What would happen if you took the kids from The Breakfast Club and stranded them together on a deserted island with only a backpack full of Spam and vodka? Oh, and what if the island also turned out to be the meeting place for gunrunners looking to make a connection?
Well, that’s not quite the premise for 1985’s Out Of Control, but it’s pretty close.
Actually, it’s probably not fair to call the kids in Out Of Control an echo of those in The Breakfast Club, because while they do, at first, resemble the well-worn stereotypes of high schoolers portrayed in TBC, (the jock, the prom queen, the punk princess, the outsider, etc.) they eventually actually manage to at least somewhat break free from those molds and have personalities of their own.
I have to admit that I approached this movie as a kind of guilty pleasure revisited. I remember watching it way back when, when it first came out on VHS, and I don’t think I’ve watched it in full since. As a matter of fact, I don’t think the movie ever made the transition to DVD and as far as I know it has been out of print since that original VHS release until the recent blue-ray conversion by Code Red which isn’t even available on Amazon.
Okay, so, the plot: It’s prom night, (or, actually I suppose it’s actually graduation night, though the party seems more prom-ish) and post-dance, a group of friends board the plane of rich kid Kevin to head to a weekend of debauchery on a tropical island. Unfortunately for them, the plane is caught in a storm, and crashes into the sea. Though the kids all survive, the pilot is killed in the wreck. They manage to fin a lifeboat an make it to shore on what appears to be a small deserted island.
With the rising of the sun our band of intrepid adventurers set out to explore the island, seeking food, shelter, and to make a signal fire to attract the attention of any passing rescue planes or boats. Oh, and they also run across an inland lake where the girls can have a quick dip. Because that’s important, too.
Along with some berries which will provide sustenance for awhile, the kids also find a backpack filled with cans of Spam and vodka. They also find some sort of ruin which will provide at least a limited amount of shelter.
So let’s see: We’ve got eight horny teenagers alone, and a lot of booze. Of course nothing untoward is going to happen, right? Yeah, right. It’s not too long before what begins as an innocent game of spin the bottle turns into strip spin the bottle. However, as the inhibitions and clothes are left behind, old resentments and tensions come to the fore. There are arguments and fist fights, hook ups and break ups.
Nonetheless, the kids make it through the night and the next day they see a boat off the shore. Good news, right? Rescue! Again, yeah, not so much.
It turns out that the boat belongs to a group of gun runners who are awaiting the arrival of their buyers. Upon seeing the kids waving to them from the shore, the bad guys decide the best bet is to pretend to be there to rescue them, bring them aboard their boat, then have some “fun” with them. And yes, by “fun” I mean exactly what you think I mean.
Eventually the kids manage to escape their captors, killing them, but also inadvertently blowing up the boat.Now on higher alert, the kids do their best to prepare and fight back when the evil partners arrive.
Part of the fun of Out Of Control is seeing some of the young performers featured. The lead is played by Betsy Russell, who would play many of the same type of role during the eighties, but is probably best known to audiences today as one of the leads in the later films of the Saw series. Martin Hewitt is Keith, still riding on his fame from costarring in Endless Love with Brooke Shields. Andrew J. Lederer features as Elliot, who starts the film as the token, somewhat obnoxious “fat kid”, but one of the pluses of the movie is that he is allowed to move beyond that stereotypical role (which, in any typical horror flick of the era would have seen him killed off very early) to become a stronger than expected character who participates in the ensuing heroism as much as the rest of the more buff male cast.
Perhaps most surprising among the young cast, though is a very young Sherilynn Fenn who is given an “introducing” credit here even though she’d already had a couple of films released by this time, Fenn is, of course, best known especially to genre fans for her role as Audrey Horne in David Lynch’s enigmatic television series Twin Peaks..
Now don’t get me wrong here, I am not suggesting that Out Of Control is some kind of lost classic. I’m not even suggesting that in the end it’s that particularly good of a movie. Still, as far as 80s teen actioners (which is actually more of a genre than you might think) go, you could certainly do a lot worse. The movie has a certain charm, and a cast that manages to rise somewhat above the material they are given. I’d say it’s at least worth a watch, perhaps late at night when there’s nothing more compelling on.
Here’s a trailer: