The Boys Next Door Reviews
All in all, worth the watch - plus ironically due to the low knowledge of this film, most people won't realize it was remade in 2013. That film is called "Girls against Boys". Same thing.
so much violence!!!!
There is a confusion in this movie between spree killers and serial killers. We start with discussion of the latter, but the movie is really about the former. These are not people who have anything in common with, say, David Berkowitz, who is one of the people shown at the beginning. These two are closer to Charles Starkweather, who--with or without the help of his girlfriend, Caril Ann Fugate (depending on which of them you asked)--killed eleven people in two months. Generally, spree killers are less methodical and less likely to kill similar people. Serial killers tend to have a preferred victim and a preferred method of killing. There are insights to be gained from the study of serial killers, but these boys just don't fit into it. This movie is the story of one terrible weekend, and while it's true that the boys were loners and outcasts before the movie starts, but it's equally true that there is no reason to believe they had a body count yet.
Roy Alston (Maxwell Caulfield) and Bo Richards (Charlie Sheen) are graduating from some high school in middle-of-nowhere, Arizona. They have never gotten along with their classmates. Bo's grandparents give him two hundred dollars for graduation, and after the boys make a total nuisance of themselves at a classmate's party, they steal his mother's dog and drive to California. Only Los Angeles isn't what they expect--Mythic Los Angeles strikes again--and they decide to make their own fun. This starts with a gas station attendant who angers them by only giving them the gas they pay for; Roy beats him half to death. They hit an old lady with a beer bottle on Venice Beach. They then drive off with several women attacking their car. And on and on, while policemen are left to figure out if the crimes are connected. Which initially they have no reason to expect but which becomes increasingly obvious, given their car.
Bo is not a healthy boy, but he would get in far less trouble in the end had he just avoided Roy like everyone else. He strikes me as the sort of person whose life would be improved if he just moved away from where everyone had known him his entire life, somewhere he could teach himself how to be a different person. Maybe if he got a little counseling. Got out of his own head for a while. Bad Influences and Peer Pressure only count for so much, I think; there are some minds that are just more susceptible to that kind of thing, and I think Bo is one of them. When he meets the girl, Angie (Patti D'Arbanville), he realizes that there's a life out there that isn't the one he's always thought he'd be stuck with. He can get out. He can meet girls. He doesn't have to work in a factor and stay in the same small town. And if he had learned that [i]before[/i] he had gone on a crime spree (and probably one which would get him the death penalty), that would have been so much the better for him.
Early in the film, Roy tells Bo about the anger he has inside himself. He reminds Bo of a time when he was legitimately angry, when someone damaged the car, and tells him that he himself feels that way all the time. He considers joining the Marines to find an outlet for it, but the recruiter (Leonard O. Turner) knows the sort of questions being asked and says that the Marines are not for him. And indeed they are not; a military organization doesn't want someone who resents taking orders. They don't want loose cannons, and there's only so much inner rage which can be channeled. Bo would not have gotten into anywhere near as much trouble without Roy, but eventually, Roy would have gotten into just as much trouble without Bo. He was a lit fuse. The rules of society not merely didn't apply to him but simply didn't factor into his thought processes. In short, Roy was legally insane. No matter what situation he found himself in, it was only a matter of time, and not much of it, before he killed.
That he was half in love with Bo didn't help. Oh, I'm not sure it was scripted that way; certainly one would not currently ask Charlie Sheen to find out. But there is definitely tension between the two, and it helps elevate a cheap exploitation flick into something a little more. Not [i]much[/i] more; this is still a mediocre film at best. (Though it is awfully satisfying when someone gets yelled at for using language which was common and even acceptable in 1985.) It could have been even better had that aspect of their relationship really been explored. After all, those rare killers who work together usually have something complicated and sexual between them. We don't much like to talk about it, because we as a society fear even tamer kinds of alternate sexuality, but the thrill of killing isn't just the kind of thrill the average person gets from, say, a roller coaster. There are more hormones at work than just adrenaline. Though of course, both of these guys are part of a mindset which wouldn't let them admit mutual attraction even if they weren't crazy.
Director Penelope Spheeris is probably most well-known for her work on perennial comedic fare, such as "Wayne's World" and "Black Sheep," but long before that she was a very edgy and somewhat visionary filmmaker. Some of her earliest works have a very deep social commentary to them, of which this film is one of her best (and most overlooked). This tale of two high school outcasts, who go to the big city and raise some murderous hell, almost has a modern ring to it. In the wake of real life events, like the massacres at Columbine and Virgina Tech, this film seems less the low-rent crime drama it probably was seen as when it first debuted and more like a prophecy of things to come.
It is absolutely chilling in how it shows the casual use of violence by two supposed teenagers. Their lack of conscience and concern for anything or anyone, save themselves, feels like a mirror being held up to our so-called modern world. What really stuck out for me, though, was the moments of seemingly uncontainable rage expressed by the character of Roy (incredibly performed by Maxwell Caulfield). One scene that truly made my blood run cold, was after his first act of violence on a gas-station attendant, when he and his friend Bo (played by a very young Charlie Sheen, in one of his earliest leading roles) are talking about it in their hotel room, and Roy expresses that the beating wasn't good enough. That he should have killed him. The look of satisfaction on his face as he expresses these thoughts, brought out a dark symmetry to the character, which would dominate everything he does afterwards. It actually comes off like a blueprint to the mindset of such thrill-killers that we see in our real world today. I really enjoyed how the film almost plays like a docudrama in some instances, like this one.
While some of the language and settings might be a bit dated, the emotion and societal insights into the mind of teenage rage are as powerful now as they ever were back in 1985 (when the film debuted). At the time, this film had a bit of controversy about it, due to the amounts of violence shown on screen, but I think that today, in our much more politically-correct minded worldview, it is the thoughts behind the violence which should be more disturbing. It is a film that has truly become MORE relevant as time has gone by, not less. If there is anything lacking in the film, it would be not enough information given on the characters life at home. We see the torment they have with not fitting in with their peers at school, as well as their fears of living out the rest of their lives at dead-end jobs, but there is little info on the role played by the family in helping these boys to be filled with such murderous contempt. There is one scene with Roy's father being shown as a neglectful parent, more interested in getting his next beer than the welfare of his son, but I felt this brief glimpse should have been expand on more. Still, even lacking in this one area, the film is still a very potent brew to behold.
Make no mistake, this is not a "feel good" or party film. It is a shocking, and sometimes twisted, look into how society can mold a teenager into a raging killer and how easily the that rage can be let loose on an unprepared society. And the fact these two characters are attractive looking, as well, only deepens the scary similarities of our current times. Despite that, however, it is certainly a very worthwhile film and is deserving of much more attention. If you are looking for a film that isn't just out to entertain you, but also make you think, this is one movie you need to seek out! But be warned... prepare to be unnerved by much of what you will see. I doubt many will walk away from this film totally unaffected, nor should they.
It's not just a motion picture...It's a warning.
It's in the look. It's in the touch. It's in the eyes. It's the latest style...IN MADNESS.
Day by day, they're changing the face of America...and they're barely old enough to vote.
They're trapped...They don't fit in...What happens when there's no way out?
The anger. The destructiveness. The urge to kill in cold blood. They weren't born with it...