A Movie A Day #320: Dangerously Close (1986, directed by Albert Pyun)


Vista Verde, an exclusive suburban high school in California, has a problem.  Some of the students have a bad attitude.  Some of them are experimenting with drugs.  Graffiti is showing up all over the school.  What better way to return peace to Vista Verde than for a bunch of WASPy rich kids and other jocks to organize into a secret vigilante force?  The headmaster thinks that it’s a great idea and soon “The Sentinels” are holding mock trials and shooting the other students with paintball guns.  One bad kid even turns up dead.  Graffiti is no joke.

The leader of the Sentinels is a rich kid named Randy (John Stockwell, who also co-wrote the script).  Randy knows the importance of good PR so he befriend the editor of the school newspaper, Donny (J. Eddie Peck).  Donny may not be rich but, because of his amazing journalism skills, he has been allowed to attend Vista Verde as a magnet student.  At first, Donny is skeptical of The Sentinels but he soon finds himself seduced by not only Randy’s wealthy lifestyle but also by Randy’s beautiful girlfriend (Carey Lowell).  Meanwhile, Donny’s friend Krooger (Bradford Bancroft) not only listens to punk music but also has a mohawk so he naturally becomes the latest target of the Sentinels.

A teen film with a conscience, Dangerously Close was one of the better films to come out of the Cannon Group in the mid-80s.  The script is smarter than the average 80s teen film and Albert Pyun’s slick direction captures the appeal of being young and rich in the suburbs.  Stockwell, Peck, and Lowell all give better than average performances  and there is actually some unexpected depth to Stockwell and Peck’s friendship.  Stockwell does not play Randy as just being a typical rich villain.  Instead, he is someone who thinks he’s doing the right thing even when he’s not.

The cast is full of faces that will be familiar to anyone who has ever been a fan of 80s high school films.  Keep an eye out for Thom Matthews, Don Michael Paul, Gerard Christopher, Miguel Nunez, Jr., and DeeDee Pfeiffer, all doing their part to keep the halls of Vista Verde safe.

 

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