10,000 Bullets   Exploring the world of Cinema from the Arthouse to the Grindhouse™

Sweet Sixteen 
Written by: on October 11th, 2008

Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1982
Director: Jim Sotos
Writer: Erwin Goldman
Cast: Bo Hopkins, Susan Strasberg, Patrick Macnee, Don Stroud, Dana Kimmell, Don Shanks, Aleisa Shirley

DVD released: October 21st, 2008
Approximate running time: 88 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
Subtitles: N/A
DVD Release: Code Red
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.98

Synopsis: A young woman named Melissa has just recently moved to town and is having trouble fitting in. A few murders happen shortly after her arrival causing the locales to panic. Melissa’s mother invites the whole town to her daughters’ sixteenth birthday party to ease the escalating tension.

Sweet Sixteen was directed by Jim Sotos who also directed Hot Moves and Forced Entry. The plot for Sweet Sixteen while containing elements that is prominent in many horror films. It is actually more like a, who done it murder mystery as the killings are not that violent or gory. The plot biggest weakness is that it spends way too much time exploring the more banal events in each characters life and not enough time going for the throat. My favorite moment in the film is a scene where Melissa sits by a tree eating an apple. A blond Adonis looking boy comes over to talk to her. She is like the forbidden fruit that Eve took a bit of and this boy is now destined to for a quick demise like all those who before him showed interest in her.

The film’s opening moments of Melissa taking a shower have a Brian De Palma like quality to them. The final act is where things start to finally come together, especially the big reveal at the end of the film. The film’s soundtrack is weak with the only motif that stands out being the cheesy theme song titled “Melissa”. The acting all around is surprisingly good with Aleisa Shirley in the role of Melissa having the most memorable performance in the film. Ultimately Sweet Sixteen is an entertaining thriller that retreads familiar ground.

The DVD:

Code Red presents Sweet Sixteen in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. Code Red had placed a disclaimer on the box art and before the theatrical cut of the film mentioning that the materials used are in less then stellar condition. While the source material used for these transfers is not reference quality. It is still very watchable and at times look really good considering the condition of the source. For this release two version of the film have been included the new director’s cut and the original theatrical cut of the film. The director’s cut fares better quality wise of the two cuts. The director’s cut flagged for progressive playback and the theatrical cut is interlaced. Colors look good with some instances where they look overblown or faded. There are some minor instances of print damage; still it is never to the degree that takes away from the film. The one area where the transfer looks the best is has detailed it looks.

This release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital mono mix in English. Outside of some background noise that crop’s up throughout. The audio mix for this release is more than serviceable and gets the job done.

Extras for this release include a trailer for Sweet Sixteen, an image gallery with pictures from original press materials and on camera interviews with actor Bo Hopkins, actress Aleisa Shirley and director Jim Sotos. This interview is not as informative as the audio commentary as the three participants in the interview spend most of the time saying how much they enjoyed working together and not much more. As mentioned before the original theatrical version of the film films which runs 87 minutes and forty two second has been included. The new director’s cut of the film runs exactly eighty eight minutes. The main extra for this release is an audio commentary with Jim Sotos and Aleisa Shirley. This commentary is moderated by director Scott Spiegel. Even though there are some moments of dead air. The commentary as a whole is fun and fact filled journey that is never dull. Also include with this release are trailers for Nightmare, Rituals, The Balalaika Conspiracy and Stunt Rock. Overall Sweet Sixteen gets a definitive DVD release from Code Red, recommended.

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