The history of Revenge of the Nerds may not be a long tale. But it is one that needs to be told. In the summer of 1984, two college freshmen, Lewis Skolnik and Gilbert Lowe embarked on their first day at Adams College. They quickly found out that they don’t quite fit in. Lewis, Gilbert and the rest of the nerds, find themselves booted from their dorm by the Alpha Beta jocks. No one is willing to take them in as pledges. So, they do what any other enterprising young men of the early computer days would do, start their own fraternity.
So, go ahead, put us down one of these days we will turn it around. Won’t be long, mark my words time has come for Revenge of the Nerds!
The Birth of Lambda Lambda Lambda
Of course, finding a national fraternity that is willing to charter them is difficult because they choose to include a group photo in every application except for one, Lambda Lambda Lambda. The tri-lambs are willing to meet with this group of social misfits.
What the nerds don’t realize is that the Tri-Lambs are a historically African-American fraternity. They aren’t all that willing to have their reputation sullied by the nerds either. Of course, brain power wins as they discover a loophole in the fraternity’s by-laws that state they must grant any chapter applying for an application a trial period.
Despite having a national sponsor, the nerds find themselves discriminated against by the Greek Council. Their only option, win the Greek Games to assume control of the council and put an end to the reign of the Alpha Betas.
In the end, their mental superiority and cunning lead them to win the Greek games during homecoming. Even applying technology to aide them in winning various athletic competitions. Lewis gets the girl, the Tri-Lambs grant them their charter after coming to their defense against the Alpha Betas, and Gilbert makes an emotional speech about discrimination so that everyone on campus recalls a time in their life where they were considered an outcast.
Love for the Nerds
Filmed on a budget of $6 million, the movie went on to take in over $60 million including rentals. The cast included actors that went on to achieve tremendous star power such as Anthony Edwards as Gilbert, Robert Carradine as Lewis, Ted McGinley as Stan Gable, John Goodman as Coach Harris and Curtis Armstrong as Booger. Its popularity led to three sequels.
Nerds in Paradise
The second installment brought back most of the original cast of nerds, however, Anthony Edwards only played a small role as the Tri-Lambs of Adams college head off to Ft. Lauderdale for a national fraternity convention.
Upon arrival, the Tri-Lambs find that the Alpha Beta from another college have taken their reservations at the Royal Flamingo hotel and they are forced to find rooms at the nearby Hotel Coral Essex. The hazing doesn’t stop there. After humiliating the Adams College chapter of the Alpha Betas, the chapter from a local college, led by Bradley Whitford’s character Roger, continue to make life difficult for the nerds. This culminates in Roger proposing Proposition 15 that would require all fraternities to pass both academic and physical standards to retain their status in the conference. Again, putting their brains and ability to throw a great party to work, the Tri-Lambs host a No on 15 party and the measure is voted down.
After this humiliation, Roger and the other Alpha Betas leave the Tri-Lambs on a deserted island so they can hold another vote to expel the nerds. Ogre, played by Donald Gibb from the original, can’t seem to keep his mouth shut and he is thrown off the boat by the other Alpha Betas. Unable to swim, Wormser jumps in to save him. With Ogre joining their ranks, and help from a cache of military weapons they stumble across, the nerds head back to stop the vote.
Lewis, angered by Roger’s continued taunting lays him out with a right hook. The rest of the fraternities vote the Alpha Betas out of the conference. Ogre, joins the Tri-Lambs as their newest member.
The budget of $10 million to make Revenge of the Nerds II brought in a little over $30 million.
The Next Generation
Back at Adams College to chair the computer science department, Lewis tries to shed his nerd persona. He grows a ponytail and requests people call him Lew. The culture of Adams College changes with Alpha Betas now seeking entrance to the Tri-Lambs until Orrin Price, played by Morton Downey Jr., takes over as a member of the Board of Regents. He and his nerd-hating son join forces. These new generation of jocks and newly hired Dean of Students, Stan Gable, set out to make life miserable for the nerds.
Lewis re-examines his choice to discard his nerd past. When the Tri-Lambs are set up for possession of marijuana by Price, Lewis steps in. He asks for anyone, sympathetic to their cause, to go on strike. When all of the city is shut down, Price frames Lewis for embezzlement. Despite turning his back on his friends, the past Tri-Lambs all come to Lewis’ defense. Stan reconsiders and admits that Price set Lewis up. Like Ogre before him, the nerds accept Stan after his change of heart.
Without a theatrical release, this film did not do nearly as well as the previous two. The results can be blamed on its tired storyline.
Nerds in Love
The nerds are not done yet! Lewis, Booger and Stan all return with their original actors as Booger plans to wed his Omega Mu girlfriend. Of course, Booger does not meet her father’s standards and he tries to put a stop to things. Enlisting the help of his son-in-law Chip, the two try to convince Jeannie, Booger’s fiancé, that he has an illegitimate child.
Jeannie’s mother intervenes and threatens to leave her husband if he does not accept the wedding. Chip’s plot falls apart when the orphan drafted to play the part of Booger’s child comes clean. His wife, Jeannie’s sister, Gaylord, decides to divorce him and look for a nerd to marry. Meanwhile, Lewis and Betty, the girl he won from Stan in the first movie, are expecting their first child. She gives birth and the couple also adopt the child enlisted to set up Booger.
Revenge of the Nerds IV did not find a theatrical release. It was originally a made-for-TV movie and didn’t air as intended. It looks like people just got tired of these nerds.
The last two movies in the series failed on many fronts. But the original remains one of the best comedies of the 80’s. Efforts to remake the film died out. The studio head, disappointed with the dailies after two weeks of filming, shelved the project.