Sex, Love and "Bachelor Party"

As a pre-teen boy with premium movie channels I had access to all the mature-audience entertainment that 1980’s cable had to offer.  I watched everything from Hardbodies to Once Upon a Time In America (the long version). At school my friends would swap stories of seeing late-night nudity, graphic murders and gross-yet-mesmerizing sex scenes. But there was one movie where even the most permissive parents drew the line: Bachelor Party, a raunchy comedy about a bunch of guys having one last blowout before Rick (Tom Hanks) marries Debbie (Tawny Kitaen).

I managed to see this film when I was 12, and it was no wonder Moms and Dads didn’t want their kids seeing it. Bachelor Party features all kinds of debauchery: a girl-on-girl sex show with whips and vibrators, party balloons made from condoms, a donkey snorts cocaine, one party guest mistakenly screws a transvestite, a Hindu pimp threatens to have a man’s testicles cut-off, and a stuffy mother-in-law-to-be mistakes a man’s 13-inch penis for a foot-long hot-dog.  (Not to mention half-a-dozen signature gags shamelessly lifted from National Lampoon’s Animal House, and a gratuitous musical performance by Adrian Zmed!) But the most perplexing
scene (for 12-year-old me) comes when Debbie and her friends check-up on the groom. The group is led by Ilean; a dour divorcee who just knows Rick is two-timing Debbie.  To gain access to the luxurious Parkview hotel, the bachelorettes go undercover as (what else?) trashy prostitutes.  But in a case of mistaken identity, the Hindu pimp’s henchman sends them to a different party.  The girls are cornered by a half-dozen Japanese businessmen in their underwear.  The amorous foreigners don’t understand English and won’t take “No” for an answer.  The girls escape to a bedroom, closing the French doors to temporarily hold-off their aggressive suitors.  Feeling responsible, Ilean tells Debbie and the girls to make a run for it. After they’ve fled, Ilean throws herself on the mattress with glee, ready to be ravished by six horny Japanese Johns (one of whom yells “Banzai!”)

My tween-brain could not understand.

But 17 years later, I attended my first ever Bachelor party -- at a fancy Manhattan hotel (not unlike the film’s Parkview Hotel.)  The groom didn’t want anything excessive, so in lieu of getting our own “chicks and guns and fire trucks and hookers” we watched Bachelor Party.  As an older, wiser man, I could finally understand Ilean’s defining moment: it’s funny because that uptight man-hater wants to be gang-banged by a bunch of dudes. (Bonus points for the racism.)


Tom Hanks (Rick) rarely speaks of his early work like Bachelor Party or the made-for-TV anti-role-playing-game propaganda Mazes and Monsters. Today he is a respectable actor who enjoys moon-themed entertainment and WW2 dramas.

Writer-Director Neal Israel would go on to direct The Adventures of Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen: The Case of the Sea World Adventure and episodes of Shasta McNasty, The Love Bat: The Next Wave and Fast Times (the TV series based on Fast Times at Ridgemont High.)

Deborah Foreman (Ilean) is best known for playing Elizabeth Lubbock on the Growing Pains spin-off Just the Ten of Us, where her character must’ve had sex with Bill Kirchenbauer at least 8 times. 

This essay originally appeared as part of the excellent collection: I LOVE BAD MOVIES, volume II. (Though I would not necessarily call Bachelor Party a bad movie.) 

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