Our most recent movie night was quite a doozy. The New Kids (1985, directed by Sean S. Cunningham) is pretty demented as far as cheesy ’80s teen thrillers go. The story revolves around a brother and sister, Abby (the sister, played by Aunt Becky Lori Loughlin) and Loren (the brother, played by nobody Shannon Presby), who go live with their aunt and uncle in Florida after their parents die. Said aunt and uncle run Funland, a carnival (slash gas station slash Santa’s workshop slash child labor sweatshop), where the siblings get jobs to help out. When Abby and Loren go to their new school, they become the target of the most sadistic set of high school bullies that ever existed, headed by an Andy Warhol-looking James Spader. Since the movie’s climactic battle scene takes place at Funland, we paired the movie with carnival food:
Mike’s Hard Lemonade
Although I knew The New Kids would be violent, I thought it would still be campy and fun (something like Red Dawn… or West Side Story). But in fact, it’s way darker than I was prepared for, but still fairly awesome. Some stray (and meandering) observations:
-This movie was written by Stephen Gyllenhaal, father of Maggie and Jake. Hopefully Stephen sexually harasses his children less than Abby and Loren’s dad does. Dad’s first lines in the movie are talking about Loren jerking off and telling Abby she has a “sexy little bod.” And remember, he is not the villain.
-I’m not sure about the representation of teenagers in this movie. When Loren and Abby’s parents leave town to die meet the President, the two teenagers invite all their friends over to… watch the news? If Stephen Gyllenhaal was drawing from real experiences, Maggie and Jake must have been fucking nerds.
-James Spader was known for playing preppy assholes in the ’80s, but before Pretty in Pink and Less Than Zero, he played Dutra in The New Kids. And instead of just being a dick, Dutra is legit evil. When Dutra decides he wants to bone Abby, he seems unfamiliar with the “no means no” mantra. You see, Dutra has a trademark: setting girls on fire. And then raping them. (Which for some reason seems to make more sense the other way around). Moral of the story, you don’t say no to Dutra.
-Spader’s gang is a riot. Not only does one of the dudes look exactly like Judah Friedlander, but their names are Dutra, Gid, Moonie, Gordo, and JoeBob. That’s one backwoods, horse-fucking group of names if I’ve ever heard one. Gid literally uses “You ever been to a dogfight?” as a pickup line.
-Eric Stoltz makes his first major film appearance as the innocent ginger who develops a crush on Abby. (A normal crush, not a rapey-pyro crush like Spader’s).
-When Abby and Loren get to their uncle’s house, nobody seems bothered that they are put to work and made to sleep in a dingy garage. The uncle is portrayed as “wacky” instead of what he is, “barely more normal than the dude that kidnapped Jaycee Dugard.”
-Two things this movie has plenty of: animal cruelty and Shannon Presby’s balls. I shit you not, when I was looking up YouTube videos of this movie, there’s a tribute vid of all of Loren’s crotch shots. Take a look, if you dare.
-Uncle Charlie constantly complains about Funland’s financial woes, and yet it was hard to feel sorry for him. Maybe if it wasn’t goddamn Santa Claus-themed; in the spring; in Florida, business wouldn’t be so bad.
-The movie’s climax is pretty incredible. After Abby rejects Dutra’s rapey suaveness, the gang follows her to Funland, where she and Loren have to fend off the bad guys one by one (not to give anything away, but death-by-rollercoaster may be involved). Loren quickly goes from bland white boy to Rambo in acid-washed jeans. Things get so over-the-top intense that you have to laugh at how happy and well-adjusted Abby and Loren are when it’s all over. Um, you just murdered an entire clique from your high school. Cool it with the smiles, kids.
-One thing people in the ’80s didn’t understand is that not every movie needs a theme song. Sometimes it fits (Footloose, The Breakfast Club, The Karate Kid). Sometimes movies even have two theme songs that work well (Top Gun, Flashdance). But most of the time, the tune is extremely questionable and doesn’t really makes sense in the movie (St. Elmo’s Fire, Caddyshack, Weird Science, The Neverending Story). Even Short Circuit had a theme song. That being said, it makes you wonder who thought putting this upbeat number in a movie about murderous adolescents was a good idea. (Song starts at 2:05, but notice that this clip also includes dad’s creepy sexual come-ons to his children, the longest training montage in a non-sports movie ever, and more of Loren’s balls).
-One last thing about our menu. Mike’s Hard Lemonade is super gross. They need to stop making ads trying to sell it to grown men and focus on their actual demographic: 15 year-old girls who just snuck out of the house and are probably about to give their first handjob.