The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at] I'd love to check out what you got. And check out my book, Chad in Accounting, over on Amazon.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

South Beach Academy (1996)


Our buddy Seth over at Lost Video Archive has organized a week dedicated to the films of James Hong, and among the many blogs he invited to join him, the DTVC was one. I jumped at the chance-- I mean, who doesn't love James Hong? And I had a few of his films already on my radar, including this one, which also starred DTVC favorite Corey Feldman.

South Beach Academy is about a (in)famous school on Miami's South Beach that teaches classes on how to enjoy oneself in the sun and surf. It's run by Grandpa Munster, uncle to Harry and Billy (Corey Feldman). Harry has been down there for a while, and is very popular with the locals; while Feldman has just shown up from North Dakota, and ready to get after it. Not so fast though, Grandpa Munster is a bit of a gambling man, and he's into local mob moss Johnny Staccato (the great James Hong) for a huge bet that, if he loses, will force him to forfeit the academy. Well, Harry and Feldman can't let this happen, so they do everything in their power to defeat Staccato. Will it be enough?


Based strictly on USA Up All Night nostalgia, this is pretty sweet. It's exactly the kind of thing you'd see on there at like 3AM, only on USA, all the boobs would've been blurred out. And there are tons of boobs in this, so it's like USA Up All Night plus. On the other hand, as far as a beach romp type film goes, this is woefully inadequate. There's really no romping going on. A movie like this should be following in the steps of Porky's, but instead, it's more like that Saved by the Bell season they spent working at that resort with Leah Remini. That's kind of too bad, because Hong was hilarious, Grandpa Munster was tons of fun, and who knows what Feldman was, but he was great too; but all of that is wasted on a bad plot about some Harry guy and the volleyball playing woman he has his heart set on.

We might as well start with Mr. Hong, since the week and this post is dedicated to him. He was easily the funniest person in the cast. In fact, had he had better material, he might have been even more funny. This film does one of those deals where it kind of starts at the end then goes back to the beginning and spends the next 70 minutes getting back to the start that's really the end. Anyway, at the beginning (that's really the end), our hero, Harry, encounters Hong in a bedroom in Hong's yacht, where he has some girl bound and gagged on his bed, and he's tickling her and whatnot. We find out later that she's our hero's girl, and it's really just a damsel in distress scenario; but it would've been so great if she was just some random girl he was doing that with while Harry stumbles onto him, which is what I thought originally. The crazier the better in a romp picture, and this movie was just too afraid to go there.


Corey Feldman was all over the place. Like the USA Up All Night nostalgia factor, we also have a high Feldman novelty factor too. There's nothing wrong with that. Maybe his jokes aren't that funny-- though some of them were--, do I care? I'm just loving that we have Corey Feldman in this. The mid-90s Feldman DTV flicks were always fun, and, while this movie could've been better-- and could've had more Feldman-- it still has that mid-90s Feldman feel that I'm looking for when I see his name on a film like this.

This is our third volleyball film at the DTVC, the other two being the C. Thomas Howell classic Side Out, and the David Charvet flick Beach Kings. Side Out, obviously, is the greatest volleyball movie of all time, so this would've had trouble compared to that; and Beach Kings was pretty painful, so saying this was better isn't saying much. This should've been the ultimate beach volleyball romp, and it never got there, which was very disappointing.


Finally, how can I not mention Grandpa Munster? He was fantastic. He was like 73 at the time, hitting on all kinds of women, making tons of great Don Rickles-esque jokes. The problem is, again, he was only scratching the surface of what you'd want a dirty old man Grandpa Munster to be doing in a romp-style movie. You need to turn him loose in something like this, and they never quite did it. Also, we had some Ron Jeremy as a sleazy strip club owner. In true wasted romp style, his comeuppance is the barely-an-afterthought shove into the pool. Come on, really? No elaborate prank?

Ultimately though, for me anyway, the USA Up All Night nostalgia makes this a yes despite its shortcomings. In 1996, if I were coming home at 3AM, with blurred vision and trying to keep the room from spinning so I could sleep without getting sick, this would've been a pretty fun deal. A sober me in 1996, maybe notsomuch; but a sober me now can appreciate it, and it is a little fun blast from the past.

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  1. I recently watched this streaming and I just don't know what to say about it. Hong and Grandpa were great but it was a mess of a movie. Granted I saw it back to back with Miracle Beach and some other similar junker...

  2. Totally agree with your review. This is a perfect movie for 3am. It definitely needed more Hong and Feldman though.

  3. I just gave you an award: