Sweet Sixteen (1981) from Tuna

Sweet Sixteen (1981) is treated as a teen slasher film at IMDB. To me, it is really more of a thriller. The victims are mostly teens, but there is very little of the stabbing shown, very little graphic gore, and the kids in the small Texas town are not trapped, or terrorized. About the only element it shares with the slasher genre is a designated naked girl, in this case, Aleisa Shirley. This was her first film, and she was honestly not bad in it.


see the main commentary

DVD info from Laser's Edge

This is part of the same 4 DVD set that contains The Harrad Experiment, Seniors, and some totally un-watchable thing called Getting Wasted. I must say the set is worth the money, which works out to less than $2.00/film.

A corpse is discovered, and Melissa (Shirley), the new girl in town, was the last one to see the stabbing victim. As more corpses turn up, all stabbed in the same way, circumstances point to her, but also to a local Indian. Some of the bigots in the town decide to take the law into their own hands, and now the town has to deal with a serial killer and a lynching.

Look for Susan Strasberg as Shirley's mother, and Dana Kimmell, of Friday the 13th Part 3 fame, as the sheriff's precocious daughter.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: three stars. Ebert 4/4, Berardinelli 3/4,

  • The film won several fantasy festival awards, and was nominated for two Goyas.

The People Vote ...

  • with their dollars: made for a modest $12 million dollars, it grossed $39 million in the USA (1600 screens), $33 million elsewhere.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, as a thriller, the film would rate higher with a good transfer, but this version is a D. The transfer quality makes it hard to rate this film because it is dark and noisy, which makes it painful to watch. It does have some great characters, and the plot surprises are not transparent.

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