review for The New Kids on AllMovie

The New Kids (1985)
by Brian J. Dillard review

This amalgam of the teen flick and the revenge melodrama offers more than just hackneyed characterizations, awful soft rock tunes, and low production values; it offers the unusual and cathartic chance to watch sympathetic protagonists creatively kill one person after another. The 1980s horror genre, thanks in no small part to New Kids director Sean S. Cunningham's Friday the 13th, gave rise to splatterfests in which the audience ironically rooted for the villain, who would, after all, return for the sequels even though the supporting characters wouldn't. In The New Kids, Cunningham goes one better, providing a pair of fresh-scrubbed, all-American leads with the motive (persecution by rednecks) and the setting (a low-rent amusement park) in which to kill gruesomely, in self-defense. Shannon Presby and future TV star Lori Loughlin, as the army brats who turn their father's training loose on the despicable Floridians who have abused them, provide an appropriate mixture of shiny white teeth and martial arts prowess, while future yuppie icon James Spader and John Philbin (Children of the Corn and Return of the Living Dead vet) prove both handsome and loathsome as the leaders of the coke-snorting teen despots who experience retribution amongst the roller-coasters. Although most of the extreme violence is implied rather than explicit, Cunningham films his little exercise in vigilante justice like any other slasher flick -- lingering setups and lightning-fast payoffs. Full of vaguely Yankee-centric distaste for the South and its allegedly chaw-spitting, date-raping, dog-fighting denizens, The New Kids is nevertheless hard to take seriously as anything except an adolescent power fantasy with a particularly high body count.