THE CAMPUS CORPSE (1977) Guy pledges to fraternity and mysterious stuff happens.

campuscorpse_betaboxTheme Song:


“Coming Back to You” written by Ian Freebarin-Smith, as sung by Michael Dees. It’s thrown in during an awkward love montage and is really confusing because there’s no other original music in the movie.

Interesting Dated References: There are a lot of good 70s location shots in this movie, including a bowling alley, a downtown shopping area, and a party. All dated places nobody goes to anymore.

Best Line: Said by one guy to his two sweater-wearing friends in reference to a Freshman guy — “I forgot they still built them that straight.”

Social Context: Hazing is a national epidemic and this movie brings to light the horrible script-writing produced by people trying to make horrible scripts about the national epidemic of hazing.

Summary: The movie starts with a title screen that looks like it was generated by a Commodore 64. This usually means one of the following: Either the movie was a failure in the 70s and is being remarketed under a different name, or the movie was a failure in the 70s and some company bought the rights and changed the name to try to fool you into renting it again (see also: When The Screaming Stops). Without a doubt this is a 1977 mystery movie, or possibly even some type of made-for-TV mystery movie posing as a 1984 slasher movie.

The movie begins with older brother Carl Lewis taking his younger brother Craig Lewis to college in his boogie van. As they unpack, Carl tells him to, “Not try to save the world,” in reference to when the older brother went to college in 1970. So younger brother, Craig, begins his college career by running a few laps for the coach who then gives him a scholarship. Apparently this is the old scholarship application process. Then these guys show up:

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That’s right, it’s the hot sweater-laden guys from the Delta fraternity. They invite Craig to join.

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Okay, so after the Delts invite Craig to the pledge party, they get into this van. With these shitty 70s movies, whenever a director wanted to have a party scene with a live band but didn’t want to pay to license some music, they would cast a bunch of actors to pretend to play along with some canned instrumental “rock” music that never had any vocals. Then all the actors watching the band are forced to act like they really enjoy the instrumental music. Nobody really enjoys instrumental music. Everyone is dancing like some type of Charlie Brown movie and Craig decides to get some food. Then a pledge named Barney (veteran actor Charles Martin Smith) shows up. That guy has always been pretty ugly.

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Craig and Barney team up to try to get into the frat and act like they have lots of frats to get into. This sends the resident sweater-wearing frat leader into some type of favor-rage where he helps them get the classes they want and get their textbooks more quickly. Really nice guys. Craig tells his brother he is trying to join the Delts, the brother recants some story about how he was “in a peace march” and got into a fight with some Delts back in 1970. As a result, the Delts lost their license for a year. So now we have a motive.

All the boys pack into the boogie van and head to the mountains where they are forced into jock straps to a soundtrack of friendly sitcom music. Craig and Barney are then told they have to run jock-strapped through the woods to some cabin that is five miles away. Sure as shit, Barney’s goofy ass falls and breaks his leg and Craig goes for help. When Craig finally makes it to the cabin, there is obviously a party going on (judging by the instrumental “rock” music). He gets the sweater-clad leader to leave and help him find Barney. When they do, Barney is “dead” and the domineering frat president convinces Craig they need to hide the body in the freezer at school so they can take him to a ski resort the following weekend and make it look like a skiing accident. This makes Craig so distraught he puts on this sweater:

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It’s pretty obvious the Delts are trying to play some type of prank on Craig to get revenge for his hippie brother getting them suspended way back in 1970. They vow to turn in the dead guys homework, etc., in order to make it look like he’s still alive.

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These two main Delt guys are awesome. There’s chubby sweater guy (left) and main sweater guy (right), whose name is Rod. They each look to be about 35-40 but still hang out on college campuses. I guess that’s cool. The week goes by and they hide the body and make it look like a ski accident Then Craig’s girlfriend comes to town and they go on a bike ride that must be long because some type of theme song (with lyrics) plays. They don’t even have a bottle of water so I hope it wasn’t too long. At the funeral Bernie sits up in his casket and says some shit like “Welcome to The Delts” and then Craig flips out and sees everyone laughing at him through a fish-eye lens.

During the postscript, Rod explains to Craig the death was staged to get back at the Lewis brothers. Craig has also apparently decided to leave campus for some reason. Then Craig cons Rod into signing some papers that will allow Craig’s older brother to destroy the frat house with a tractor. As I read about this film it seems that it was marketed about three different ways. It was originally released as The Hazing in 1977. I’m sure it did piss-poor and instead of acknowledging the movie was a little lost, they remarketed it as a semi-comedy titled Here Come the Delts to try to compete with Animal House. After it failed again it was re-released in 1981 as The Curious Case of the Campus Corpse. The nerve of some people, man. Clearly this film is so confused about what it wants to be that it’s no wonder it was marketed so many ways. I bet they even re-edited a bunch of times trying to add humor or take out humor. Terrible.

Poster and Box Art: Shitty airbrush job. The original poster for The Hazing is awesome, though:

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Look at that art! You cannot beat soft colored pencil images with multiple scenes from the movie. This was the peak of movie poster design and since then it’s been all down hill. Did I mention that I hate computers? The poster for The Curious Case of the Campus Corpse is okay, I guess. I mean, it’s better than a modern day dvd cover(which is terrible), but it’s a little average:

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Availability: Look at the terrible fucking cover they gave this on DVD.

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