• The Boys Next Door (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: November 19th, 2019.
    Director: Penelope Spheeris
    Cast: Charlie Sheen, Maxwell Caulfield, Patti D'Arbanville
    Year: 1985
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    The Boys Next Door – Movie Review:

    Bo Richards (Charlie Sheen) and Roy Alston (Maxwell Caulfield) have just graduated high school. They aren’t rich like those they grew up around, but they manage to make a celebratory trip to Los Angeles where they intend to live it up and cut loose before taking the inevitable factory jobs that they know await them.

    It isn’t long before we realize these guys have issues, especially Roy. We see this first hand when they beat the crap out of a gas station attendant but it escalates quickly and before you know it they’re getting into trouble at a gay bar, beating up an old woman, abusing some young bikini-clad girls and really just letting out all of their pent up anger on anybody that they come into contact with. Things go from dark to darker as the story progresses.

    A very blunt look at male rage, the American class war and the effects of poverty, repressed homosexuality and two young men unable to deal with their anger in sane, rational ways, The Boys Next Door is as grim as it is effective. The third film from Penelope Spheeris, who had previously made the Decline Of Western Civilization and Suburbia and who would on to helm Wayne’s World and Black Sheep (quite an interesting ride, she’s had!), the film is gutsy, gritty and very well done. Set primarily along the Sunset Strip in mid-eighties Los Angeles, the picture benefits from a sleazy, neon backdrop for much of its running time. This makes the picture an interesting time capsule of its day and a document of a less sanitized big city than many of us are used to more than thirty years later. Like a lot of Spheeris’ films, this one also benefits from a great soundtrack. Yeah, we get some hair metal from Great White but so too do we get contributions from greats like Iggy Pop and The Cramps. Spheeris has always had a knack for choosing the right music to suit her stories, and this entry in her filmography is no exception.

    None of this would have worked had the performances not been up to par. Thankfully, the two leads deliver. Charlie Sheen is very good here, as the less psychotic of the pair. Bo is, at least to start with, more interested in girls than anything else, at one point hitting it off with pretty Angie (Patti D’arbanville), but as the movie gets darker and his character shifts, Sheen’s acting shifts with it and he becomes less charming and more intense. Outdoing Sheen every step of the way, however, is Caulfield. Reasonably fresh off of the massive flop that was Grease 2, his career was at a low point when the film was made but he gives one hundred percent with this performance. He’s intense and frightening, his character so very clearly conflicted but unable to access the part of his psyche that would allow him to get the help he so clearly needs. A shrink could have a field day working through the repression that these two deal with, and the more you think about the characters the more there is to chew on, but Sheen and Caulfield are fantastic in the picture. The script by Glen Morgan (of the Willard and Black Christmas remakes) and James Wong (of Final Destination fame) gives the two actors a lot to work with, the characters are layered and interesting enough that, even when we should, we can’t instantly villainize them.

    The Boys Next Door – Blu-ray Review:

    Severin Films brings The Boys Next Door to Blu-ray with a new 4k scan of the original 35mm negative framed at 1.85.1 widescreen on a 50GB disc. The picture quality here is good, with nice color reproduction and strong detail. There’s plenty of natural film grain but not much in the way at all of actual print damage. The picture is very film-like, showing no problems with noise reduction or edge enhancement and is thankfully free of any noticeable compression artifacts. Black levels are strong and skin tones look good as well.

    Audio chores are handled well by the disc’s DTS-HD 2.0 mix. Optional subtitles are offered up in English only. The mix has good clarity and range, the dialogue is perfectly audible and the track is balanced nicely. The film benefits from a really strong soundtrack and the music used throughout the movie sounds quite strong here.

    Extras include an audio commentary with director Penelope Spheeris and actor Maxwell Caulfield, ported over from the old DVD release. It’s a good track with Spheeries speaking quite candidly about how and why she came to make this film, casting the picture, the locations, the use of music in the film, the themes that it deals with and more while Caulfield shares stories from the set and speaks about working with Sheen and the other actors, his character and other related topics.

    There are also some nice featurettes here too, starting with Blind Rage, an interview with Stephen Thrower, the author of Nightmare USA, that clocks in at twenty-five-minutes. As is typical of Thrower’s contributions to cult films, it’s a smart look at the way that the film explores its themes and an interesting dissection of its history and effectiveness. Both Side of the Law gets actors Maxwell Caulfield and Christopher McDonald in front of the camera for twenty-minutes to speak about their experiences on set, their careers at this point in time, some of the people that they collaborated with on the picture and more. Give Us Your Money interviews with Street Band performers Texacala Jones and Tequila Mockingbird that lasts just under six-minutes. It’s a quick discussion of the musical contributions that they made to the film. Caveman Day is a bit where Cinemaniacs interview director Penelope Spheeris and actor Maxwell Caulfield for twenty-one-minutes, covering some of the same ground as the commentary track but worth seeing regardless. Tales from the End Zone is an interview with actor Kenneth Cortland that lasts just a hair over twelve-minutes that offers up some insight into how he wound up on the film, his thoughts on the picture and his experiences on set. The Psychotronic Tourist takes a look at the locations of The Boys Next Door in a fourteen-minute segment that shows how the areas used to shoot the film appear in the modern day. Stuff like this is always interesting and this piece is no exception to that rule.

    Rounding out the extras is an alternate opening title sequence (using the Blood Rage title) and a selection of extended scenes (presented silent), the film’s original theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection.

    The Boys Next Door – The Final Word:

    The Boys Next Door is smart, well-made and effectively unsettling. The performances are strong and the movie hits hard, making you think about the characters that populate and why they act the way that they do. Severin’s Blu-ray release is a very good one, boasting a strong presentation and a nice selection of extra features documenting its history and impact. Great stuff.

    Click on the images below for full sized The Boys Next Door Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 5 Comments
    1. Matt H.'s Avatar
      Matt H. -
      Great movie, but that cover art is hideous.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      it is terrible. I wonder how these companies can claim to love films when this shit artwork comes out.
    1. moviegeek86's Avatar
      moviegeek86 -
      It's a bad cover for sure but what matters is the disc itself.
    1. Matt H.'s Avatar
      Matt H. -
      I was looking at various posters for this at imdb and none of them are good. The official one used on the page makes it look like a gay porno. I'd say the best art is on the VHS release.
    1. Darcy Parker's Avatar
      Darcy Parker -
      Is that Paul Reiser in that one screen grab?