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  Boys Next Door, The Give The Boys A HolidayBuy this film here.
Year: 1985
Director: Penelope Spheeris
Stars: Maxwell Caulfield, Charlie Sheen, Patti D'Arbanville, Christopher McDonald, Hank Garrett, Paul C. Dancer, Richard Pachorek, Lesa Lee, Kenneth Cortland, Moon Unit Zappa, Dawn Schneider, Kurt Christian, Don Draper, Blackie Dammett, Phil Rubenstein
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: It's the last day of school for best buddies Roy (Maxwell Caulfield) and Bo (Charlie Sheen), and they don't see anything more in their futures than working at the steel mill until their retirement a few decades hence. They are glad to be out of school though, despite the fact that they're the kind of idiotic misfits who nobody, least of all their peers, want around. But Bo overhears a conversation about a party to be held that night for the end of their high school education, and they duo duly head over there to gatecrash. But do you know what they really need? How about a holiday?

The Boys Next Door stakes out its claim as a dissection of the serial killer's mind with its opening title sequence which serves as a two-minute breakdown of the psychology of the psychopath, making it plain that your average, dangerous sociopath could be someone living next door to you. Because of that, we are now well aware that this is no teen comedy from the golden age of such things, although that's how it starts off, but an examination of what drives some people to kill. And the answer they come up with goes no deeper than "They just do."

Scripted by future X Files and Final Destination producer-director-writers Glen Morgan and James Wong, the film has a matter of fact quality that serves it well: a more sensational handling by director Penelope Spheeris might have sabotaged what is actually quite thoughtful in between its bouts of violence. Our protagonists, keenly portrayed with just the right amount of guilelessness by Caulfield and Sheen, resemble Beavis and Butthead gone bad, snickering at their own jokes, feeling no compassion and resigned to a dead end life. It's this state of mind that leads them to their vacation, a six hour drive to Los Angeles and fun in Hollywood and at the beach.

Or that's the plan after they get thrown out of the party, but it goes horribly wrong all too quickly. Roy is the leader in this collaboration, but they both have their part to play in what becomes a surprisingly believable murder spree. It begins when they stop to refuel and Bo hands over two dollars thinking it's six, leaving them short of gas. They both fly into a rage and attack the attendant, landing him in hospital; the police are soon on the scene, and detectives Christopher McDonald and Hank Garrett realise that this will not be the end of the story.

Not unless they can catch the terrible twosome at any rate, and for most of the film they follow in Roy and Bo's wake, picking up the pieces as they go. There is an unspoken homosexual bond between they two boys that they are not intelligent enough to recognise, but when anyone, male or female, makes a move on Bo, Roy gets incredibly jealous and often this is the reason the attacks happen. They travel the night streets of the city, visiting what they don't cotton on to is a gay bar, follow a wholesome young couple they feel aggrieved about, or get picked up by a fortune teller (Patti D'Arbanville) whose attraction to Bo sparks her undoing. All along, it's those who belong to something, whether it be a scene or a healthy relationship, that contrasts with these two outsiders, but as to the core of why they kill, the film leaves that for you to decide. Only George S. Clinton's squealing rawk guitar soundtrack seems a serious misstep; The Boys Next Door is better than you might expect.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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