Sweet Sixteen (1983)

sweet sixteen poster 1983 movie
6.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 5/10
Visuals: 6/10

A little more creative than some slasher films

Almost more mystery than horror

Movie Info

Movie Name: Sweet Sixteen

Studio: Sweet Sixteen Productions

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s): September 16, 1983

MPAA Rating: R

sweet sixteen tommy tony perfit

Tommy…can you hear me? Tommy, can you see me?

Melissa Morgan (Aleisa Shirley) has moved to town with her father Dr. John Morgan (Patrick Macnee) who is researching the local Native American burial ground and her mother Joanne (Susan Strasberg).  Unfortunately, people around Melissa begin to show-up dead.  First a boy named Johnny (Glenn Withrow) she spent an evening with and then another teen named Tommy (Tony Perfit).  Sheriff Dan Burke (Bo Hopkins) worries that he has a serial killer in town and local anger toward Native American Jason Longshadow (Don Shanks) could be justified.  Melissa is turning sixteen and the killing has just begun.

Directed by Jim Sotos, Sweet Sixteen is a slasher mystery horror movie.  The film was met with reasonably positive reviews and gained a cult following over the years.

I remember the cover of the VHS movie in our local video, but it didn’t look like it had a Jason, Freddy, or even a Tall Man so it didn’t interest me.  Watching Sweet Sixteen, it was a better movie than I expected because it wasn’t a typical slasher type of movie.  Due to the style of the movie, a ******spoiler alert****** is in effect for the rest of the film.

sweet sixteen aleisa shirley steve antin

A potential serial killer? Let’s go skinny dipping!

The movie is built like the original Friday the 13th in that it is largely a mystery.  The movie starts rather jarring and feels like you picked up a story midway before the plot and characters are established.  There are some murders (largely off camera), but the identity of the murder is unknown.  The film is filled with many red herrings…including focusing the movie around Melissa (including with the title).  The mystery was relatively easy to figure out, but the ending is a little understated (including Patrick Macnee not really being shocked and horrified that his wife is a crazed murderer).

The movie loses a bit of its steam in how the cast is used.  The movie is largely about Sheriff Dan Burke played by Bo Hopkins.  Hopkins does a fine job with the role, but it feels like the slasher film should revolve around Aleisa Shirley’s Melissa or at least Burke’s children played by Dana Kimmell and Steve Antin.  Character actor Patrick Macnee plays a very Patrick Macnee part in the film as the intellectual archaeologist (and in being a “name”, also a potential suspect).

sweet sixteen stabbing victim

She was only 15? Boy, my face is red…

The movie isn’t shot very flashy and the gore is rather minimal.  It does involve a lot of 1980s horror movie nudity (full frontal) which is pretty uncomfortable since the lead character played by Shirley is supposed to be fifteen turning sixteen (in real life Shirley was about twenty).

Sweet Sixteen was kind of fun.  It was as you’d expect and if you take out the nudity, it almost felt a little like an (entertaining) TV movie of the week.  The movie is short and lacks the clever reflexive nature of horror films now, but that simplicity and un-PC nature of films from that period are something that feels like is being missed by modern horror.  I think we need a new Sweet Sixteen with Melissa all grown up (if more people had seen Sweet Sixteen, we probably would have).

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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