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Friday, June 4, 2021

Sweet Sixteen (1983)

This is the first movie in this summer’s marathon that I hadn’t seen before. It is getting increasingly rare for me to find a slasher that I’ve not seen yet, so I was excited to check this one out. It has an amazing cast including Bo Hopkins, Patrick Macnee, Don Stroud, Michael Pataki, and Larry Storch. That is a whole lot of acting experience right there. The fact that I hadn’t heard much about this one sort of scares me. Well might as well dive in. 

Melissa moves into town with her father, an anthropologist doing research nearby, and soon runs afoul of someone. She is a rather “friendly” girl and being as pretty as she is there is a lot of attention coming her way. The boys that pursue her end up dead, so something is wrong with that. We are given several suspects, including her overprotective father, but nothing is set in stone until the very end of the movie. Along the way we also get to see some racist locals going after the “damn Indians” whom they blame for the killings. This leads to some non-slasher drama that I wasn’t expecting.  

In theory Sweet Sixteen is a slasher flick. You have the mysterious killer knocking off victims while the sheriff tries to figure out who the killer is. There is also a cool supernatural vibe where the killings appear to be done with some sort of ancient ceremonial knives, thus tying both the Indians working on the dig as well as the Melissa’s father to the crimes. Having some suspects and keeping the audience guessing is a key for one off slashers where we don’t’ have an established character. There is the requisite nudity, which is expected in a slasher flick. But what is weird is how many of the characters are much older adults. Normally in a movie like this the adults are at best supporting characters and at worst something to be sent off on vacation or a business trip so that the teens can get up to hijinks and the killer can get to murdering them! 

I did find the story to be very slow at times. There are long stretches where nothing much happens on screen. The kills are spaced unevenly with three of the meager six we get happening in the last fifteen minutes. The special effects work is lame and the kills mediocre. The first is okay enough as a drunk kid gets stabbed, but after that most of it is offscreen. What we do see are quick glimpses. I was left wanting more. To top things off when they finally resolve the plot it doesn’t make a lot of sense. We do get a few lines of dialogue trying to sum up what happened, but it feels forced and didn’t work for me. 

I know in the past that I’ve mentioned some movies that were repackaged and presented as a slasher flick when they were really a thriller or just a murder mystery. This movie feels like one of those, but I think it was actually shot to cash in on them. Either someone didn’t get the memo, or they just did a bad job on the script. One more thing I wanted to mention is that the movie is very dark, but to be fair that might be the VHS copy that I watched but I wanted to mention that in case there was a better copy out there you would know to look for it if you were so inclined. I’m not going to recommend spending your time watching Sweet Sixteen, but if you must try to find a copy where you can at least see the action. Really though I’d recommend passing on this one. 


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