Sweet Sixteen

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Teenager Melissa moves into a small town filled with racial prejudice and bullying, and each time she meets up, they end up murdered – but who is the killer?

ACTORS :  Bo Hopkins, Susan Strasberg, Patrick Macnee

YEAR OF RELEASE :1983

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Sweet Sixteen  A beautiful lonely girl named Melissa tries to make new friends from a town she’s currently living in. The only problem is, each of the boys that she spends time with end up brutally murdered. Her sixteenth birthday is on the way, but Melissa turns out to be a suspect when it seems she’s the last person who has seen her boyfriends alive.

User Reviews

Whodunit slasher in a Southwestern town with a likable cast
Sweet Sixteen  RELEASED IN 1983 and directed by Jim Sotos, “Sweet 16” chronicles events in a West Texas town when a new family moves into town and there are a series of murders revolving around the 16 year-old daughter (Aleisa Shirley). The sheriff (Bo Hopkins) and deputy (Michael Cutt) try to track down the killer. Dana Kimmell and Steve Antin play the Sheriff’s kids while Patrick Macnee and Susan Strasberg play the parents of the new girl.

While this is a slasher, it’s not overly gory and could be categorized as a whodunit mystery. The story kicks off with a quality bar confrontation, which reveals the racial tension in the town between whites and Natives. Despite all the gushing over the new girl (Aleisa Shirley), she’s not all that, i.e. no curves. Dana Kimmell is the real beauty here.

The cast is likable, particularly Hopkins as the main protagonist, and the early 80’s ambiance is to die for. Don Shanks is notable as a kick axx Native. I liked the movie and enjoyed trying to figure out who the killer was amidst the red herrings, but found the wrap up a little eye-rolling and unsatisfying.

Underrated 80’s slasher flick

Sweet Sixteen  This was not generally a well-regarded slasher movie back in the 80’s since it did not contain a lot of graphic violence or gruesome Tom Savini-type special effects. It is more of a murder mystery. And though the identity of the murderer is pretty obvious, it is nevertheless pretty effective. It has a great small-town setting (whereas most other slashers were set in suburbia) and an effective atmosphere. Parts of it are quite masterful like a scene near the end (prominently featured in all the promotional artwork) where the central girl and a male admirer go skinny-dipping at night in a lake lit only by a single cross-shaped key light. (It’s unfortunate that most slasher movie fans are such gore-hounds that they don’t appreciate the more subtle elements of horror movies like cinematography, setting, and atmosphere). The story is also a pretty different in that all the victims in this movie are young MALES rather than promiscuous young females. And they all meet a sticky end because they’re sniffing around the new girl in town, played by Aleisha Shirley (but then it’s kind of hard to blame them).

Sweet Sixteen  The adults in town are played by such stalwart character actors as Bo Hopkins (as the town sheriff) and Susan Strasberg (as the mother of the new girl). Dana Kimmel from “Friday the 13th Part III” plays the sheriff’s daughter who befriends the new girl and eventually solves the mystery. For a long time Kimmel, a devout Mormon, was blamed for “Friday the 13th Part III” being so tame compared to the rest of the series (as if they couldn’t have just replaced her with another actress). Fortunately, this ridiculous rumor has been discredited by several recent books on the “Friday the 13th” movies. Mormon or not, she’s definitely good in these virginal “final girl” roles. Aleisha Shirley was not as good of an actress as Kimmel, but she was certainly effective in teen femme fatale roles (she also appeared in the pilot episode of the HBO series “The Hitchhiker” as a teenager who seduces her mother’s boyfriend). She actually looks a lot more like “sweet 20-something” than “sweet 16” in this movie, but her frequent nude scenes allow the movie to make up in skin what it lacks in gore.

I’m kind of surprised they haven’t re-made this, although I read about a movie in Gorezone magazine called “All the Boys Love Mandy Lane” that seems to have a very similar plot (for some reason though it hasn’t been released in the US yet, despite the presence of a currently hot actress, Amanda Heard, in the lead role). Oh well, the “original” is available on DVD now, so check it out if you get a chance

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