Blu-ray Review: Homework

Blu-ray Reviews, Reviews, Top Story

The key to being a great exploitation filmmaker is figure out how to alter an already released film in order to exploit a new development. There were a lot of films that changed titles to exploit a headline or trend. When Homework was originally released in 1979, it was a low budget teen sex comedy with a few named older actresses in smaller supporting roles. But a few years afterward, one of the actresses finally had a career break through that turned her into an international superstar. Joan Collins saved the primetime soap opera Dynasty in the Fall of 1981. Since this was an era before home video caught fire, the makers of Homework retooled the film and put it back in theaters for 1982. They sliced up Joan Collins’ few scenes so she appeared throughout the film. Plus to make it sizzle, they added nudity to her role with a body double. They redid the advertising and posters so Joan Collins looked like she was the star as an older woman wanting to get in the pants of a high school boy. The now superstar Joan Collins was not happy and dragged them to court. The lawsuit made Homework a notorious film.

High Schooler Tommy (Midnight Offerings’ Michael Morgan) daydreams about his future profession of being a photographer for Playboy. He’s just completely obsessed with getting laid. He even confesses this to the school counselor (Diary of a Mad Housewife‘s Carrie Snodgress). When he discovers one of his classmates has musical talent and songwriting skills, Tommy decides that they need to start a band so he can get groupie action after their first gig. In order to have a cool band, they recruit Lisa (General Hospital‘s Shell Kepler) who can play bass while on a skateboard. They also recruit Cookie (Renee Harris) whose father doesn’t want her singing in a rock band since Alice Cooper doesn’t have a PhD. Their first dream is to win the school’s talent show and impress an agent in the audience. Is Tommy going to spend the summer on the road covered in groupies? And what’s up with his swimming obsessed not-quite-girlfriend’s mom (Joan Collins) who looks at him so lustfully?

Homework has a Crown International vibe from this era without one of the characters owning a cool van. It’s easy to trash the movie since it’s not a snazzy big studio production. Dale Pollack’s review in the Los Angeles Times complained about “poor photography, sloppy editing and atrocious acting.” Pollack went on to be the producer of the nearly forgotten teen movie Meet The Deedles that hasn’t been on DVD in nearly 20 years. Pollack’s film cost 25 times the budget of Homework and made a third less at the box office. What Homework really has going for it is that this film isn’t just about teen fantasies with no consequences. One of the teenagers borrows dad’s expensive foreign car. When he drives back into the garage, his dad rewards his spunk by kicking his ass. This was rather revolutionary when you consider that you didn’t see Tom Cruise in Risky Business or Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off get curb stomped by dad for screwing up their dream cars. Another character has to get the disturbing news from the health department that they might have V.D. Homework isn’t just plucky teen frolics. These kids are getting their teen dreams popped as we watch.

There are quite a few notable faces in the movie. Wings Hauser (Tough Guys Don’t Dance) plays a skeezy coked up record producer that gets frisky with a band member in his office. His secretary is Betty Thomas right before she joined the force on Hill Street Blues. Lee Purcell would go on to play the younger wife who wants to sleep with a teenager that her stepdaughter wants in Valley Girl. That almost the plot here since Joan Collins wants to hook up with her daughter’s frustrated boyfriend.

Those two films aren’t the same since they featured the moms going after daughters’ boyfriends as just a side plot. A year after the re-issue of Homework, there would be a movie featuring an older British actress getting into a high schooler’s pants as the main plot. The film was Class with Jacquiline Bisset (The Deep) hooking up with Andrew McCarthy. The makers of Homework paved the way for MILF-mania even if they had to reshoot and recut the film to achieve it.

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The Video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The 1080p transfer maintains the grainy nature of the low budget film. The Audio is LPCM 2.0 mono and Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. The LPCM has a bit more depth to it. The movie is subtitled in English.

Interview With Legendary Producer Max Rosenberg (27:20) lets us meet up with half of Amicus Productions. He gets into what made him bust up the English based horror company. He was the executive producer on Homework. He talks about getting Joan Collins for $25,000. Things went bad when she sued over the body double and the hinting poster. He was also not happy with director James Beshears. Making matters worse, he invested his own money in the film and wasn’t thrilled when original distributor went bankrupt when the film was still in release. Homework had been a success and the box office returns vaporized. Max passed away in 2004 so it’s great to get to hear him. He does seem confused about what was going on in Carrie Snodgress’ life. The ex-lover he can’t name is Neil Young. They never married, but had a kid together. Although Max might really be talking about her relationship with record producer Jack Nitzsche which ended when he assaulted her with a gun.

Promotional Gallery (1:18) has movie ads, lots of press photos of Joan Collins, the posters with Joan Collins in various undress and home video boxes. The European VHS boxes removed Joan Collins’ photos from the cover.

Homework Trailer (1:25) is a red band trailer! We see what this film is all about with Joan Collins in white jeans. There’s also trailers for Fully Body Massage, Tokyo Decadence and Nightwish.

Unearthed Films present Homework. Directed by James Beshears. Screenplay Maurice Peterson & Don Safran. Starring Joan Collins, Michael Morgan, Shell Kepler, Lanny Horn, Erin Donovan, Renee Harris, Mark Brown, Betty Thomas, Lee Purcell, Carrie Snodgress & Wings Hauser. Running Time: 89 minutes. Rating: Rated R. Release Date: June 25, 2024.

Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.