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Blu-ray Review: The Boys Next Door (1985)

Psychopath-in-training Roy (Maxwell Caulfield) and his naive buddy Bo (Charlie Sheen) are recently graduated high school outcasts (they were the white trash in an institution populated by the rich). Not really keen on becoming factory workers just yet, the boys take an impromptu vacay down L.A. way.

So what do two young boys do for fun? Why cause grave bodily harm to a gas station attendant, old lady, and some bodacious babes in barely there bikinis of course, as one does. But all of that is just the precursor to a night of extreme violence and dark, dark times. Hilarity does not fuckin’ ensue.

Holy hell, how have I never slapped my putrid peepers on this flick before?!! Full of nihilism, violence, and explosive teenage rage The Boys Next Door is a downright mother fuckin’ masterpiece!

Why does it work so well? Let me tell ya… seriously, I kinda have to, it’s my job here… anyway, let me tell ya, there are a multitude of reasons. First of all, the acting of Maxwell Caulfield is off the charts. This dude is so believable as Roy; the directionless youth that just up and goes psycho, that the character seems terrifyingly real. A swirling mass of apathy, violence, repressed homosexuality, and complete unpredictability, Roy nevertheless remains compelling to watch, no matter how inhuman he becomes. And pre-batshit (or at least before it was public business) Charlie Sheen plays Roy’s sidekick Bo with great sensitivity and skill, so much so that no matter what he goes along with on that dread night of destruction, you can’t help but like the guy.

Secondly, the script by Glen Morgan and James Wong presents the fact that the next serial killer could be absolutely anyone in the most shattering way possible… by making the evil just a kid… hell, it could even be your kid if you don’t pay attention to them enough. Though striking enough for the time it was released, it resonates even more in our modern age of mass school shootings and other seemingly random acts of violence dominating the news.

Finally, the direction of Penelope Spheeris is full of brilliant choices; everything from color choices, to shot framing, to the fact that she chooses to show us the underbelly of L.A. instead of it’s glamorous side. This adherence to the counter-culture, full of gay bars, neon-lit arcades, drag queens, metal music, and plenty of booze, provides the film with a sense of both danger, as well as a location where the boys various crimes could actually go unnoticed.

I’d say buy this for the feature alone, but ol’ Severin have sweetened the deal by including a solid selection of extras on this Blu-ray release. First up is an archival audio commentary featuring Spheeris and Caulfield that explores the film’s creation and production, and minus a few spots of dead air presents an engagin’ earful for the ol’ viewer.

Following that we get interviews with author Stephen Thrower (discussing the film’s themes), Caulfield and actor Christopher McDonald (who both also co-starred in Grease 2, which is a great film so go fuck yourselves), street band performers Texacala Jones and Tequila Mockingbird (which is a genius name), Caulfield and Spheeris (discussing the film’s production), and actor Kenneth Cortland (who played Dwayne in the film).

Finally comes The Psychotronic Tourist looking at the film’s locations as they appear now, an alternate opening sequence, some extended scenes, and the film’s trailer.

Dark, brilliant, and infinitely watchable despite the subject matter (or because of it), The Boys Next Door is a must-own flick and belongs in your collection immediately!

 

 

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