Saturday, November 1, 2008

The New Kids (1985)

Initially, the plan was to watch this one and review it for October but now I'm kinda glad I didn't. While there are some horrorish elements, this thing actually fits in more with my planned theme for November (80s action) so we'll go with that. Actually, this is more of a thriller with some fun action moments. Netflix classifies it as horror; It's got Tom Atkins in it (for barely five minutes), it's directed by Sean S. Cunningham (director of Friday the 13th and producer of Last House on the Left), there's copious amounts of cruelty to animals, there's a scene where a girl is stalked while she's in a shower. So, yeah there are several elements of a horror film present here. What I completely didn't expect was how the whole thing follows the traditional formula of an action film. Hero rises to the top. Hero takes a fall (in the form of a vicious mens room beat down). Hero takes out bad guys one by one in a final showdown (with a little help from Hero's sister). Here's the kicker. These are high school kids! This is like the Brick of action films.

Our story begins in small town U.S.A. as the relationship between 'Mac' Macwilliams (the Tom Atkins), an officer in the armed forces, and his two teenaged kids, Abby (Lori Loughlin of the "Full House") and Loren (Shannon Presby) is established. Loren is actually a guy if you can believe it. Don't be fooled by the names. Also, this is, for some strange reason, his last picture. I'm not sure why because he's pretty great in this thing. He's the Steven Seagal of high school. Anyway, Tom Atkins is pretty badass himself. He drives his kids to succeed. He rousts them at dawn to go for runs. He single handedly took out five terrorists on a Boeing 747 and, for his efforts, is receiving a reward from the President himself. There's no problem leaving the kids alone for a few days while he and the misses drive out to accept the award. His kids (and a few friends) eat Pizza, drink soda, and beam with pride as they watch on TV. A phone call interrupts their evening. Loren answers and quickly hushes everyone. Something is wrong. "Both of them?" he asks.

Anywho, with the 'rents dead, Abby and Loren go to live with Uncle Charlie in his Florida tourist trap known as Santa's Funland. Charlie is the anti 'Mac'. He's a fun loving guy who is always looking for his next get rich quick scheme. They always fail. His life is completely void of any thing resembling discipline. He's got a wife, but she doesn't seem very happy. Into their lives come these two kids that will melt their hearts. Their arrival also leads to the infamous "petting zoo massacre". Life is never easy and that's most certainly true in that shit hole town in Florida. Loren and Abby quickly ingrain themselves within the high school community. Loren starts dating the sherrif's daughters. Abby fends off the advances of some red neck bullies (led by the Aryan like James Spader in his second role). Finally, she settles on Eric Stoltz. Good choice in my opinion. Spader, suprise surprise, is the villain of the picture. He doesn't take too kindly to rejection so him and his yokelish gang make life a living hell for Abby, Loren, and Uncle Charlie. Unfortunately for Spader (he played a guy named Dutra), he didn't count on Loren fighting back.

I think this picture is the reason Spader was cast in so many villanous roles throughout the 80s. He's pretty great here. This guy put the "c" in "creep". "C" as in cocksucker. He's a real good ol' boy son of a fucking bitch. He gets off some great lines in this with my favorite being "What are you? Made of mouth?" Also, I loved the scene where he pulled up to Santa's Fun Land to gas up his van (yes, Santa's Fun Land is also a gas station) and ask Abby to the school dance. His persistance is incredible especially considering that he comes across as an outright asshole from the start. He storms off with "bitch, you had your shot!" His gang is really not much better. They hang out in the sticks (I'm just kidding, everywhere is "the sticks" in this part of Florida) training their pit bull to dog fight by cutting off the head of a chicken and drenching a pull-rope with its blood. They also sniff lots of coke which is something villains do I am told. My second favorite villain was Gideon played by this guy John Philbin. This guy was Chuck in Return of the Living Dead. I can't really remember who Chuck was so maybe you, my readers, can remind me. One of the punks I'm guessing. It's been a long time since I've seen it so I guess it's time I rewatched it. Anyway, Gideon is great. He and Dutra have a bet about who can bang Abby first. He asked her to a drive-in to see a movie called Saturday Night Girls that he confesses to having already seen seven times and then, aftewards, they can take in a dogfight. He also made cuninlingus motions with his tongue and then spit on her computer. I don't know Abby, they are both winners.

Anyway, things escalate. The bullies key Uncle Charlie's beloved Caddilac which doesn't sit well with Loren. There's a great scene where he breaks into Dutra's house in the middle of the night, gags him, holds a knife on him and forces him to fork over some drug money to pay for the damages to the car. I didn't expect this. The kid obviously learned a lot from Pops. I'd stick Loren in a foxhole with me anyday (and I don't mean that to sound gay). Later, he kicks the crap out of the other red necks and quickly becomes the most popular kid in school. The fight scene is actually pretty well choreographed. Loren can fight and he can act, so already he has a leg up on Seagal. Unfortunately, it's his last picture so clearly his heart wasn't in the biz. I wonder what he's up to now?

The final scene is a fantastic one. The bullies abduct Abby and begin to torture her. They douse her in lighter fluid and I half expected things to devolve into Last funland on the left. She escapes, to the funland, and they follow with shotguns but that's not really enough. Loren's a badass. Still, those red necks get in some good shots before they die including the first ever "petting zoo massacre". Lots of animals die in this picture. Molly the rabbit. So and so the goat. Ricardo the rooster and so one. They even shotgun poor Uncle Charlie. Loren gets pissed and takes them out one by one and sometimes two at a time, Seagal style. He wasn't even armed so, yeah, it's badass. This guy stalks through funland rigging the ferris wheel (rednecks used it as a lookout), diving and somersaulting to avoid gun fire, and killing without remorse. His final duel with Dutra involves the gas hose doubling as a blowtorch. Spader didn't stand a chance. Other than the offscreen deaths of the parents at the beginning, no one died until the last ten minutes or so and then they died in spades. It was worth the wait.

Not many people know of this picture I think since it doesn't have a wikipedia page and there are only a few reviews online that I could find. It's vintage 80s. Hell, it defines the 80s. Elevator music-like score (from the usually good, except for here, Lalo Schifrin), a terrific montage where they get Santa's funland ready for its grand re-opening set to a tepid 80s song ("Stand up!"), some fun fight scenes, snorting of cocaine, and a high school dance. Also, Stoltz and Spader. Hell, even Uncle Charlie (Eddie Jones) gets in some good lines here and there (to his wife, "soon enough, we're gonna be fartin' through silk." What?). I'm glad I watched this after halloween though. It's a good start to the new month. I was sitting on a few other horror reviews but to be honest I'm all horror'd out at the moment. You will just have to sit tight in anticipation of my write-up for Who Can Kill a Child? I recommend you check this one out. More, traditional, 80s action to come!

12 comments:

elmo said...

Lori Loughlin is all you needed to say. And your November theme holds much promise...

brian said...

She is scrumptious alright. 80s style.

elmo said...

Yo, this movie was incredible! What a gem- from Lori's keister, to Spader's volume 11 dousch-osity- the only thing I'd change is the late 70s chase music near the end. Keep 'em comin!

brian said...

I'm dealing with netflix issues at the moment. Those sons of bitches owe me a credit. Hopefully, my next movies ship out tomorrow.

elmo said...

I got Wes Craven's "Deadly Friend" in which Kristy Swanson is killed and reanimated using a robot's brain (yup). A basketball related murder made it worth it.

steve said...

Hate to put a damper on a wonderful, wonderful review, but I'm pretty sure Shannon Presby is dead and died young.

Oh wait - I forgot what blog I'm on! That's not the kind of news that puts a damper on MPT! Somebody just ordered another round!

steve said...

Oh, and YOU might not want to 'sound gay' about that scene where Loren steals Dutra's drug-money, but the SCENE itself just SCREAMS it!

Item 1: Dutra (what's the deal with Spader's HAIR?) is sound asleep in a fetching speedo and nothing else

Item 2: Loren not only threatens him at knife-point, but he also a) ties him up, b) ball-gags him, and c) MENACES him with the knife.

I kept expecting Andy Sipowicz to break down the door and stop the INEVITABLE from happening ...

steve said...

Please, please tell me you're planning on reviewing "Jack's Back" one of these fine days ...

brian said...

Jack's Back is a fucking awesome movie! I'll queue that one up soon. Hell, I might have to buy it.

Finally, my netflix is working. I plan on doing at least a month of 80s action followed by a month of sword and sorcery and boobies.

brian said...

Also, if he really did die, that's terrible because this kid was fantastic.

steve said...

80s action? "Superfighters"!

sword-and-sorcery? "Time Barbarians!"

(or maybe "Deathstalker II," the only genuinely GOOD "Deathstalker" movie...)

brian said...

I love the 'deathstalker' films. Unfortunately, only part IV is available from Netflix. I've got some others lined up though.

The first action review should appear tomorrow.