Sweet Sixteen

11/23/2018 07:16

Film: Sweet Sixteen

Year: 1983

Director: Jim Sotos

Writer: Erwin Goldman

Starring: Bo Hopkins, Susan Strasberg and Patrick Macnee



This was a film that I really knew nothing about when I came in to see it. It was part of a double feature that Bloody Disgusting was doing as part of their Retro Nightmares. The only thing I knew was that this was a slasher film. The official synopsis for this film is teenager Melissa (Aleisa Shirley) moves into a small town filled with racial prejudice and bullying and each time she meets up with one of the boys in town, they end up murdered, but who is the killer?

We kick off with an odd scene with Marci Burke (Dana Kimmell). She is reading a murder mystery novel and there is a knock at the door. She answers it to a crazy looking man and she screams. It turns out to be a nightmare. I will admit, I’m not really sure what the purpose of this scene was aside from getting the audience an early scare. The problem though was that it wasn’t that scary.

It then shifts to a bar. A man enters and he is already acting belligerent. His name is Billy Franklin (Don Stroud). He meets up with his buddy Jimmy (Logan Clarke). They turn their attention to an old Native American who sits at the bar, Greyfeather (Henry Wilcoxon). They start to mess with him, but that comes to an end when Jason Longshadow (Don Shanks). They get into it and it ends up with Jason pulling out a knife while Billy breaks a bottle. The two Native Americans leave. It is also at this point that Billy’s younger brother Johnny (Glenn Withrow) tells him he’s going to leave for a bit, but will be back later.

Jason runs into a young woman outside, Melissa. She comes on to him and he tells her to go home. She turns her attention to Johnny. The two of them head to a place on the nearby reservation. Johnny is hoping to get lucky, but Melissa gets spooked. He takes her home where he ends up meeting her dad, Dr. John Morgan (Patrick Macnee). He threatens the boy and he takes off. His truck runs out of gas and he is then brutally murdered by someone.

Marci’s dad is the local sheriff, Dan (Bo Hopkins). He has breakfast with her and her brother Hank (Steven Antin). Word of the missing boy gets to him and they see if they can find him. This starts a string of deaths in the area. This also sparks up the hatred of the Native Americans in the area, with Jason being the prime suspect.

I do have to say that I really liked the story of this film. It had me guessing all the way up until right before the climax. This film does a great job at using red herrings and making you try to find out who the killer is. It is interesting that they are mostly following Melissa. It makes it more interesting that she is a bit wild and flirty. I think a lot of this is that her family moves around a lot, so she doesn’t waste a lot of time. She also makes some questionable decisions.

Something else that I wanted to touch on was the racism in this film. It is interesting that this is something we are still deal with today, 35 years after this film came out. This is taking place in Texas and toward Native Americans, but we still see this all over our country and even the world. It is toward minorities. It is sad and I like that Dan is trying to defuse it before it gets crazy. Billy and Jimmy are quite despicable human beings for sure.

I do want to point out I thought it was odd that Hank and Johnny are hanging out in a bar as high school students. A boy later wants to meet with Melissa behind the place and she’s going there in the beginning. I found that a little odd.

As for the pacing of this film, I didn’t have any problems with it. I really thought it was well done and it builds tension from the beginning. That opening scene could have been cut-out or something else could have been there as it really doesn’t add a lot. The mystery of this film builds and we get deaths mixed in to keep it interesting. I thought the ending was pretty fitting for what we got throughout as well.

Acting in this film was pretty solid as well. Hopkins was really good as the sheriff. He gives off a hard, but fair type attitude. His children seem to really like him and he is just a good guy. I liked him as the hero in this film. Susan Strasberg appears as Joanne Morgan. She doesn’t get a lot of screen time, but I thought she was good. Macnee was solid. Stroud was a horrible human being, but I thought his portrayal of this was good and needed. Same goes for Clarke. Kimmell was super cute and I thought she was interesting that was into true crime. She really wants to help her father, who does humor her a bit. Shirley was gorgeous and we do get see her completely nude a couple of times. I thought the rest of the cast were fine for what was needed.

The effects in this film were good. They were done practically, which if you know me then you know I’m a big fan of that. This film strategically cuts away so it isn’t all that graphic. I thought the blood looked good. There are talks about Native American knives which are found a nearby dig site. I’m not sure if they are used in any of the murders, but that would have been a good twist. We do see one at the very end. I also thought that the film was shot pretty also.

Now with that said, I thought this was a fun film. As I led off, I came in pretty blind about this one and was pleasantly surprised by it. I like the mystery of this young woman turning 16 soon and going on dates, only to have each boy murdered. It makes sense with her character why she goes on dates even after the first one happened. There is interesting undertones of racism that is still relevant today. The pacing for the film was good as was the acting. The effects aren’t the best I’ve seen, but they were used well and strategically. The score of the film didn’t stand out or take me out of the scenes so I didn’t have any issues there. Overall I’d say this is an above average film with a pretty good mystery to it.


My Rating: 7 out of 10