New on Blu in vintage VHS-Style packaging, an underappreciated cult classic from the director of FRIDAY THE 13TH
Loren (Shannon Presby) and his sister Abby (Lori Loughlin) are the new kids in town.
After their parents are killed in an accident, the siblings are taken in by their Uncle Charlie and Aunt Fae to live in their rural community in Florida. Uncle Charlie is the owner of Santa’s Funland, a dilapidated amusement park that he hopes to renovate and reopen.
While both Loren and Abby prove to be popular at their new school and even hit it off with their fledgling romantic interests (Paige Lyn Price, Eric Stoltz), they are almost immediately targeted by local troublemakers who place a wager on which member will bed Abby first. The handy term “toxic masculinity” hadn’t been coined yet, but it’s the perfect descriptor for these bullies. When she shoots down their hyper aggressive advances, they quickly turn to terrorizing both siblings.
Heading up the gang is Dutra (James Spader), a psychotic bully who instigates a personal feud with Loren and leads the group in escalating incidents of vandalism and intimidation, eventually turning to violence. Interestingly, and as a testament to Spader’s range, it’s the opposite role of the bullied teenager that he played in Tuff Turf, which released just a week before The New Kids.
The movie moves along somewhat as you might expect for a movie about high school bullying, but then turns the dial from The Karate Kid to Straw Dogs in the last act as Dutra and his miscreants storm Santa’s Funland on an armed and coke-fueled mission to rape, kill, and destroy. But as the audience knows from the film’s intro, Loren and Abby’s dad (Tom Atkins) was a military man who took them through his PT regimens, and they’re more than ready to meet the challenge.
It’s that surprisingly energetic last act where The New Kids turns the corner from good to great, its violent conclusion reminding us that director Sean S. Cunningham is the man behind Friday the 13th. This is a really entertaining and unique film that has never been particularly heralded but is definitely worth seeking out.
New on Blu-ray from Mill Creek, The New Kids comes with a handsome vintage VHS-style slipcover. Alternate artwork appears on the case. It’s a very cool looking package – click through the image carousel to see the details.
Special Features and Extras
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Except where noted, all 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the disc(s) in question with no editing applied, but may have compression or resizing inherent to file formats and Medium’s image system. All package photography was taken by the reviewer.