of continuity errors here spoke to a shoddy production. Sounds about right. Music by Steve Hunter.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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