by David Christopher Bell
Who doesn’t love watching teenagers fight? These days it’s just nice to see them doing something that gets them outside and moving around – not to mention the wonders it does for team building skills and self esteem issues.
Compared to them sitting in a moist den somewhere playing Skyrim and housing six servings of Zesty Salsa Combos, youth violence isn’t the worst fate for our nation’s children.
Anyhoo – Here are some of the better films that celebrate the time-honored tradition of kids punching each other to pass the time.
14. The Goonies
A fitting start. This film actually contains very little actual harm to children, but rather a whole lot of near-harm. Had the children been slightly dumber or slower they would have been taken out in a heartbeat with all the booby traps and mobsters running around down there, not to mention the potential structural decay-related injuries or health problems caused by mold and bacteria. Really – they just got lucky.
It’s fun to imagine what the Goonies would be like grown up today. If they kept up their adventure lifestyle then most likely they are a pile of skeletons at the bottom of some ravine somewhere – buried by time until some other group of reckless children stumble upon their remains.
13. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Can you imagine being a teenager recruited by The Foot? It’s word of mouth so you probably show up there with a buddy and see all those awesome video games and that cigarette dealing guy and the skateboarding ramps and think that you’ve discovered the Great Valley for hooligans. It can’t get much better. But then you’re all are forced into this weird stadium to watch a dude dressed like a blender who tells you that he’s your father and you can’t help but to realize that you’ve most likely just joined a cult. Next thing you know he is talking about killing giant turtles and you are desperately searching for an exit – but still – free cigarettes and video games. Plus you get to dress up like a ninja and steal from people.
The final shock comes when you find out that these giant turtles actually do exist, unfortunately it’s when one of them freaking wails on you while skateboarding around a sewer. Compared to what’s out there though, it would still make a pretty decent summer job.
Every horror movie that involves teenagers getting dead could probably be on this list, but Scream seemed fitting because not only are the people getting stuck youngsters but the ones doing the sticking are as well. It’s a good teen-on-teen slasher with everything from mystery and masks to sex and booze. Not to mention that we get to watch Henry Winkler play a school principal and get stabbed, which has to be symbolic of something.
While this movie was probably one of the best satires of the slasher genre, it sure did spawn a whole shitty era of copycat films that completely missed the point. Hooks for hands and urban legend-themed killers and such, not to mention the sequels that became more and more self-aware and meta to the point that they completely forgot to be scary.
Matthew Vaughn is a weird guy. He opens his career with a British crime film that would rival Guy Ritchie’s work (if Vaughn had not actually produced Richie’s films) – then he moves on to a kid’s movie, followed by Kick-Ass. Now he’s doing the X-Men movies. It’s just weird.
The one consistent thing, however, is that everything he directs is really, really awesome – and when there is violence, it’s violent. He doesn’t mess around, which is why a movie about teenagers dressing up like superheroes and fighting gangsters is a perfect film for him. The result was spectacular fun. The show stealer of course was Hit-Girl’s total keenness to take a man’s life while verbally debasing him at the same time. Also – If we learned anything from The Wicker Man it’s that any movie where Nicolas Cage on fire is worth watching.
Don’t tease people. Seriously don’t. Best case scenario is that some day they will become your boss, worst case is this film. You know – legally Carrie didn’t do anything wrong; it was those damn rafters and electrical fire who really should be blamed. Carrie just stood there looking really, really pissed off – you can’t tie her to that.
What’s interesting about this film is that when you think about it, it’s pretty much what would have happened if the X-Men hadn’t picked up Jean Grey. Carrie is just an alternate reality Phoenix. Had she been born in a comic book universe she would be totally fine.
And of course they are remaking the film, this time with Hit-Girl in the title role. Why wouldn’t they be?
9. The Harry Potter Series
It started out so innocent with stinky-tasting jelly beans and jolly strangers taking kids away from their homes in the middle of the night and next thing you know dudes with mutated Satan-faces on the back of their heads are burning at the very touch of a child. It gets weird real fast, and then just keeps on going until children are being roasted alive and eaten by giant spiders.
The one sure thing we can all agree about the Harry Potter series is that it has single-handedly upgraded the nightmares of children worldwide. I can’t even imagine having to watch these films as a kid. They hit on all the soft spots of our psyche, very basic things like the three curses – possession, torture, and murder. Then on top of it all the base instinctual fears like spiders, snakes, Alan Rickman, and wolves. Not to mention the floating soul-sucking grim reapers. Jesus.
8. Children Of The Corn
The town of Gatlin is a lot like Neverland, only you just have to work at it a little more. Those first few weeks without adults must have been a pain, what with no one around to reach the top shelf or drive a car – but surely once they got a hang of things it was a regular club house, complete with a ‘no adults allowed’ policy painted on the front door. Adorable.
Here’s a fun fact about this movie – that little creepy preacher kid Isaac was played by John Franklin. Franklin is known for two other major roles – firstly as the voice of Walkabout Chucky in Child’s Play, and secondly as Cousin Itt in The Addams Family. Now he’s an English teacher. How awesome would it be to have Isaac, Chucky, and Cousin Itt as your English teacher?
Keep on readin’…
7. Red Dawn
It’s hard not to yell ‘Wolverines!’ whenever this movie comes up – the movie gets you so pumped, it’s like the Jock Jams of high school movies. You wanna know how awesome it is? It’s like if The Breakfast Club was injected with that shit Bane got pumped with – that’s how awesome.
Do yourself a favor and pick up the Collector’s Edition version of the DVD and switch on the ‘Carnage Counter.’ It’s this graphic that shows up before any action scene sectioned off to count up each casualty and explosion. It includes ‘Soviet Forces’, ‘Civilians’, ‘Wolverines’, ‘Grenades’, ‘RPGs’, ‘Explosions’, and my personal favorite: ‘deer.’ That last one only shows up once. It’s best to watch the film without the counter if you haven’t seen it though; it has a tendency to show up before the actual death, spoiling the action.
6. The Warriors
No doubt at this point you’ve come to realize that what I define as a ‘terrific film’ is a little opinionated. Not that this film isn’t terrible, it’s just that it’s one of those films that everybody knows but not many people tend to actually sit through – more often than not due to the effects of alcohol. One thing’s for sure – if you even need a cheap group costume for a Halloween party look no further. There’s a lot to choose from here – the obvious Baseball Furies for one. And for the ladies there’s always the Lizzies.
Hey – wanna learn something weird? Michael Beck, the guy who played Swan in the film – he went on to do some TV and film, but also audio book narrations. He did the unabridged version of Bill Clinton’s My Life even. How’s that for nice and weird?
5. Menace II Society
It seems really weird to have this film in a list that includes Harry Potter and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles because really up until this point, most of the films listed have trivialized the violence more than anything. It’s either action movie style or horror movie gore, but of course none of these films really recognize or respect the fact that real violence does happen. Honestly – that was on purpose because I didn’t want a list with movies like Kids and Alpha Dog and anything tragic. But I thought it might be best to include just one.
In the ten years since this film the Hughes Brothers have done five films. They really have to pick up the pace if you ask me. Everything they do is good, which actually might have something to do with how much time they put into each film. Also Allen seems to like doing his own thing from time to time as well, and it looks like both brothers have are now working on two separate films with two very similar names – Allen is doing Broken City, and Albert is doing Motor City. That can’t be a coincidence.
4. Lord Of The Flies
This is exactly why you don’t leave kids unsupervised. I forget how many days this film is supposed to take place over, but a group of young boys really only need a couple of hours to be reduced to pig decapitating half-naked animals running around with spears attempting to appease some mysterious island force like they’re the cast of Lost. Even for the British – turning a group of kids into a hoard of Machiavellian lost boys would only take an afternoon tops.
The best part of this film is when the navel officer first discovers the group at the end – the look on his face is priceless. Like you just know this whole time they’ve been sailing to the wreckage thinking, “I’m sure they’re all doing okay. How bad could it be?”
3. Battle Royale
Yeah, of course.
There was a lot of talk about this film when The Hunger Games came out because of how similar it was. Like, people seemed angry about that – but if you ask me, Hollywood can make as many movies about teenagers fighting on an island as they want to make because that’s some goddamn entertainment. Of course, The Hunger Games also isn’t on this list, so that’s got to tell you something.
The best detail of Battle Royale was the range of weapons (and sometimes non-weapons) that each student received. A great way to get to know a person is to watch the movie with them and ask them what they’d want as a weapon. With shotguns and crossbows featured you’d think it would be an easy choice, but there are also sneakier tools given to them like the cyanide or the GPS tracking device. Think about that – with the GPS you could just sneak up on somebody with a gun and take them out, right? Then you’d not only have a gun but would also know where everyone is on the island. Of course if murdering your fellow classmates isn’t your thing you could always go with the fan or saucepan lid.
2. Rebel Without A Cause
Even though he was 24 at the time, James Dean really knew his teenage angst. You see it right at the beginning when he drunkenly stumbles around the police station, a crying violent mess. Despite his outbursts – you still get a feeling of compassion from him right away. He has just the right amount of broken in his performance for you to love him from the start.
And boy does this movie get violent. Like – there’s no blood or anything, but an awful lot of teenagers die in this film considering when it was made. You think, ‘Okay, there’s going to be a car race and maybe a knife fight.’ But then people start whipping out guns and hanging chickens and shit – next thing you know there’s a goddamn standoff with the cops. It’s pretty damn dark.
Have to say – Jim’s parents are ice cold. Even at the end when Jim finally introduces them to his girlfriend and opens up to them for the first time – they turn and smile at each other all happy. That would be fine if it weren’t for the fact that they police just carried away the body of a dead teenager. Like… their kid just saw someone die and they’re all like “Aw he’s in love!”
1. A Clockwork Orange
There’s a mechanism that goes off in everyone’s brain that causes people to forget that the main character of this film is supposed to be young. I think it’s a psychological defense system that enables you to watch the film without being horrified. Maybe it’s just me actually.
For most Kubrick films you can kind of pin it all down on him – like, he chose amazing talent and all that but there’s always this feeling that it would have been great no matter what. I don’t get that same feeling with this film; Malcolm McDowell is just as responsible for it being what it is as Kubrick. Remember ‘Singing in the Rain’? He improvised that. After the film came out Gene Kelly apparently wouldn’t talk to McDowell because of it. After all – he took something wonderful and in one take made it completely horrifying.
That’s why this is number one, not for blood or brutality but rather for that moment where the film took something the audience loved and made them hate it. It took away their comfort zone.
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