THIS DVD REVIEW REVEALS A LOT OF SPOILERS!! DO NOT READ UNTIL YOU HAVE WATCHED THE MOVIE!
This movie is one of the seminal movies of not only my cinematic life, but of my life. Period. I remember seeing The New Kids at the now defunct Family Four Cinema in Fountain Valley, CA with a double feature of Friday the 13th Part 5. What I loved about this movie was that it was billed as a horror film, when it is really just a hyper realized after school special.
In a nutshell, Abby and her brother Loren (Lori Loughlin and Shannon Presby) go to Florida to live with their Uncle when their parents are killed. Their Uncle just happens to live at an amusement park with his wife. While working after school, Abby is “asked out” by Eddie Dutra (James Spader). Abby says “No” and Dutra decides that he has to kill her. Now, before you write off this movie as a “fanboy” loving a piece of trash just because it’s trash, I really think that you are missing the point. This film is highly entertaining and works on many different levels. Also, I maintain it only got released because Eric Stoltz, who plays a small role, was in the film and Mask, his breakout film with Cher, was very hot at the time. In fact, when they released this film they made it seem like an Eric Stoltz movie.
The New Kids is a great film. It is very entertaining, very hardcore in some respects and I think, very ahead of it’s time. I look forward to seeing what kind of life this movie has on DVD.
Sadly, there are no extras with this film. I would have been happy with a 5 minute “Making Of.” I would have screamed if they had included a commentary track with Sean S. Cunningham. As it is, this DVD is very bare bones but I am just so happy to have it on DVD that I really can’t complain.
1.85:1 - Anamorphic Widescreen. I love the look of this film. Shot simple with in classical style of master shots, two shots and close-ups, The New Kids is a film that doesn’t get muddled in any film language. It just tells the story and shows action and dialogue. This is pure cinema that isn’t bogged down by any crafty shots or special FX. I hope that more filmmakers will see The New Kids and be influenced by what I feel is a much simpler, much more engaging film style.
Dolby Digital. Aside from really liking the theme song, it is played in the beginning of the movie and after Loren recovers from a vicious beating, the sound is pretty normal. There is the eery music that seems to suggest something ominous, but it isn’t overdone at all. As a result you really never feel that Dutra and his Boys are that bad (at least in the beginning). While this might seem a mistake, it is only as the film progresses that you realize these guys are not going to leave these new kids alone. In fact, one gets the feeling that Dutra and his boys are so comfortable in their roles as villains, that they have done what they are doing to these kids many times before.
I hate to say it but they bungled the packaging. Visit IMDB to see what I am talking about. As James Spader ended up being the bigger star, they have him featured on the front cover with a small picture of Lori Loghlin. While this isn’t misleading, it just isn’t as good as the original VHS cover. The back features some shots from the film, and an unrelated photo of a guy holding an axe by his leg. I think this was done because the movie was directed by the guy who did Friday the 13th. There is a description of what this movie is about that’s pretty right on, a cast list and some technical specs. Since there are no extras on this movie I will give you some tidbits about The New Kids:
-According to Molly Maginnis, who I met when she was doing the costume design for Tim Allen’s new flick, The Shaggy Dog, James Spader and Eric Stoltz get together EVERY year and watch this film. She knows this because The New Kids was her first movie.
-This movie would basically relegate James Spader to bad guy roles until 1989’s Sex, Lies and Videotape.
-According to IMDB, actor Shannon Presby never did another movie once he completed this one.
This movie very much subverts the whole horror iconography of the 1980s. First off, it begins with Tom Atkins and then kills him. It takes the kids to a new place to live but instead of it being a haunted house it’s an amusement park. As result, one doesn’t know if they are watching a comedy, a horror film or a mixture of both. It doesn’t wait for the final reel to have the main characters fight back. In fact, midway through the movie, Loren beats up the entire group of people that are messing with his sister. Yet, even after all of this has played out, the film still turns things up a notch with a very action fueled ending that is reminiscent of Taxi Driver.
Thank you Sony for releasing this movie and letting the world have another chance with The New Kids.
The New Kids was released January 18, 1985.