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The Virgin Queen of St. Francis High

1987, Starring Joseph R. Straface, Stacy Christensen, J.T. Wotton, Lee Barringer, Anna Lisa Iapaolo. Directed by Francesco Lucente.

Guest review by Brett Holmes

Grab any random stack of teen comedies from the 1980s, and at least half of them will revolve around a band of horny male Screwballs that show off their Hot Moves in hopes of finally Losin It. Obviously geared towards the male rental crowd, most of these films have only one goalpleasing their target audience with bare-skinned beauties, lascivious plots and a fair share of toilet humour.

The Alberta-shot The Virgin Queen of St. Francis High takes on the always relevant subject of v-cards on behalf of both sexes with a tamer, female-oriented tone than its hilariously foul R-rated peers. Thats not to say guts aren't occasionally busted during the 89-minute runtime of this tax shelter comedy, but all the laughs are purely unintentional.

In a bar apparently full of high schoolers (the legal drinking age is 18 in Alberta, after all), Mike (Joseph R. Straface) loses a game of pool to his British-accented rival, Randy (Lee Barringer). Dejected, he turns his attention to Diane (Stacy Christensen), an angelic high school cherry. Sensing another money making opportunity, Randy coaxes Mike into a $2,000 bet that he wont be able to get Diane to spend the night with him at the local love spot, Paradise Bungalows. Brimming with feelings for Diane, Mike and his sidekick Charlie (J.T. Wotton) conjure up a plot to win the girl and the money, but its ultimately unsuccessful. Feeling sorry for Mike (who models himself after the great 007), Diane eventually gives in andthrough various plot holes and lapses in logicwinds up at Paradise with him. To no ones surprise, Diane finds out about the wager and misconstrues Mikes intentions. With 7.3 kilograms of Toonies and a morally upstanding girls reputation at stake, the devastated Mike discovers that the bet may not have been as fair as he originally thought.

One of the last pick-ups by drive-in studio Crown International Pictures, who specialized in this kind of teen film before Porkys' game-changing celebration of nudity and lewd behaviour, The Virgin Queen of St. Francis High is an amateurish production that resembles a cheesy after school special with minor curse words. The acting is weak, the budget abysmal and the plot is as cookie cutter as they come. The soap opera relationship that develops between Diane and Mike defies logic and is as runny as water there is absolutely no emotional cohesion between their characters. Mikes chum Charlie is probably the most entertaining of the bunchhe actually bares a bit of a barely pubescent resemblance to Mike Damone (Robert Romanus) in Fast Times at Ridgemont Highbut he is a third wheel and only plays a part when Mike needs an accomplice.

At least the teenagers are actually teenagers, a rarity amongst these kinds of sex comedies. But this bit of integrity adds nothing to the production, especially since nearly all of the actors have only one or two screen credits to their names.

The Virgin Queen of St. Francis High is purely ours, though, and never tries to hide its setting. Albertan licence plates, Molson Canadian beer and maple leaf-adorned flags are often visible in the frame. Hotel scenes were shot at the Banff Springs Hotel (which is even referred to by name) and the Paradise Bungalows still stand in Lake Louise.

Hardcore genre enthusiasts might find solace in the mandatory upbeat, crowd-chirping ending and homemade synthesized pop soundtrack. Ultimately, however, the film never excels beyond a rough plot outline punctuated with silly James Bond spoof dream scenesunfunny bits where they couldnt even afford blanks for the guns. Hell, we dont even see the titular St. Francis High!

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