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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents
"That's Eddie Dutra. He's about as much fun as a rabid dog."
DVD ReviewIt's a very common occurrence for a virtually forgotten film to resurface decades later on DVD. It's just not as common that such a film is actually worth discovering or, for the few that have actually seen it, revisiting. The New Kids is such a film, and one that features a cast of up-and-coming young actors who are pretty big Hollywood names today. Directed by Sean S. Cunningham (Friday the 13th), co-written by Stephen Gyllenhaal (Maggie and Jake's dad), and starring James Spader (Boston Legal), Eric Stoltz (Mask), and Lori Loughlin (Full House), this unheralded 1985 film is surprisingly fun.
Abby (Loughlin) and Loren (Shannon Presby) are siblings who have just lost their parents in a car accident. They now live in Glenby, Florida with their Aunt Fay (Lucy Martin) and Uncle Charlie (Eddie Jones), who run a gas station and amusement park. They adapt rather quickly to their new surroundings, as Abby begins dating Mark (Stoltz) and Loren hooks up with Karen (Paige Lyn Price). At school, Abby is harassed by Eddie Dutra (Spader), a drug addict and all-around bad guy, who makes it his mission to become more than just friends with her. Eddie and his friends continue to bother Abby and Loren, until a final showdown at the amusement park promises to end things one way or the other.
Sort of a combination of Class of 1984 and The Outsiders, The New Kids is a great little film that gives us a glimpse at the fine character actors that Stoltz and Spader would turn out to be. This is B-movie fun at its best, complete with bad hair, wretched fashion, and a smattering of unintentionally funny dialogue. Similar characters have been portrayed as morons, but the people here (especially Abby and Loren) actually seem to be pretty intelligent, refraining from falling prey to the classic people-in-peril clichés.
This suspenseful material isn't a huge departure for Cunningham, who helmed this only a few years after introducing us to Camp Crystal Lake. However, this is easily his best post-Friday the 13th achievement, after working on forgettable junk like A Stranger Is Watching and DeepStar Six through the course of his career. Cunningham will never be mistaken for a master director, but Friday the 13th and The New Kids are excellent arguments in his favor.
The leads are surprisingly effective, with Loughlin really standing out. Seeing her here overturns her kiddie-friendly work in Full House and her various movie-of-the-week roles. She doesn't go totally risqué, but this is one of her more mature, complete performances. Presby also does a fine job as Loren, but the actor who steals every scene he's in is James Spader. He's actually been a scene stealer his whole career, but his work as the evil Eddie takes The New Kids to a higher level that it has no business even aspiring to reach.
Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: B+
Image Transfer Review: The original 1.85:1 aspect ratio has been preserved for this transfer, which is anamorphically enhanced as well. Everything has that washed-out, 1980s look, but the color rendering never gets out of hand, as there's no bleeding or other problems. Images are a bit soft, but there is some nice detail, while dirt and grain are kept to a minimum.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 2.0 mix isn't flashy at all, but does a solid job of presenting the sound adequately. Everything stays up front, but the music, ambient sounds, and crisp dialogue are blended together nicely, making for a consistently cohesive track.
Audio Transfer Grade: C+
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Japanese with remote access
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Frankenfish, Devour, Vampires: The Turning, Kingdom Hospital
Packaging: Keep Case
Extras Review: The only extras are trailers for other Sony Pictures Home Entertainment releases.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsThe New Kids isn't one of the better suspense films you'll ever see, and doesn't even come close to besting director Cunningham's Friday the 13th. I didn't expect it to, though, which makes it all the more of a pleasant surprise and a heck of a way to kill a couple of hours.
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