Mike “McBeardo” McPadden

Teen Movie Hell

Published by Bazillion Points

Apr 12, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


In the opening to his latest film guide, Mike McPadden describes the movies covered in Teen Movie Hell as “porno movies watered down for thirteen-year-olds.” From the mid-1970s through its peak in the early-mid 1980s, a highly profitable exploitation genre rose from the simple reality that raunchy comedy movies were the easiest way for horny youngsters to catch a glimpse of naked skin. After the massive financial success of 1978’s Animal House, filmmakers and studios came to realize they could throw together a group of stock characters, mix in some gross-out humor, and toss in a few shots of girls undressed (likely viewed through a locker room peephole) and they might have a hit on their hands. Teen sex comedies were cheap to make, and they were easy to sell to hormonal adolescent boys.

Over the course of Teen Movie Hell, McPadden runs the gauntlet of coming-of-age comedies, “from Animal House to Zapped!” as its cover boasts. It’s a whole-hearted appreciation of a genre that has all but expired since the ‘90s, and one that’s rarely been given its due. For all of the crudity of a film like Porky’s, there were more heartfelt movies such as The Last American Virgin which explored the desires and pains of being a teenager with a level of candor that was rarely seen elsewhere. Outside of after-school-specials here and there, no films broached real-world issues such as STDs, teen pregnancy, or being an outcast like the teen sex comedy. McPadden knows far better than to treat every film included here as a work of art, but approaches each movie he covers – even a z-grade dud like Hot T-Shirts – with the level of respect it deserves.

There’s something else definitely worth noting, and that is that it’s a nice to see the book bolstered with essays by women film writers such as Kat Ellinger, Wendy McClure, and Katie Rife. Given how badly many of these films treated their female characters, it’s a perspective that absolutely needed to be included in any modern, critical analysis of this genre. 

Like McPadden’s prior Heavy Metal Movies, this is a book that belongs in the collection of anyone who fondly remembers slipping out of their local rental shop with an R-rated videocassette, even when the counter clerk knew darn well you weren’t yet seventeen.

(www.bazillionpoints.com/product/pre-order-teen-movie-hell)

Author rating: 8/10

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