Revenge of the Nerds remains one of the filthiest and funniest movies from the 1980s. It's hysterically crass in a way few Hollywood comedies dare to emulate, but it also celebrates some of the worst behavior ever captured in a film not written by Harmony Korine. There's no way around it: Revenge of the Nerds is creepy. There may be a reason that remake was canned before it even started filming.
If you're unfamiliar with the plot, here's a quick refresher: Gilbert, Lewis, and the other nerds of the Lambda fraternity avenge their cruel treatment at the hands of Stan Gable and the Alpha Betas. The irony is the nerds' behavior turns out to be far more deviant (and illegal) than anything the jocks have done. Sure, you can try to explain away the massive stereotyping, invasion of privacy, and date rape as being a product of the time. Or you can call it what it is – flat-out creepy, regardless of the decade. You might have a fondness for this weird cult favorite, but Revenge of the Nerds is bad.
When nerdy Lewis witnesses hunky Gable blowing off his girlfriend Betty at a Halloween party, Lewis does what any sexual predator would do: he takes Gable's costume and has his way with an unsuspecting Betty. You read that right. This is a movie that plays date rape for laughs.
The movie doubles down on this disgusting move by having Betty be so impressed with Lewis's sexual prowess that she forgives him and becomes his girlfriend. In the seldom-seen Revenge of the Nerds III: The Next Generation, Betty and Lewis are even married.
As part of the Greek Games, Lambda Lambda Lambda needs to do a fundraiser. Their solution is disgusting, to say the least. They put naked pictures of Betty in pie tins and cover them with whipped cream.
In one of many moments that could have (and should have) ended in an arrest, the nerds break into the Pi Delta Pi sorority house for a panty raid. But it's only a cover for their far more nefarious plan: setting up cameras to watch the sorority sisters parade around au natural. Inventive? Maybe. Immoral and illegal? Definitely.
The 1980s were not the most progressive time for minorities on screen. In the case of Revenge of the Nerds, it's especially troubling that the bigoted "comedy" comes directly from the film's writers.
Takshi mispronounces every word in the English language. Lamar does win at the Greek Games, both as a singer and a javelin thrower. But for the rest of the film, he's an embarrassing gay stereotype. And don't forget legally blind Poindexter, who's like a younger Mr. Magoo incapable of crushing ice without almost losing a hand. These nerds might have been accepted by the Lambdas, but they are still mocked and marginalized throughout the film.