"GORP" might be a suitable name for the Son of Trog, Rodan or Orca, but it's evidently meant to suggest some indefinable rude noise. The relentlessly obnoxious farce now hoping to attract unwary, anything-for-a-laugh moviegoers with this belch of a title turns out to be an hour and a half of clamorous, amateurish slapstick. If you found "National Lampoon's Animal House" too sophisticated, "Meatballs" too likable and "1941" too stodgy, there's a humiliating chance that "GORP" is the low comedy for you.
A repetitive hodgepodge of shouting matches, food fights, practical jokes and sexual assignations provoked by the waiters at a summer camp, cleverly dubbed Camp Oskemo, "GORP" was obviously trumped up in craven imitation of "Animal House." The irrepressible boy waiters are billeted at a tumbledown lakeside lodge resembling the facade of Delta House, only rattier. In a similar respect, the mischief-making ringleaders -- Michael Lembeck, Philip Casnoff and Dennis Quaid -- are encouraged to suggest coarsier versions of "Animal House" prototypes.
Quaid, now fairly well known for his performance as the hotheaded friend in "Breaking Away," has been cast as a military fanatic who's also one of the boys, a cross of the Mark Metcalf character in "Animal House" with the fun-loving, antisocial Delta types. Although the pratfalling, shrieking circumstances and Joe Ruben's messy direction tend to militate against anyone rising above the facetious clutter, Quaid shows bursts of comic originality and authority. One of the few deft sight gags in the film is his slicing of a cigar clenched between his teeth with an accidental flick of a riding crop.
Fran Drescher, the comic discovery of "American Hot Wax," continues to suffer casting misfortune. Last week she turned up in "Hollywood Knights" in a Beverly Hills retread of the fussy, nasal type she seemed to embody so freshly while playing Alan Freed's secretary. She gets to be the camp slut in "GORP," but it's not the sort of change of pace anyone is likely to regard as enviable.
There are indications that Camp Oskemo was originally envisioned as a Jewish establishment. The resident chaplain is a shy rabbi, one of the sexually active girls describes herself smugly as a Jewish American Princess and remnants of excruciating ethnic humor litter the comic junkheap.
The parents of the J.A.P. are exploited for kneejerk ridicule when they recoil at her summer lover, a Puerto Rican waiter. One of the ugliest interludes in a fundamentally wretched show contrasts Drescher's successful effort to seduce the rabbi withe unsuccessful efforts of Lembeck and Casnoff to molest an obese nurse, all in the interests of settling a bet to decide who's got more sex appeal with an unappealing partner.
Although it was shot early in 1979, "GORP" didn't get into release last summer, leaving the market clear for the sweet-tempered and vastly superior "Meatballs," which has now been reissued. It appears that the footage of "GORP" may have been in such a tangle that it took editors more than a year to slap even this excruciating assemblage together.
"GORP" may also be vaguely regretted as a swan song for the old American International Pictures. I gather it's one of the last things produced by Samuel Z. Arkoff before selling the company he helped found to Filmways and going into retirement. One of the rare ingratiating interludes in "GORP" shows the campers watching a screening of "I Was a Teenage Werewolf," a definitive production of the early AIP.
Taste and standards appear to be declining even at the level of schlock exploitation for the juvenile trade. The clips from "Werewolf" seem as superior to "GORP" -- in terms of content as well as craftsmanship -- as the clips from "Dumbo" did in the midst of "1941." The thought that excerpts from "GORP" might be recalled nostalgically in some sub-GORPian entertainment of a generation hence is enough to curdle the blood.