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This is one of the best of the very energetic, engrossing and entertaining AIP teen flicks of the 60's. It is well photographed, has great music and some really inventive violence. The cast is excellent including David Macklin as a handsome but horrible mexican hating psychopath.
This 1968 film stands out from other low-budget 1960s teen flicks for
its seriousness and unusual direction. Despite their sometimes "gee
whiz" innocence typical of other 1960s films, high school students here
deal with racism, activism, violence and rape. As dissatisfaction with
unequal treatment of Mexican-American students increases, violence
escalates. Students find themselves facing property destruction,
graphic violence and a unique torture.
Most notable is the standout direction by Maury Dexter. Dolly, tracking and crane shots add visual interest when a stationary camera would have sufficed; plus, violence is filmed with active camera placements. For example, inside and in front of vehicles during chase sequences and inside a salvage airplane along with the actors (or stunt doubles) as a piece of wrecking equipment slices through it - an especially unusual sequence. Further visual interest is added by excellent editing that keeps a realistic timeline through quick cutting among multiple cameras at the climaxes of action but is not so excessive as to be confusing as is too common in today's action movies. At times, the editing is "psychedelic" quick, for example during a rock band's performance and might remind the viewer of filmmaker Russ Meyer's unusual editing.
I was surprised to see a very young A Martinez (billed as Adolph Martinez) in what is apparently his first movie and, though his role is small, is very good. Also exceptional is the lively score by the great Les Baxter. Fans of his "tropical lounge" music will appreciate hints of it here among congas, timbales and prominent brass. Listen for it! In all, a movie most compelling for its unusual direction and serious tone, though the acting sometimes turns "Sharks vs Jets" melodramatic.
Though I only saw this movie once in JHS while I was living on Andersen AFB Guam 1968-70, this movie has stuck with me. It may have been the always high production values of AIP. But I think it had to be the of acting.Tom Nardini (Cat Balou) and Patricia (Patty) McCormack (The Bad Seed). Both actors not unknown to Academy caliber level films. My only goal is to see it one more time to reassure me that it was worth the brain cells. Otherwise, I have to say, I loved it when I saw it.
Although American International Pictures (the drive-in specialists who put the ''ex'' in ''Exploitation) promoted this film in their usual, lurid way, (''They Run In Packs, And What They Do Makes Headlines!'') , it's actually a good, if simplistic look at White vs. Mexicans in a California High School. Tom Nardini (''Cat Ballou'') is the new Latino kid on the block who tries, peacefully, to combat the prejudice faced by the Mexican students, from both the white kids as well as some of the faculty. When he becomes involved with a sympathetic ''Gringo'' girl, (Patty McCormack), her bigoted ex-boyfriend (David Macklin) and his gang vow revenge. And revenge he gets, in some pretty tense scenes which are uncomfortable to watch, even today. As a hot-headed student at odds with Nardini's approach to their problems, Zooey Hall is impressive. His girlfriend is played by the lovely Joanna Frank (''The Savage Seven'') and though her part is relatively small, she is just as effective. In fact, all of the acting is convincing here,( including an early appearance by a young A Martinez) and if the resolution seems a bit far-fetched, the film's heart is in the right place. At the last minute, the title was switched to ''Born Wild'', which really doesn't do it justice either, but, under any name, it's a good example of a ''Teen Flick'' with an actual message, something most were lacking. The photography, by Ken Peach is excellent, belying the film's low budget. The editing is jumpy in places, but nothing seems to have been removed which would spoil the continuity. (It's noticeable mostly in the abbreviated performances of the two rock bands ''The American Revolution'' and ''Orphan Egg'', both of whom were under contract to AIP at the time). Good Les Baxter score, too. It's worth seeing at least once.
I'm surprised to come here and find the other reviewers almost all rating this higher than I did. Each fight is hilariously terrible. I think the stuff teens put on YouTube looks better staged. In one shot you could even tell the boy slugged was actually jumping back up on the car himself. I guess they couldn't find any stunt-men who looked like they were high school-age? 'Nice to see that A Martinez rose above his being in this. I do agree that the rock was o.k. How many flicks have soundtracks like this? VERY few. And any film with Patty McCormack is worth at least 5 stars so__, though I sure wish Patty had been it more. Yes, I am thankful that the oldies movies stations occasionally put films like this on for me who didn't see it back when it came out.
There is a website out there somewhere that specializes in the 4 word
film review. This movie easily fits into that category (see summary
above). It is a typical stereotypical film that religiously follows
every imaginable cliché.
The characters are supposed to be high school students, but the lead actor Tony (good chicano) was 33 at the time of the film, and most of the other actors appear to be in their early to mid twenties.
Making a long story short, the good chicano eventually gets the better of the bad gringos, and walks away with a good gringo girl (Patty McCormick), which really burns the bad gringos. The plot is predictable and irrelevant, but if you must watch the film you can get a good history lesson on 60's fashion and cars.
This was typical for the period, and is still true today. Caucasian
bashing. This kind of "reverse discrimination" continues today. The
picture began during the genesis of the Socialist "Hippie" movement, as
an outgrowth of the "beatnik" to the "social justice" drumbeat of
today's "politically correct" silencing of America's majority.
Demonize the dominant culture and make them all appear as hate-filled morons. It was said before "Chicanos good, Caucasians bad". This is not really new. I wouldn't watch it again. There is no point to this malarkey. I would just as soon watch an anti-American flag-burning rally. I became tired of it at age 13 and I am tired of it now.
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