What do BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA’s Lo-Pan, THE GIRL NEXT DOOR and POLICE ACADEMY GIRLS all have in common? TEEN LUST! This bizarre, suburbia damning sex-comedy was directed by prolific actor James Hong (Lo-Pan) and was released under various titles including the aforementioned two. And this isn’t some weird career misstep for the character actor turned once-in-a-while director (who also made the batshit crazy horror flick THE VINYARD), it’s a strangely liberating sexploitation oddity that features sub-plots involving mental retardation, adoption and ‘contraceptive foam’. And it just might become your new favorite movie to quote, with such gems as “I keep having dreams where I’m being raped…not just by men”.
What. The. Fuck. You’ll be asking that a lot throughout TEEN LUST’s 89 minute run-time. For an era that was endlessly churning out content fit for the grindhouse with every ‘sploitation possible, TEEN LUST seems to add a few new ones to the mix. Did you ever want to see a young girl –she looks about 35 – almost get seduced by a special needs kid? TEEN LUST has that. Did you ever want to see a bunch of 10 year olds nearly topple a car that a couple are making out in and then chase the girl into a field and pull a little LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT action on her? No, neither did I, but TEEN LUST hast that too. I’m not sure if there’s anything that it doesn’t have. Drunken mother? Check. Random drag? Check. Adoption sub-plot that never gets resolved? Check. It’s no wonder that this thing has been re-titled a half dozen times.
The history of the sexploitation film is pretty murky, with nudist films leading into ‘nudie cuties’ and then things getting darker – thanks to Russ Meyer and Doris Wishman – with ‘roughies’ and, the most sinister of all, ‘ghoulies’. But eventually, Hollywood capitalized (and stopped censoring everything) and all of the ‘sploitation just turned to genre cinema, with the sex-comedy filling the gratuitous nudity void in spades. By 1979 – when TEEN LUST was released – the sex comedy had already been around for a few years, with major studios releasing titles like EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX *BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK and BOB & CAROL & TED & ALICE. The teen comedy craze – which would naturally be predicated on sex – wouldn’t really hit Hollywood until the early ‘80s when the likes of FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH and PORKY’S would be released, but none of them would be as crazy as TEEN LUST.
TEEN LUST almost serves as a sort of transitional period between sexploitation and the Hollywood stylings of the sex-comedy. It has enough bare skin to please the grindhouse crowd but it is also needlessly plot heavy, something that would become a hindrance for many comedies of the 80s. But what really sets it apart from everything that came before and after it, is how mean it manages to be. Nobody is safe in TEEN LUST and at times it borders on becoming another rapey ‘sploitation flick, only to make us laugh at the special needs kid – who also happens to be a millionaire – seconds later. They don’t make ‘em like they used to.