HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Man Standing Next, The
Rock, Paper and Scissors
Batman: The Long Halloween Part One
Salaam Bombay!
Boss Level
My Heart Can't Beat Unless You Tell It To
Edge of the World
PTU
Superdeep
Insignificance
Treasure City
Piccadilly
Parallel
Invasión
Shiva Baby
Flowers of Shanghai
War and Peace
Agony
Merrily We Go to Hell
Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie's Dead Aunt)
Amusement Park, The
Lemebel
Hands of Orlac, The
Cats
Death has Blue Eyes
Caveat
Kala Azar
Duplicate
Flashback
Gunda
After Love
Earwig and the Witch
Zebra Girl
Skull: The Mask
Vanquish
Bank Job
Drunk Bus
Homewrecker
State Funeral
Army of the Dead
   
 
Newest Articles
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
   
 
  Sweet Sixteen A girl to die for
Year: 1983
Director: Jim Sotos
Stars: Bo Hopkins, Susan Strasberg, Patrick Macnee, Don Stroud, Dana Kimmell, Don Shanks, Aleisha Shirley, Steve Antin, Sharon Farrell, Logan Clarke, Michael Pataki, Henry Wilcoxon, Larry Storch, Michael Cutt, Glenn Withrow
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Pretty Melissa Morgan (Aleisha Shirley) is about to turn sixteen. Stuck in a small Texan town where her stern father, archaeologist Dr. John Morgan (Patrick Macnee) is excavating an old Indian burial ground, the lonely teenager goes looking for love in all the wrong places. One night outside a bar Melissa flirts with Native American Jason Longshadow (Don Shanks) who proves in no mood since he only just saved his grandfather Greyfeather (former Cecil B. DeMille stock player Henry Wilcoxon, in his final role) from racist thugs led by local lout Billy Franklin (Don Stroud). So Melissa switches her attention to Billy's kid brother Johnny (Glenn Withrow). They get high then make out but after taking Melissa home, Johnny's pickup truck breaks down in the desert. Whereupon an unseen psycho gorily murders him. The next morning Sheriff Dan Burke (Bo Hopkins), his son Hank (Steve Antin) and mystery novel-addicted teenage daughter Marci (Dana Kimmell) find Johnny's body. When Dan questions Melissa in front of her mother Joanne (Susan Strasberg) and father, she points to Jason Longshadow as a likely suspect. Having had no trouble with the Native American community before, Dan has his doubts but tensions flare among the local racist rednecks. Meanwhile high school boys flock near Melissa, only to fall prey to the murderous maniac that stalks her every move.

Among the more eccentric entries in the Eighties slasher craze, Sweet Sixteen also ranks among the more ambitious and even endearing films of its type. Producer-director Jim Sotos (real name: Dimitri Sotirakis) adopts a curious, almost non-linear structure. This combined with a string of quirky, semi-improvised performances from a cast of reliable character actors and a heady backdrop of teen psychosexual angst, small town secrets and racial tension, pitch things closer to mid-western neo-noir than hackneyed hack-and-slash antics. Indeed the cinematography by James L. Carter (Gary Graver, who worked with Orson Welles and directed exploitation and hardcore porn films was D.P. on the second unit) evokes some of the same sultry mid-western unease found in Blood Simple (1983). While the plotting is occasionally clumsy with a couple of stilted moments, Erwin Goldman's screenplay is fairly witty and intelligent while Sotos' creative direction (in particular his semi-dreamlike use of lab-created slow-motion shots) weaves a unique atmosphere. Sotos produced and directed numerous music videos and TV commercials through his Las Vegas based production company as well as a handful of features. His other films include Forced Entry (1975), a rape-revenge thriller with Tanya Roberts and Nancy Allen, teen sex comedy Hot Moves (1984) and unremarkable comedy Beverly Hills Brats (1989) pairing a then down-on-his-luck Martin Sheen with Mighty Joe Young star Terry Moore.

Using Melissa's impending sweet sixteen birthday party as a gimmick much the same as Friday the 13th, April Fool's Day or umpteen other slasher films, Goldman's script fixates on the intermingling of sex and death that makes this genre resonate so strongly with a teenage audience. It is a link embodied in the alluring but unsettling figure of Melissa who unwittingly lures boys to their death. Admittedly the 'destructive' nature of young female sexuality is an archaic, frankly misogynistic concept. Yet for all its leering prurience (Sotos clumsily riffs on Brian De Palma's shower scene intro to Carrie (1976) and includes numerous scenes with voluptuous Aleisha Shirley either naked or in skimpy underwear) the film manages to fashion Melissa into a complex character and explore her fractured psyche in an interesting way. Throughout the unfolding story she moves from vindictive to sympathetic and ultimately a tragic, lonely figure. As Marci points out in a later scene, boys objectify Melissa without making any effort to really get to know her. On a separate note it is trifle strange all the guys in school flock to Melissa but pay no attention to Marci when she is clearly just as beautiful.

Sweet Sixteen's great strength stems from an area where most slasher films fail, which is with its well drawn relationships. The film boasts an array of quirky and interesting characters. Particularly well contrasted is the warm rapport between Sheriff Dan and his bright, amiable kids (young Marci talks like a detective and evidently fancies herself a wannabe Nancy Drew) and the frostier interaction between Melissa and her parents. Even a throwaway subplot between Dan and his girlfriend (Sharon Farrell) radiates a sort of quirky warmth. Sam Peckinpah regular Bo Hopkins is compelling as the laconic but uniquely humane cop while The Avengers icon Patrick Macnee commands the screen in an atypical role. The lurid climax pulls several disparate subplots together in an awkward, convoluted fashion but resolves the Scooby-Doo-like murder mystery in satisfactory fashion. The closing image is pretty haunting despite the umpteenth replay of the treacly theme song 'Melissa' performed by Frank Sparks.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 1756 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
Andrew Pragasam
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
   

 

Last Updated: