David DeCoteau’s “Absolution”: Sweaty shirtless military cadets in tight white boxer briefs!

By on January 9, 2019

David DeCoteau‘s Absolution takes place entirely on an Arctic military installation where new recruit “Ryan K. Murphy” (Mario López) is actually an undercover spy investigating his friend’s disappearance while attempting to blend in with the other sweaty, muscular military-school cadets, most of whom are shirtless and wearing tight white boxer-briefs for most of their time onscreen.

You’ll find find this homoerotic-tinged slightly NSFW sci-fi conspiracy-laced thriller — originally released in 1997 as The Journey: Absolution — streaming in our Moonstone Films collection over on Night Flight Plus.

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Three decades after a meteorite destroyed much of the life elsewhere on Planet Earth we’re introduced to the handful of survivors who live in a forlorn, snow-covered colony they call “New America.”

The sweaty soldiers-in-training at Fullerman Academy — a futuristic top-secret military school of some sort — are preparing for some future skirmish, or so it appears, hoping to make America great again no doubt.

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Murphy is on a mission to find out what happened to his friend “Liles” (Charles Mattocks, in his third and final acting appearance) but mostly he tries not to look like he has an ulterior motive.

He spends most of his time trying to avoid hassles with these steroid-abusing dumbbells, who spend most of their time lifting weights and exercising, making snide remarks while they’re doing their push-ups, burpees, squats and what-not.

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Murphy’s biggest problem seems to be their cigar-stroking psychotic squad leader, “Sergeant Bradley,” played to the hilt by Richard Grieco.

Grieco is probably still best known for not being Johnny Depp on TV’s “21 Jump Street” (Grieco’s “Dennis Booker” character got his own short-lived spin-off series, however).

He gets to do lots of cool stuff here like talking to a photograph of President Richard Nixon (asking for advice), and towards the end of the movie he also gets to sniff Murphy’s towel and discarded boxer briefs.

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Murphy, meanwhile, fools around a hot blonde orphaned teenage girl named “Allison Wade” (Jaime Pressly), who bares her breasts in the movie’s singular heterosexual sex scene (dig the porn-tastic musical score).

Around the time she appeared in Absolution, Pressly — who started out her career as a model, which is no surprise, really — was just starting to get starring roles in memorable Cinemax-style softcore movies like Poison Ivy: The New Seduction (also 1997).

She would, of course, go on to have a very successful career in network TV shows we still haven’t seen like “My Name is Earl” and “Mom.”

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Read more about Absolution below.

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As we understand it — or more likely we’re just making all of the rest of this up — Absolution is the only screenwriting credit for Chris Chaffin, who tdoay mostly works as a story producer on ghost-hunter reality shows like “Ghost Lab” and “Paranormal State.”

We believe Chaffin wrote Absolution while he was still working as a traveling underwear salesman for the Duluth Trading Company (you may have seen their TV ads for Buck Naked Underwear: “No pinch! No stink! No sweat!”).

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Chaffin’s outside sales territory was the greater Pacific Northwest area, including much of Alaska, but his company car was a 1990 Geo Metro, which frequently broke down on the snow-covered highways and biways, so he was often stranded in the wintery hinterlands while the car was being repaired.

It was during one of those extended periods laid-up with no car or any other means of escape, locked up in a dingy motel room, that he came up with the story idea for The Journey: Absolution, as it was originally titled.

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Chaffin later presented his screenplay to director David DeCoteau, who apparently loved the idea of shirtless buffed-out dudes in boxer briefs in an endless series of locker rooms, which may be one reason why there’s so much beefcake on parade (DeCoteau has never made any secret of his sexual orientation).

DeCoteau was then able to secure a production budget estimated around $1.5 million, which enabled him to put the stellar acting talent we’ve mentioned under contract with a few bucks leftover for shooting this cinematic turkey.

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Imagine a movie with gratuitous extreme male nipple close-ups in almost literally every single scene taking place inside a stanky men’s locker room — or smelly locker room-adjacent rooms like the bathroom and the gym — and you’ve probably just imagined most of what takes place in Absolution.

There’s also some stuff here about an upcoming “Day of Reclamation,” and some other stuff about a galactic constellation, which occurs only every thirty years, allowing bad dude Sgt. Bradley — who may or may not actually be an alien from a dying planet — the chance to use his “molecular transport system” to launch an alien invasion, or some nonsense ike that.

Oh, and Murphy also discovers a shocking secret that may change the fate of all mankind, blah blah blah.

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As many of you will recall, Mario López is probably best known as “A.C. Slater,” the alleged sex symbol of the high school sitcom “Saved By the Bell.” This was long before he was kicking up his heels on TV’s “Dancing with the Stars” and hosting game shows and “Entertainment Tonight”-type primetime pabulum.

It appears that López was quite possibly reaching the zenith of his dramatic acting career around the time of Absolution, though, as the same year this movie was released he also starred as Olympic diver Greg Louganis in the made-for-TV movie Breaking the Surface: The Greg Louganis Story, another movie with lots of gratuitous nipple close-ups.

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Watch Absolution on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.