Judge David Johnson is a cool guy in a hot car.
The world's greatest threat? Islamic terrorists? Rogue countries with nuclear weapons? Bird flu? They pale in comparison to…teenagers!
From Johnny Legend, described as a "video maverick" on his website, comes this collection of black and white scare reels and trailers for exploitation features from the '40s, '50s and '60s. Though it's nothing more than a curiosity, Johnny Legend's collection is good for a few laughs at the expense of the days of yore.
Teenage Devil Dolls
This feature runs just south of an hour and tackles the creeping danger of reefer, man! Young Cassandra is confused young woman, bouncing from foster home after foster home, until she finally lands in the clutches of some unsavory teenage types. They promptly get her hooked on marijuana and she gradually eases herself into heroin. Oh yeah, it's the scene, and Cassandra and her leather-jacket-wearing, motorcycle-riding, hair-parting bad boys burn through their days with dancing, smoking and I'm assuming some sort of illicit physical contact.
Yeah, this is all pretty funny, but when the novelty wears off after the first ten minutes I'm not sure how much amusement you'll be able to squeeze out of it. The entire film is dialogue-free and narrated by a Dragnet-sounding guy who uses way too many adjectives. There's no story so to speak, just Cassandra embroiling herself in a series of bad experiences and the narrator condescendingly warning the viewing audience not to travel down the same dark path.
Here's another sixty-minute dose of old-school social propaganda, with title cards screaming at us about the sinister machinations of teenagers out of control. This section of the disc brings together a series of government shorts and previews all aimed at—I assume—compelling parents to lock up their teenaged children in the broom closet and slip tortilla shells under the door to feed them.
There's a lot of crazy, funny stuff, most of which features hard-partying teens (read: white kids hanging out at the beach) and smirking Fonzie-types driving "hot cars." The way that out-of-control adolescence is characterized as utter horror is hilarious. Suddenly, "back-seat dating" and breaking curfews has been elevated to the same sinister status as killing pets or committing espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union. Toss in a few bizarre odds and ends like a family going to their African-American housekeep, beseeching her for advice on Christianity and the dangers of pajama parties (?!) and you've got yourself a fun collection of throwback oddities…
…which, unfortunately, doesn't boast a great deal of staying power. Teenage Devil Dolls is interesting for a little while and assuming that you stick with it for the duration I doubt you'd ever sit through it again. I won't. Teenage Confidential has a bit more shelf life mainly because it's not as boring and contains the kind of loopy tidbits I'd show to bored houseguests. That doesn't lift the disc out of the mildly-entertaining-diversion category, however, even with the bonus footage packed into the extras. In the end: it's worth a look, but worth a purchase? Not unless you're hell-bent on having every bizarre DVD release in your collection.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Legend House
• Bonus Footage
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