Director – Sean S. Cunningham (Friday the 13th, Case of the Full Moon Murders)
Starring – Shannon Presby (Five Mile Creek, Crazy Times), Lori Loughlin (Full House, Amityville 3-D), and James Spader (The Office, Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Release Date – 1985
Rating – 3/5
Blu Release – 3/5
Tagline – “A new ticket of terror from the director of Friday the 13th”
Like many horror fans I found myself obsessed with Jason Voorhees and the Friday the 13th series. Those films really kickstarted my love for slashers and the “in the woods” horror films. I watched those films so many times when I was younger and when I started diving out deeper into horror I started to notice the name Sean S. Cunningham. He had written, produced, and directed several classic horror films but when I would visit his imdb.com page I noticed that there was several of his films that I had never heard of.
One such film was The New Kids starring Full House’s Lori Louglin. I watched it for the first time a few years back when Mill Creek released it in a DVD box set with other classics. When they announced a VHS slip blu of the film I knew I had to own it. Thank you Mill Creek for sending this one my way!
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows Loren (Presby) and Abby (Loughlin) who are siblings that lost their parents in an accident. They move to Florida to live with their uncle and aunt who recently bought an amusement park to restore. The kids help out and attend the local school where they get harassed by Dutra (Spader) and his group of drug dealing goons. Thinks get worse when Abby refuses to go out with him and Loren kicks the shit out of them all. After a drug fueled binge Dutra and his gang sets out to kill Abby, Loren, and their family but didn’t know that their father was a decorated solider before dying and trained them how to survive.**Spoiler Alert**
This wasn’t exactly the type of film I was expecting. Please don’t get me wrong. The film was very entertaining and another solid horror film from a very underrated director but the artwork for the film painted a much different picture. The artwork made me think this was a very dark and atmospheric horror flick with masked men terrorizing Aunt Becky but I was wrong. The film was actually a thriller that plays out like a vigilante/revenge style exploitation film. I thoroughly enjoyed that.
The acting in this one is superb which is more than I can say about the other Cunningham productions. The film’s leads, Shannon Presby and Lori Loughlin, kill it as siblings. They are very emotional when their characters interact and they show a great deal of on screen chemistry. The real star of the show was James Spader who really brought the anger out in me. I’ve watched countless movies over my lifetime that had a character so vile that I could easily hate them but Spader takes the cake. He made his character so sleazy and despicable that I caught myself almost yelling at the television. Kudos to Spader for making me look like a fool.
The story for this one is not that deep but it works very well for the type of film we get. The story is simple, kids lose parents, moves to Florida, meet sociopath and his group of backwoods fucktards, survive. This story had been done before but the effective characters and their dimensions is what saved this film. You really get into the characters. Personally, I loved the goons with the exception of Spader’s Dutra. On the down side, the film has several unnecessary scenes that makes the film drag out longer than it absolutely needs to.
Finally, the film has several kill scenes that are not the typical death scenes we see in a Cunningham film. These kills are mostly gun related but we do get an awesome scene where a dog kills someone. The effects are great as well which really adds to the deaths scenes we get. Overall, The New Kids is a slow paced thriller from Sean S. Cunningham. The film is extremely underrated and will not disappoint. Check it out.