Matty assesses the first film made by Full Moon’s sexy subdivision.
The first film made for Full Moon’s erotic subdivison Torchlight Entertainment (but the second released after Beach Babes From Beyond (1993)) TEST TUBE TEENS FROM THE YEAR 2000 was originally called — and subsequently re-released as — ‘Virgin Hunters’ until distributor Paramount baulked at the name and demanded something less risque. To paraphrase esteemed Charles Band historian Dave Jay in It Came From the Video Aisle! Behind the Scenes of Charles Band’s Full Moon Entertainment Studio (plug alert: have I mentioned me and my Schlock Pit co-conspirator contributed a few chapters to that?), at the time, Paramount were essentially Full Moon’s sugar daddy and had ponied up the cash for the likes of Puppet Master (1989), Demonic Toys (1992), and Subspecies (1992) et al — basically, all the classic titles from the B-factory’s golden age. Interestingly, it was a fate similar to what had befallen the Band-produced Dr. Alien (1988) five years earlier. Shot as his previous company Empire International Pictures crumbled, Band had used Dr. Alien in his negotiations with Paramount when brokering the Full Moon deal, and Paramount agreed to release it (as well as Scott Spiegel’s Intruder (1989) and J.F. Lawton’s Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death (1989)) providing Band dropped its original moniker of ‘I Was a Teenage Sex Mutant’ (hence the gentler-sounding Dr. Alien).
The comparisons don’t stop there though. Both Dr. Alien and Test Tube Teens From the Year 2000 were written by Kenneth J. Hall and directed by David DeCoteau (who would also call action on the aforementioned Beach Babes after being tasked by Band with overseeing Torchlight), and both films blend T&A and comedy amidst a sci-fi framework. As such, Test Tube Teens is forever destined to stand in Dr. Alien’s shadow, particularly as it’s the weaker picture. Taking longer to kick into gear, Test Tube Teens’ comedy is more reliant on verbiage and ‘fish out of water’ shtick than the bawdy Dr. Alien, and it eschews the raucous and relatable adolescent tomfoolery in exchange for a modest procession of antiquated chuckles that are mostly built around foreigners and crossdressing (in his closing to-camera address, star Brian Bremer even gives a little nod to Billy Wilder’s Some Like it Hot (1959), which is presumably the type of laughs Hall was unsuccessfully striving for). However, like Dr. Alien, Test Tube Teens does possess a surprisingly sweet centre and DeCoteau juggles the romantic tensions between time-travellers Naldo (Bremer) and Vin (Chris Wolf) and their love interests Maggie (Michelle Matheson) and Reena (Sara Suzanne Brown who, for a short period, was also the face of Torchlight’s VideoZones) with an assured yet delicate touch that cements his status as a filmmaker who can deal with youthful thoughts and feelings without stuffiness or condescension.
Utilising props and sets left over from Trancers III (1992) and Puppet Master 4 (1993) and 5 (1994) (noticeably the Sutekh/underworld set from the latter two, which is repurposed here as a nightclub inhabited by a pair of DeCoteau trademarks: people in sunglasses and chiselled hunks clad only in their undercrackers), Test Tube Teens’ plot finds students Naldo and Vin travelling back in time from a sexless 2019 to 1994 to stop Morgan Fairchild’s politically minded principal outlawing sex. While the talk of fascism and corporate control in the futuristic stuff prefigures elements of his later, significantly darker sci-fi opus Absolution (1997), in Test Tube Teens, DeCoteau is at his best when he’s pootling around Fairchild’s all girls high school. Breezy and easygoing, DeCoteau’s bright n’ light style fits the film’s leisurely but perpetually engaging tone — even if the film’s ultra steamy scenes of simulated thrusting and grunting, pruned on Paramount’s old R-rated tape but uncut on DVD, streaming, and Cinemax airings, do sit at odds with the helmer’s general delivery. Still, it’d be stupid to criticise a softcore flick for getting too porn-y. After all, titillation is the reason these films exist to begin with, and Test Tube Teens’ punchline — that an uptight person’s malfunctions can be solved by a good hard shag — is enjoyably crude and, in this writer’s opinion, pretty much right.
Followed by a couple of tardy and ultra cheap sequels: 2016’s Virgin Hunters 2, which actually began filming in the late ‘90s before being shelved, and 2017’s Virgin Hunters 3: Agents of Passion.
USA ● 1994 ● Comedy, Sci-Fi ● 80mins
Morgan Fairchild, Brian Bremer, Chris Wolf ● Dir. David DeCoteau (as ‘Ellen Cabot’) ● Wri. Kenneth J. Hall
Portions of this review appear in Matty Budrewicz & Dave Wain’s forthcoming book, “Schlock & Awe: 2,001 Forgotten Films of the ’90s Rental Realm”.
Follow Matty on Twitter @mattybudrewicz