12 Nightmarish Questions Raised By 'Revenge Of The Nerds'
On a full moon, while working as an advertising architect for an abandoned amusement park firm, I made a poorly worded wish on an enchanted vending machine. When I awoke from penis-far-too-large trauma, I found myself in a broken world, wearing only a necklace engraved with "Amulet of Unexpected Scrutiny." When held aloft, the amulet granted me all the powers of this article about the 1984 film Revenge Of The Nerds.
Maybe you've never seen it, or maybe you haven't seen it in decades, but this movie contains more darkness per square inch than a baby's foot found in the Arby's new Smokehouse Brisket sandwich. Prepare yourself, citizen of a broken world, for a journey into Revenge Of The Nerds.
Where Do you Even Watch Revenge Of The Nerds?
This movie used to be everywhere. It's been referenced and spoofed on hundreds of TV shows, video games, and movies. If you owned a basic cable package in the '90s or '00s, you've seen Revenge Of The Nerds 307 times. The fake frat created for the movie, Lambda Lambda Lambda, is now a real national fraternity with six chapters. Bernie Casey was an NFL Pro Bowler and Image Award winner with over 80 acting credits, and when he passed away, the headlines read "Revenge Of The Nerds Actor Dead at 78" because he was in this movie for six minutes.
It had so much cultural goodwill that they made two more sequels after Revenge Of The Nerds II: Nerds In Paradise was rated "Worse than this pain" by I Lost My Family Quarterly, which to this day is the lowest score those poor film critics have ever given. Revenge Of The Nerds was at one time more ubiquitous than the whooping cough vaccine. And like the whooping cough, you can now only find it in rare, problematic places.
As of press time on this hot breaking news story, Revenge Of The Nerds isn't on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO, Vue, Xploder, CyberToob, Funbo, ToddWatch, X-Bunz, Game Boy Printer, and we'll be here all day if I keep making up stupid streaming services. The point is, it's weirdly hard to find. I live in a time when the wrong voice command can cause my refrigerator to email my breast implant visualization photos to everyone on my LinkedIn, but I have no way of watching Revenge Of The Nerds.
This fact, along with the sudden cancellation of the remake 13 years ago, almost makes me think 20th Century Fox wants us to forget about this movie. Could it be -- and this is going to sound crazy if you haven't seen the movie -- because the main character sets up the happy ending by raping someone?
"Wait, You're Saying The Main Character *Gulp* R-rapes Someone?"
Yes, the hero of this movie rapes. And there are so many reasons it's fucked up in addition to, you know, the main one. Near the end of the film, Lewis, the main nerd, puts on a mask to disguise himself as mean girl Betty's boyfriend. She then learns a hard, criminally prosecutable lesson in verifying your partner's identity before sex. I know you don't need a lecture on consent, but getting your dick in before they realize you're the wrong person is not it.
The worst people in the world are already in the comments section trying to plea bargain this down to a lesser charge, but there's not much nuance to discuss, and no one worth listening to has ever taken a nerd rapist's side in an argument. What makes this scene so troubling is that the director had to know it would require a delicate hand. This woman thinks she's having sex with her boyfriend, only for the guy to take off a mask to reveal her most contemptible enemy. And the script calls for her to be into it! How the goddamn fucking hell are you supposed to shoot that?
No one knew. And maybe it's reassuring that they had no idea how to film a light-hearted rape scene, but whatever the screenwriter envisioned got translated into a haunting POV shot from inside Lewis' mask. He and his victim go into a dark and isolated room, the soundtrack becoming his rapist hissing. In many ways, it's exactly how you would shoot the scene if it was a serial killer film and not a wacky comedy. Then, when Betty discovers it was an uncondomed stranger penetrating her during the AIDS epidemic, she happily tells him he was great and asks for his name. She didn't know his name! She should have reacted like maggots exploded from his skin and his fleshless skeleton shrieked her untold secrets, but she's fucking relaxing and getting to know her rapist!
She asks him, insanely, "Are all nerds as good as you?" This is obviously a strange thing to say, but it sets Lewis up to tell her that nerds are better than jocks in bed because jocks only think about sports, while nerds only think about sex. It's the kind of logic you'd expect from a writer who ends his movie with a sexual assault.
Even putting aside how nerds spend a lot of time thinking about robots and seasonal pollen, that's like saying penguins make the best sushi chefs because their top hobby is fish. The main character is bragging about how skillful his unattractive people are as lovers because they masturbate a lot? If that was true, all sex therapists would be 13-year-old boys. And I hate how Revenge Of The Nerds has inspired the second half of this sentence, but speaking of sex with 13-year-old boys ...
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Did Some Lady Try To Bang A 13-Year-Old Boy?
After the nerds are kicked out of their dorm (see below), they need a place to live. They split up to find a room for rent. There are about 15 of them (not including their robot), and the idea of them squeezing into the same in-law apartment is maybe the least plausible thing in this script -- which, again, includes a woman lustily asking a nerd if his friends are also good in bed after he sexually assaults her.
The entire apartment-hunting montage seems like a placeholder for comedic situations to be determined later. It's just a series of strange rejections and confusions. For instance, Lamar, the gay nerd, meets a big cranky man and runs away. Other than the concept of hate sometimes existing, it's in no way made clear to the viewer that this guy has a problem with homosexuals, so why did he run? This is, and I won't mention this another time, a script where a woman gets raped by Darth Vader to set up a clumsy joke, and the costume designer didn't have the balls to pull the trigger on a Nazi costume? I mean, grow up, Revenge Of The Nerds.
Several other nerds meet subletters who aren't very unusual or funny, until finally Wormser, the 13-year-old nerd, is greeted at the door by a horny old lady in a negligee. She instantly offers sex to the little boy. We'll never be sure whether she was going to fuck every renter who came to her door or if she only wanted child tenants and this was simply a very lucky turn of events, but the important thing to take away from it is this: The writer thought, "I should have a potential landlord try to fuck one of the nerds ... but which one? Wait, I've got it. THE CHILD."
But let's move on from the film's sex crimes, at least for a bit. Because I have some questions about how their world deals with regular crimes.
Did The Alpha Betas Kill A Guy?
When Lewis and Gilbert first show up at Adams College, they walk past the Alpha Beta fraternity, where Ogre is inexplicably dangling a man from the roof. His keen bully eyes see Lewis and Gilbert and he starts screaming, "Nerds! NEEERDS!" You might remember this scene. It's one of the most referenced events in all of human history. What you might not remember is the man being dangled from the balcony. No one does. This is the entire movie from his perspective:
They cut away before he lands, but that guy took a 25-foot fall with the front of his neck. He's fucking dead. To make it darker, Lewis and Gilbert don't bother mentioning him. The first person to speak to them at their new college says only a single word while also killing a guy, and their discussion of the incident doesn't bother including the man thrown to his death. It's just a little weird how Gilbert only says, "I think they're talking about us," and not "Holy shit, they killed that g- whoa, hold up. Is that murderer standing over his victim's mangled body as it croaks for help talking about us?"
Related: 5 Questions About Movies That Are (Almost) Too Dark To Ask
Did The Alpha Betas Violently Occupy A Dorm?
I suppose this crime is a step down from first-degree murder, but after the Alpha Betas burn their fraternity down, they charge into the freshman dorm and steal everyone's rooms. And I don't mean they hand everyone eviction notices; they physically throw them out, some of them through closed windows.
If you pulled a frail mother from the Trail of Tears and sat her down to watch this movie, she would say, "What the fuck are the housing policies at Adams College? Like, is your lease broken if you lose a fistfight to a football team? Um, hello, I think someone might figure out how to exploit that loophole? Haha, this stupid shit could never happen."
Did The Main Characters Have Sex With A Sheep?
During a fake fraternity initiation ritual, Lewis and Gilbert are handed unrolled condoms, to which they inquire, "What do we need rubbers for?" Their tormentors remain silent. Their only answer is the bleating of a sheep.
The movie immediately cuts to later in the initiation, which suggests they passed the sheep-fucking portion. Now, maybe it was a test of character, and they passed by saying, "No! Our code will not allow us to commit bestiality!" However, since the initiation was a prank designed to torture them, this seems outrageously unlikely. Make no mistake, fans of the wacky 1984 comedy Revenge Of The Nerds: Lewis and Gilbert lost their virginities to a confused farm animal while their mortal enemies watched. Perhaps now you understand the terrible curse of the Amulet of Unexpected Scrutiny.
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Jesus Christ, How Many Sex Crimes Do These Nerds Commit?
While the nerds are having a party, the Alpha Betas and Pi Beta Pis steal a farm truck and unleash a sounder of swine into their home. According to Google, this is the correct term for a large group of pigs. While we're learning, apes come in a "shrewdness," and four or more nerds is called a "dweeb of rapists." And just listen to what this dweeb of rapists do for revenge.
First the nerds break into the Pi Delta Pi house to steal their underwear. Not all of it; just enough so that they'll never feel safe again. The Pis are a weirdly nude sounder of women, so they are almost fully naked as they battle their home invaders. And remember, they live in a world in which if one of them is thrown out their own window, the intruders then own their home forever. These girls are fighting for more than their virtue and underpants. One wrong move, and they're naked hobos.
While every manner of abuse is taking place around their home, the little boy nerd and the gay nerd are on the girls' roof installing surveillance equipment in their bedrooms and bathrooms. And it's worth noting that this plan was formed after Lewis told the other nerds that violence against the jocks would only "bring them down to their level." That means that to them, this shrewdness of horrifying sex crimes is the moral high ground!
The plan works perfectly and they subsequently have pannable, zoomable cameras pointed at every pair of tits in the house, with the footage being broadcast to their fraternity's jerk-off room. Each girl there is now an unwitting star in an ongoing pornographic film, and the weird kids their boyfriends made fun of are now masturbating to them every time they pee. Every single one of them soon discovers this soul-shattering violation, and the shadow of it will hang over their lives forever.
Anyway, to get back at their main enemies, the Alpha Betas, the nerds drizzle a little bit of analgesic heat rub on their jockstraps and it makes their dicks hurt for minute. Oh, that reminds me of another question I had. It's a short one ...
Do The Football Players ... Share Jockstraps?
In an early scene, we see Takashi, the Asian nerd, laundering the football team's jockstraps. They throw them all in a basket to be washed together, and none of them are labeled. Is that the best way to handle jockstraps? How do they get back to their original groins? Most of these guys couldn't tell you the owners of the last three vaginas they passed out in, and now they're sharing sweaty athletic supporters?
Of all the sporting equipment, the jockstrap is last one that should be communal. Forty years from now, an Adams College microbiology student is going to say, "My god. The Spore Walkers ... this is where they were born, before it was ruins. They spawned from our own football team's dick fungus. No. There's a rip in my gloves! Kill me! Kill me before it reaches my miiind!"
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Who Is Responsible For Maintaining Order In This Nightmare Universe?
So at Adams College, you're allowed to solicit sex with minors, murder, fornicate with animals, invade homes to surveil nude women, invade homes for really any reason, and I swear this is the last time I'll bring it up, rape. The nerds finally decide to seek help from the authorities after the Alpha Betas throw a rock through their window. Humiliate them? Whatever. Tear them from their home? Fine. Tar and feather them after forcing them to penetrate a sheep? Fair play. But the police shall be hearing about this minor vandalism.
It's at this point, we discover the local cops not only don't care about these crimes, but they also seem to think that they don't have any jurisdiction over them. An officer tells the nerds that if it happens anywhere near campus, it's a matter for the Greek Council -- a committee of obviously corrupt students controlled by the Alpha Betas. If you set a cop show in the Revenge Of The Nerds universe, it would just be one detective hanging up on rape survivors.
OK, So How Do They Elect This Strangely Powerful Greek Council?
The Greek Council controls everything from homeowner disputes to the investigation of violent felonies, so they are probably chosen in a well-organized democratic election, right? Oh holy shit, not even close. The Greek Council is made up of the winners of the Homecoming Carnival. It's a lawless, drunken spectacle where fraternities and sororities compete in:
1) Field events.
2) A charity fundraising booth.
3) A musical show and skit competition.
I have some important thoughts on all three of these contests. First, let's talk about the field events. One of them is a tricycle race and beer-chugging contest, and the nerds flagrantly cheat to win it by giving Takashi performance-enhancing drugs. Next is the Trojan Horse, wherein one team has to shake the other team's biggest member off a beer keg. It's worth remembering the winner of this thing holds more political power than the dean and more legal authority than the police.
The next event is arm wrestling, which for some reason is the only coed event. That's weird, right? All gender bias aside, is there a single event in the landscape of all human experiences more appropriate for gender separation than arm wrestling? It seems, I don't know, suspicious that absolute power over all things at Adams College might come down to arm-wrestling a 19-year-old girl.
The last of the field events are a belching contest, the rules of which aren't explained, and an inexplicably normal one, the javelin toss. The nerds also cheat at this event by designing a non-regulation javelin that flies much farther if the thrower is comically gay. Nobody seems to mind, because there is literally not a single rule regulating any of these events. This might explain why the nerds were allowed to sell pornography acquired via illegal surveillance in the next part of the competition, the charity fundraising booth. There are no good guys in this film.
The final event to install one fraternity as the absolute dictators of the college is a musical show and skit competition. There is no mention of how this is rated, but right after the nerds are done with their admittedly awesome song, they are declared the winner. No one holds up an applause meter or asks a panel of judges for their opinion. The moment the song is finished, they just give the trophy and total control over all they know to the night's best break-dancing 13-year-old.
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So If Any Fraternity Is Eligible To Compete In The Homecoming Carnival, How Do You Become A Fraternity?
What's truly scary is that in this movie, anyone can become a fraternity. Anyone. The Lambda Lambda Lambda president tries to reject the nerds, but Poindexter points out that their bylaws say they have to take them on a trial basis. Note that he does not add "because we are undergrad students with an average GPA of blah blah" or "because we paid a charter fee of blah blah." No. The bylaws state that anyone at any time can declare themselves a Lambda Lambda Lambda fraternity, and the national chapter can't do shit about it for at least two months.
So if all this is true, what's to stop a gang of sex criminals from calling themselves a fraternity, entering the Homecoming Carnival, and cheating their way to a position of ludicrous power? You fool, are you not listening!? That's exactly what has happened! That's the fucking plot of this movie!
A writer without my restraint and subtlety might see this movie about moronic, unqualified deviants empowered to cheat by a corrupt system made of apathetic cowards and rewrite their thesis to be "38 Ways Revenge Of The Nerds PERFECTLY Predicted The Rise Of Donald Trump." And sure, it would be an elegant and perfect political allegory, if only for one thing. There is a character in this movie so worthless and disgusting that she goes even beyond comparisons to that stupid piece of shit our idiot racist grandparents elected president.
What Becomes Of A Soul When All Light Has Been Taken From It?
The character I'm speaking of is someone no one ever thinks about: the Pi Beta Pi sorority house mom. As you may know, one of the duties of a sorority house mom is to make sure the girls living with her are safe. It's hard to imagine anyone failing harder at anything. A group of unmasked men break into their home and sexually terrorize the girls under her care, and one of them charges right up to her face and shouts this:
She chases them for fewer than two steps. Her internal organs are like tiny sausage nuggets scattered ungenerously through a deep dish pizza. They plead for the surrounding cheeses and sauces to move, but pizza laws cannot be overcome by the weak will of a beaten soul. Her driver's license lists her weight as "Scale not calibrated for commercial vehicles" and her race as "Katamari Damacy achievement." But we are not here for fat jokes alone.
The intruders get away with armfuls of her girls' panties, and she does nothing about it. If she had any concern for their safety, she would at least look around to make sure there are no more rapists left in the house. If she did, she might notice any of the huge beeping periscopes now protruding from every ceiling directly above conspicuous piles of sawdust and insulation.
This useless monster doesn't call any authorities. No police, no Greek Council, nobody. She knows the identity of the suspects, and anyone could simply follow AV cables to their exact location. Then, as if she couldn't be more of a failure, all the men who did this show up at the same charity event as her sorority the very next day. They're cheerfully selling the candid pornographic photos of the girls which she let them take. And yet this is not her rock bottom.
The Pi Beta Pis set up a kissing booth at the charity, and the house mom supervises as hundreds of men lick the inside of these recently molested girls' mouths for money. One might consider this, more than anything, the very thing it was her job to prevent. While she sits there pointlessly, in the greasy center of miles of clogged arteries, up walks the leader of the gang who invaded her home to smugly demand a kiss from Betty, the sorority president.
Imagine you're this woman. You're presented with this opportunity to get revenge on the man who ruined your life. You could confront him, attack him, or reveal his crimes to the community. Instead you stand there, basting your muumuu with the closest approximation of sweat your body can make out of 40 pies. Now imagine that in your moment of greatest cowardice, you are shoved in front of the remorseless scum and someone tells him, "Kiss THIS, nerd." That's right, you are his punishment. Kissing you is what the worst man you'll ever meet deserves.
It's not over. After this beaten woman, this utterly valueless ham hock of a person, is handed over to Lewis as an insult, she smiles and waits for her kiss. There is nothing left inside this cow-souled husk other than despair and a frustrated liver. My point is, the clues were right in front of our faces all this time. Long before Gamergate and incels and Prager University and Captain Marvel audience scores, this movie was trying to tell us that nerds are the fucking worst. Here, enjoy this comic from the beloved comedy Revenge Of The Nerds:
Seanbaby is a humorist from San Francisco who normally doesn't end articles with unmitigated sadness. Follow him on Twitter, or play his critically acclaimed mobile game Calculords.
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