Judge David Johnson enjoyed the heck out of this '80s tale of teen angst-turned-super-awesome-revenge saga.
I have never heard of this movie…
…but it's kick-ass.
Facts of the Case
Two siblings, Abby (Lori Loughlin, Full House) and Loren (Shannon Presby) have just experienced a gut-wrenching tragedy: their beloved parents have died in a car accident. Now the two find themselves in the Deep South, living with their aunt and uncle, proprietors of a gas station and an in-progress amusement park.
It's not long before Abby and Loren grab the attention of the local gang of tough nuts, led by the diabolical Eddie Dutra (James Spader, Stargate). Drawn to Abby's virginal beauty, Eddie embarks on a malevolent mission to deflower her. But Abby's not down with the bad-boy image and repeatedly stonewalls his attempts.
When Loren steps up as the chivalric big brother, he enflames the situation, prompting Eddie and his scummy friends to let loose a spree of violence and vandalism. The mayhem culminates in Abby's kidnapping. The intentions of the boys—now coked-up and armed—anything but benevolent.
What lies ahead is a night of brutality and a balls-to-the-wall reckoning dished out by the new kids!!!
Yeah, this is what I'm talking about! The New Kids, directed by Sean S. Cunningham, the auteur of Friday the 13th, is a hugely entertaining thriller that just gets completely down with its bad self. Everything worked for me with this flick. The characters, the pace, the action, the sweet climactic comeuppance, all of it—great.
Lori Loughlin and Shannon Presby are endearing as Abby and Loren, two stand-up kids who stand up for themselves. It was refreshing to see teens written this way. Abby is level-headed, recognizing that the bad dudes aren't hot, just crazy in the head. Because she rebukes them from the get-go, her plight is that much more dramatic; she wasn't stupid enough to willfully embroil herself in their nuttiness so you unequivocally pull for her.
And Loren is a total bad-ass. Shannon Presby, able to overcome the considerable disadvantage of having a girl's name playing a male character with a girl's name, comes out as a total stud throughout this flick. He's this wholesome Alpha-male character who does some surprising things. For one, he never backs down from Eddie, even going as far as breaking into his house, tying his hands, holding a blade to his neck, and stealing money to pay for the car Eddie's crew vandalized. If you think that's sweet, wait until you see him open up a can at the finale. More on that later.
But who walks away with scene after scene is James Spader. With his bleached blond hair and staccato drawl, he looks like the high school version of Max Zorin. This guy's psychopathic villain is awesomely evil. Make no mistake, this dude isn't some conflicted, misunderstood teenager—he's a thoroughly rotten individual, as is his redneck chums, which, of course, makes the retribution that befalls them that much more satisfying.
About said retribution? I won't spoil anything, but the final twenty minutes, which transpire in the amusement park, is as viscerally entertaining as most action movie finales I've seen. Lots of tension combined with creative methods of dispatch and one awesome Final Bad Guy Death end this surprisingly cool movie on a grand note.
The New Kids is presented in a decent 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Colors hold solid throughout, and the dirt is minimal. The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mix is adequate. No extras.
A real perk of this gig is stumbling upon gems like The New Kids. Boasting interesting characters, strong acting from young, recognizable faces, and some dope action, this flick delivers the goods. Strongly recommended.
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