I think I forgot to mention before that the Horror Express tour ended at The Royal with a screening of Class of 1984 with Lisa Langlois in attendance. Just as an aside, if you ever want to hear an unvarnished account of the film business, go to a Q&A with Langlois. She pulls no punches and gives no shits. Anyhoo, on the heels of that movie, I watched my similarly-themed VHS of The New Kids.
After their parents' deaths, Loren & Abby (Shannon Presby & Lori Loughlin) move to Florida to live with relatives, but almost immediately clash with a gang of thugs at their new school led by Dutra (James Spader).
Made five years after his seminal slasher Friday the 13th, Sean S. Cunningham put together a pretty impressive cast of up-and-comers for this movie, not only featuring the likes of Loughlin and Spader, but also Eric Stoltz (presumably right after his time on Back to the Future) & John Philbin in supporting roles.
It was pretty amazing to see how closely Class of 1984 and The New Kids lined up together. You switch out the teacher with the two teens and they follow the same beats, especially in terms of the escalation. Of course, this could be said for a lot of other eighties flicks as I guess there was a template.
|Shannon Presby (right) & John Philbin in The New Kids.|
Spader was unhinged in this role. Him and his crew were some of the most unpleasant characters I've seen in a while. I found the way he and Gideon (Philbin) carried themselves especially vile because it reeked of an energy that is still ever present today. I read an article earlier this week about how Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver was an early figure of the “in-cel” movement. I put forth that Dutra & Gideon are two more. While the ideology may not entirely match up, their interactions with Abby certainly support this idea.
|James Spader & Lori Loughlin in The New Kids.|
As you might expect, this was an ugly film. People were assholes, just because they could be. Dutra and his gang were the king shits and things got out of hand when the “new kids” not only wouldn't back down, but actively pushed back. It all led to a pretty bloody climax at an amusement park. Spader shot his own attack dog in the face with a shotgun!
All in all, though formulaic, Cunningham's The New Kids was pretty solid. Plus, seeing Tom Atkins run in slow motion was worth the price of admission alone.