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The New Kids Blu-ray Review

Written by Robert Gold

Blu-ray released by Mill Creek Entertainment

The New Kids Large

Directed by Sean S. Cunningham
Written by Stephen Gyllenhaal
1985, 89 minutes, Rated R
Released on August 13th, 2019

Shannon Presby as Loren
Lori Loughlin as Abby
James Spader as Eddie Dutra
Eric Stoltz as Mark
Tom Atkins as Col. John “Mac” McWilliams
John Philbin as Gideon
Eddie Jones as Uncle Charlie

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After their parents are killed in a car accident, Loren and Abby McWilliams move to Florida to live with their Uncle Charlie. Charlie runs a small amusement park with a gas station and convenience store attached. The park is something of a work in progress, but he plans to have it ready soon. Loren and Abby start a new school where they run into a gang of hoodlums led by the handsome sociopath Eddie Dutra. Eddie and his boys have set their sights on Abby and have a bet going as to who can sleep with her first. She rebuffs their advances and Loren steps in to defend his sister. The situation worsens with vandalism and fist fights before escalating to real violence. Loren and Abby just want to be left alone, but will have to fight back before things turn deadly.

High school can be enough of a challenge without the added stress of being the new kid. Making friends can be hard sometimes, but making enemies is easier than one would like. Loren is very protective of his family and has little patience for bullies. He has a bit of a temper, but he keeps it under control until he is pushed too far. Eddie Dutra is an asshole with nothing better to do than cause trouble for everyone around him. He surrounds himself with morons who do whatever he says and don’t care who gets hurt. They harass Loren and Abby first with words and then move up to vandalizing their car and home. When Loren tries to fight back, it only makes things worse and Eddie and his crew are more determined than ever to settle the score. The situation explodes in a violent assault on the park and everyone inside.

With his mega hit Friday the 13th (1980), director Sean S. Cunningham will forever be linked to the horror genre. He followed up with the gripping A Stranger is Watching (1982) and then made a detour into comedy with Spring Break (1983). He returned to the genre with his tense thriller The New Kids (1985), a dark tale of violence and extreme behavior. Working from a screenplay by Stephen Gyllenhaal (Homegrown) based on a story co-written with Brian Taggert (Of Unknown Origin), Cunningham delivers a dark tale of good versus evil with a high school backdrop. The antagonists are two-dimensional archetypes and act out of pure malice without much motivation. The thrill doesn’t come from what they will do next as much as it is seeing how our heroes navigate the increasingly troubled waters.

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Shannon Presby (Crazy Times) stars as the good-natured Loren, a guy who always seems to do the right thing and is quick to help others. He has a tight bond with his sister and will do anything to protect his family. Lori Loughlin (Amityville 3-D) co-stars as Abby, the target of unwanted attention. She is instantly likeable in the role and keeps audiences firmly on her side as she tries to escape the advances of a gang of hoodlums. The real attraction here is James Spader (Jack’s Back), who runs away with the picture as the evil Eddie Dutra. In the 1980s, Spader perfected the role of smug shithead antagonist and quickly became the guy you love to hate. He oozes menace and makes your skin crawl with his good looks and terrible behavior. He owns every minute of his screen time and leaves a lasting impression with his stellar performance.

Genre fans will be happy to see a few familiar faces in the supporting cast, including Eric Stoltz (The Prophecy) as Mark, the potential love interest to Abby. He is a nice counterpoint to Spader’s goons and shares great chemistry with Loughlin, but his character disappears in the third act without explanation. The legendary Tom Atkins (Night of the Creeps, Halloween III) has a brief appearance as our teen heroes’ dad in a role that should have been larger. John Philbin (Return of the Living Dead) is suitably threatening as Eddie’s sycophant Gideon, and longtime character actor Eddie Jones (The Believers) does a fine job as loveable Uncle Charlie.

The New Kids is a suspenseful thriller that steadily builds to an over-the-top finale filled with stunts and gunfire. Cunningham created a growing sense of dread as we watch Eddie and his gang spiral out of control. While odds are good that Loren and Abby are relatively safe from harm, they are surrounded by some decent people that audiences will pull for. Strong performances and solid writing and directing make for a highly enjoyable picture. The film carries something of a mean streak keeping an element of danger in that you never know how far the villains will go. If you missed this one on video or frequent late-night cable screenings, this modestly priced Blu-ray release is your chance to correct that oversight.

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Video and Audio:

I cannot find any mention of a new transfer for this release, but picture quality is strong. Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, colors are vibrant and black levels are solid and flesh tones appear natural throughout.

A DTS-HD MA 2.0 preserves the original stereo mix and is rather lively. Dialogue is clean and free from hiss or other distortion. Music and effects tracks are well-balanced and never intrusive.

Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.

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Special Features:

There are no special features on this disc.

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Movie: Threeandahalfstars Cover
Buy Amazon Us
Video: Fourstars
Audio: Threeandahalfstars
Features: Zerostars
Overall: 3.5 Star Rating

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About The Author
Robert Gold
Author: Robert Gold
Staff Reviewer - USA
Robert's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
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