Another movie that my friend Mark bought for me. When he gave me this movie, he asked if I had seen it before and I told him yes but it had been a while. This is absolutely true because this is one of those movies that would pop up on late night television and I had seen it several times back in my teenage years and haven’t seen it since. I remember this movie being really good but sometimes movies don’t always hold up over time so let’s see if this one bucks the trend as I watch today’s movie, The New Kids.
The plot: Colonel Mac McWilliams wakes up his son Loren and daughter Abby for a morning jog and training exercises, primarily self defence, on the base that they live on. Returning to the house, Mac and his wife Mary Beth pack up and leave for a trip to Washington DC, where Mac is being awarded a Presidential Commendation for Bravery. That night, Loren and Abby have some friends over and see a news report about the Mac being given the award when Loren gets a call saying that their parents were killed in a car crash. After the funeral ceremony, their uncle Charlie approaches Loren and Abby and tells them that he had made arrangements for them to come live with him and their aunt Fay in Florida. Loren and Abby take them to his home; an gas station/amusement park called Santa’s Funland. They briefly greet their aunt Fay before she has to go deal with some customers at the fuel pumps and Charlie begins showing them around. Charlie takes them to the building where they will be staying and they thank him then, after he leaves, discuss what they can do to make their situation work. Loren and Abby enroll in the local school and Abby meets Mark, a kid from her Algebra class that tries to help her when the teacher calls on her to answer a question. After talking to Mark some after class, Abby heads to her next class but is harassed by a couple of boys until she elbows one of them in the stomach. As the group of boys look on, Abby runs into Loren and they briefly check on each other before Abby continues to class and Loren gets in line for the water fountain. the 4 boys (Gideon, Gordo, Moonie, and JoeBob, surround Loren as Gideon cuts in front of him and uses the fountain, then taunts Loren before they walk off. Later, Gideon and the others are competing in shooting mason jars with a pistol while their leader, Dutra, is checking on the dog they are entering in a dog fight. When Gideon comments about wanting to have sex with Abby, Dutra also says he would like to sleep with her and makes a wager with Gideon on who could pull it off first, while JoeBob bets that neither of them will manage to do it. Back at the amusement park, Loren is helping Charlie with some of the repairs, while Charlie complains about the financial problems they are having. Abby manages the ticket booth, then goes to pump gas when Dutra pulls up. As she is pumping gas, Dutra asks her to a dance that weekend but Abby refuses and Dutra gets and upset and threatens her. The next day at school, Abby is using a microfiche viewer at the library when Gideon approaches her and asks her to go to a drive-in with him but she refuses, which makes him mad and he proceeds to spit on the screen. When Gideon leaves, Mark approaches and offers to help her, warning her about Gideon and the rest of Dutra’s gang. At lunch, Abby and Mark are sitting at a table when Loren approaches and Abby introduces Loren to Mark before pointing out a girl to Loren, saying she is interested in him. Loren looks at the girl, who smiles at him and Abby pressures him to make a move when Dutra suddenly approaches their table and asks Abby out. When Abby refuses again, Dutra gets angry and Loren stands up to him, causing Dutra to back off and leave. When Loren sits back down, Abby tells him about Dutra asking her out the day before and not wanting to take “no” for an answer. That night, Loren and Abby are talking and Abby is upset because Loren gave Charlie some of their money to help him. out. As they continue to argue, Dutra and his gang proceed to vandalize the barn they sleep in, and tear up the merry-go-round before crashing into the fence and driving off. The next day, Loren and Abby are working on making repairs when the sheriff drives up with his daughter Karen, who happens to be the girl interested in Loren. While the sheriff and Charlie talk, Karen goes to help Loren some and asks him to do something after school sometime before her dad yells out at her that they are leaving. Some time later, Charlie lets Loren and Abby drive his cadillac into town to pick up some more paint but while they are in the paint store, Abby sees Dutra and his gang messing around with the car. Alerting Loren to what is happening, the siblings head over to the car to find that the passenger side is all scratched up. Dutra and his gang taunt the McWilliams, saying that some other kids did it when a deputy shows up and Dutra and his group continue saying it wasn’t them. When they leave, Abby asks if they can get away with that but when the deputy says they could file a report, Loren says no, then heads back to get the paint. That night, Loren sneaks into Dutra’s house and wakes up Dutra by holding a knife to his throat, then gags him and ties his hands behind his back. Loren then leads Dutra around his room and finds his stash of drugs in his closet and asks where the money is and though he doesn’t tell him at first, Dutra motions to the desk and Loren grabs it the stash of money, then takes enough money to cover the cost of repairing Charlie’s car, then tells Dutra that the trouble between him and his family ends now. The next day, Dutra heads over to JoeBob’s as the other gang members are training their pitbull and says he wants to head over to Funland again. JoeBob thinks that they should call it quits but Dutra threatens to kick him out of the gang and JoeBob relents. Suddenly, the sheriff shows up, informing Dutra that he has a busted tail light, and questions them about the events happening to Funland and lets them know he believes they are responsible but can’t do anything yet without proof. That night, Abby goes to take a shower but Dutra sneaks in and throws the body of Molly, her pet rabbit, into the shower with her. The next day, Loren attacks Gideon and the two start fighting but Loren easily wins the fight, then asks if anyone else wants to mess with his family, warning Dutra that this ends now. The rest of the students applaud Loren and later, during gym class, Karen, who is now dating Loren, tells Abby that Loren is becoming more popular since nobody had ever stood up to Dutra or his goons before. When Loren joins them after running some more laps around the track, Karen offers to give them a ride home and Loren goes off to grab a shower first but he is attacked in the locker room by Dutra and his gang. Abby is upset about what is happening and tells Loren she considered calling Colonel Jenkins, a friend of their fathers, and moving away from Florida but thinks about what her father would have said and decided to stay and tough it out. Time passes, with Loren continuing to see Karen and Abby dating Mark and they continue helping out with repairs at the park. On a Saturday night, Karen shows up to pick up everybody just as they get the generator working, allowing the park to be open at nights and generate more revenue. The two couples head to the dance and after a little while, Loren and Karen sneak off for some alone time. Dutra and his gang show up and when they see Loren leave, Gideon and the others harass Abby but she manages to get away and continues dancing with Mark. When Abby goes to use the restroom, she finds Dutra, Moonie, and Gordo standing down the hall from her and she quickly walks the other way but ends up being grabbed by Gideon and JoeBob. When she is gone too long, Mark goes to get Loren and Karen and when they can’t find her in the school, they head out to try and find her. Dutra and his gang take Abby out to a field and Dutra starts spraying lighter fluid on her clothes, then lights part of her pants on fire but Abby quickly puts it out. When Dutra kisses her, Abby bites his tongue so he sprays her face with lighter fluid, then goes off to the side to do some cocaine with Moonie while Gideon attempts to burn her. When Gordo pulls his pants down to try and rape Abby, Abby kicks him in the crotch, then kicks Gideon and grabs a rock to hit JoeBob and quickly runs away. Dutra grabs a shotgun from his van before yelling at the others to get in and they go chasing after her. Abby makes her way through the woods to Funland but finds Dutra’s van parked in front of it and when she turns around, Dutra is there and quickly slaps her before taking her around back. Back at the school, Loren asks Karen for her keys, then tells her to call her father while he goes driving off to find Dutra and Abby. At Funland, Dutra and his gang have killed Charlie’s prize calf and collected the blood in a bowl. Dutra dips his hand in the bowl and begins smearing it all over Charlie, who is being held by Moonie and Gordo, while threatening to their pitbull, which JoeBob is holding, loose on him. Abby, who is being restrained by Gideon, begs him to stop and Dutra approaches her and begins taking off her pants, then stroking her underwear. Charlie becomes enraged and breaks free from Moonie and Gordo, causing Gordo to be doused in the bowl of blood. As Charlie attacks Dutra, the pitbull gets free from JoeBob and attacks and kills Gordo. Dutra manages to get away from Charlie and shoot him with his shotgun, then shoots the pitbull but they realize that Abby escaped during the commotion. Dutra has the rest of his gang grab a shotgun and go looking for Abby, sending Moonie up to the top of the ferris wheel to keep a lookout for her. Loren arrives at the park and, seeing Dutra and his men searching the place, quietly slips inside and starts hunting them. JoeBob hears something and checks out the maze of mirrors and shoots at Abby, only to shoot out one of the mirrors. Abby, who was actually behind him, runs out and shoves him through another mirror, then runs out of the maze only to be shot at by Dutra and Gideon. Loren yells out to get their attention and Dutra, Gideon, and Moonie begin shooting at him, allowing Abby to escape. Loren manages to get out of sight and they split back up to look for him, not noticing that he is climbing up the ferris wheel towards Moonie. Loren quietly places a bar up beneath Moonie’s seat and locks it in place, preventing the chair from rotating as the ride moves. He then heads back down and uses a hose to douse the floor and roof of the bumper car track. Dutra turns on the generator so they can better see Loren and Abby but it activates the ferris wheel and Moonie ends up falling to his death when his seat stays locked in place. JoeBob sees Abby and trys to shoot her but Loren manages to warn her in time. As JoeBob tries to shoot Loren, Loren activates the bumper cars and JoeBob ends up being electrocuted. Loren then attacks Gideon and the two begin fighting by the roller coaster. Dutra is on the roof of the barn and tries to shoot Loren but Abby hits him with a board and knocks him off the barn. Gideon manages to get the upper hand and places Loren’s head on the track, intending to have the roller coaster run over him but when Gideon looks away, Loren hits him and knocks him onto the track, where the train ends up decapitating Gideon. Abby stops the train and moves to go towards Loren but Dutra shoots at her. Running out of shells, Dutra chases after Abby and hits her in the back with the shotgun, knocking her down. Dutra then grabs one of the nozzles from the fuel pump and ignites it, turning it into a makeshift flame thrower. As Dutra approaches Abby, Loren attacks him and the two struggle for control over the nozzle until Loren manages to get it and point it at Dutra’s face, setting Dutra on fire and killing him. Some time later, the park has reopened, with Charlie, who survived the shotgun blast, giving tours of where all five deaths occurred during the “Bloodbath at Funland”. Attendance has been steady at the park and Charlie and Fay tell Abby and Loren that Colonel Jenkins had heard about what happened and called to ask the kids move in with him but Abby and Loren say that this is their home and they are staying. When Karen shows up but says her car is making a strange noise, Charlie lets them take the cadillac and the three kids drive off while Charlie begins to give a guided tour of where everyone died during the attack, not noticing JoeBob’s little brother staring at them all with an evil glare.
This is still a really good drama/thriller and probably a bit underrated by the critics. The acting was great, with Shannon Presby and Lori Loughlin doing good jobs as Loren and Abby respectively, while James Spader was fantastic as the sadistic Dutra. The story was pretty good, though it was a bit stereotypical in the whole new kids moving to a more rural area and trying to fit in. Director Sean S. Cunningham, did a great job in steadily building up the terror and suspense until the climax of the movie. There wasn’t much in the way of special effects but for the most part they were ok, except for when Dutra’s face was set on fire as you could tell it was a fake. That fault aside, this is a great movie and definitely one worth watching.
Rating: 4 out of 5