Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Sweet Sixteen (1983)

I used to assume that if there was a slasher movie that I had yet to see then it must be one of the lesser entries in this overcrowded subgenre. Now I know that is not the case. It just so happens that a) I have still to see half of the films that I really should, as a big horror fan, and b) there are SO many "lower-tier" slasher movies that are still hugely entertaining. Which brings me to Sweet Sixteen, a film I decided to take a gamble on, having not heard of it before, and one I am now glad to have seen.

The basic plot revolves around a young girl named Melissa (Aleisa Shirley, making her film debut). Melissa is new in town and she's a couple of weeks away from her sixteenth birthday. She also gets the attention of one or two boys. So it's not too long until young boys start turning up dead. The murders perplex Sheriff Dan Burke (Bo Hopkins) and his teenage children (Dana Kimmell and Steve Antin), and they also give some of the locals an extra reason to be suspicious of, and abusive towards, some Native Americans who live nearby.

Although very tame by the standards of many other slasher movies from this time, Sweet Sixteen still manages to tick a lot of boxes for fans of the subgenre. It has the whodunnit element, it has a historic trauma that feeds into the motivation of the killer, and it spends one or two moments lingering for an uncomrfotably long time on the physical form of Melissa (Shirley may have been about 19 or so when this was made, but let's not forget that the character she is playing is supposed to be just about to turn 16).

It also has a decent cast of core characters, played well enough by the performers. Hopkins is a likable authority figure, Kimmell and Antin manage to avoid being too annoying as the kids who don't listen to their father when they really should, Don Stroud is an entertaining asshole, Don Shanks does just fine as Jason Longshadow (a Native American who becomes a main suspect), and Patrick Macnee and Susan Strasberg are fun as the parents of Melissa. Shirley isn't that great in her main role, but she's not terrible either.

The script by Erwin Goldman does well when it comes to the characters and their interactions, although it might disappoint people wanting a higher bodycount. Director Jim Sotos does a perfectly acceptable job, keeping everything restrained until we get to the inevitably busy grand finale (like so many other slasher movies, a reveal that wouldn't feel too out of place in any Scooby Doo cartoon).

I doubt this will be on any list of favourite or best slasher movies, and I am not sure why I ended up enjoying it as much as I did. But I did really enjoy it. And I'll recommend it to other horror movie fans. Even if they come back to me and tell me they were disappointed.


You can buy the blu here.

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