Sweet Sixteen (1983)
Directed by: Jim Sotos
Written by: Erwin Goldman
Starring: Bo Hopkins, Susan Strasberg, Patrick Macnee, Don Stroud, Sharon Farrell, Dana Kimmell, Aleisha Shirley, Larry Storch,
Michael Pataki, Steve Antin
"I'd say we've got a real bona fide nut running around!"
Well, hello SWEET SIXTEEN. Pleased to meet you. Were have you been all my life? Due to the magic of DVD it's possible to revisit old favorites or discover ones we never got to see the first time around. A few years ago reading reviews of SWEET SIXTEEN online, it was just one of those fondly remembered little indie slasher films from the 1980's, that you'd never expect to see again except for maybe an old VHS copy. But here it is on DVD. And special edition DVD with two versions of the film and a handful of special features to boot. So how does it hold up?
Melissa (Shirley) is the new girl in town. Her father (Patrick Macnee!) an archaeologist has relocated his family to a small Texas town, so he can excavate an Indian burial ground. While Melissa is a hit with all the local boys, thing is that all her perspective suiters end up on the business end of some very sharp knives. Most of the town and Melissa’s father suspect Native American, Jason Longshadow (Don Shanks, HALLOWEEN 4) is the killer, Sheriff Dan Burke (Hopkins) and his Nancy Drew like daughter (Dana Kimmell, FRIDAY THE 13th PART III), suspect otherwise. Melissa's mother Joanne (Strasberg), who was born and raised in town before moving away, decides to throw a party to celebrate Melissa’s sweet sixteen and take the town's people's minds off the murders. Sheriff Burke's son (Antin), Melissa’s next beau and maybe the next victim of the killer unless the sheriff can solve the murders and unmask the killer.
Man what an awesome cheese-fest. I loved every...every minute of this sucker. Between Dana Kimmell's ridiculous reaction to finding the first body to Melissa’s "awesome" theme:
"Melissa.... what are you thinking sweet Melissa?....
Are you still with us.... Melissa?....
You look so far away .... Melissa ...
What’s that you're saying? .... Melissa....."
Both of these moments will stay with you for a long, long time afterwards. No amount of booze or therapy will let you forget. Nor will you forget lines like this. "What if the killer is watching us? We could be coleslaw... just like that!" Delivered by Dana Kimmell’s would-be sleuth Marci. I only wish more was done with her character. Trouble is between her brother, Their father the sheriff and Melissa, there's way to many characters and not enough time spent with anyone of them for very long. Speaking of Melissa, you have to love the early '80's slasher films. You'd never see one of the lead actress as nude as Aleisha Shirley in a few scenes. And if she's not nude she's cavorting about in her undies. Besides being very striking, her Melissa is a fairly interesting character. A troubled free spirit, who is the new and mysterious girl in town. Genre vets Hopkins, Strasberg, Macnee, Stroud, and Shanks all give solid performances and lend a bit of credibility to the proceedings. My only other gripe is the attack scenes are filmed without a lot of energy and a bit to dark at times.
Speaking of dark. I guess I can't be to harsh on that aspect because Code Red had to assemble the film from various elements, not all of them in the best shape. Both cuts of the film are about the same as far a quality goes, except for one thing. The theatrical cut is rather poorly framed. But that said it didn't hamper my enjoyment. I've sat through films in worse shape. The big difference between the two cuts is right at the beginning. The opening credits of the theatrical cut features Marci’s love of murder mysteries, where as the director's cut opens with Melissa taking a steamy shower. I actually enjoyed the Marci opening more. I liked the stormy night theatrics to it. There's a fun commentary track included that features Scott Spiegel moderating, with Aleisha Shirley joined by director Jim Sotos, as well a a twenty minute interview with Jim and Aleisa discussing the film, this time joined by Bo Hopkins. Also included are the films trailer and Code Red trailers for NIGHTMARE, STUNT ROCK, RITUALS and BALALAIKA CONSPIRACY.
Heck I enjoyed SWEET SIXTEEN so much I watched it three times. Both cuts of the film and then the film with commentary. I can honestly say I was never bored and never felt like taking a nap during the film. Unlike a lot of movies I watch. If your in the market for vintage '80's cheese, you may enjoy a little SWEET SIXTEEN party.