CANNON MONTH: Young Warriors/The Graduates of Malibu High (1983)

Intended as a sequel to Malibu High, which is itself an absolutely berserk film that has a poster that promises summer love and delivers a nihilistic blast of hatred, Young Warriors is possibly directed* by Lawrence David Foldes, the one-time teen wunderkind — or publicity machine, the jury is out — who made Don’t Go Near the Park before he turned twenty and produced the aforementioned Malibu High at the same time.

Produced by Victoria Paige Meyerink, who was once Danny Kaye’s TV daughter and at the time of this movie’s creation, the wife of Foldes and another twenty-something mover and shaker, the resulting film is like nothing before or since. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing.

The first part of this movie seems like a teen comedy, with Kevin Carrigan (James Van Patten) and his frat buddies Fred (Mike Norris, brother of Chuck) and Stan (Ed De Stefane), chase Linnea Quigley nude from their bed and pull off pranks like tying pledge’s cocks to bricks and then tossing said masonry, appendages be damned. You may think that this entire movie is going to be a wacky story about their hijinks, but Young Warriors decides to rug pull you throughout the film.

So when another frat guy named Roger (Nels Van Patten) is getting a copy of Dr. Alex Comfort’s The Joy of Sex and re-enacting it with a librarian in the stacks, as well as the rest of the guys shaving a pledge’s ass and making him pick up a cocktail olive with his butt, drop it in some vodka and drink deep, that’s when we discover Kevin’s sister Tiffany coming home from the prom. As if the future ghost of Michael Winner is directing this with his ethereal perverted old man hand, she and her date are chased home from the prom and assaulted. This scene is intercut with the frat guys riding a horse through a party and then you remember, oh, this is a Cannon movie.

That’s when you may be led to believe that Kevin’s dad Lt. Bob Carrigan (Ernest Borgnine) and his partner Sergeant John Austin (Richard Roundtree) are about to become the leads of the movie, hunting down those who hurt Tiffany. But nope, not even these two movie tough guys can get through all it takes to get over police procedure — maybe Bob is too busy with his wife, played by my favorite tennis-playing undercover cop Lynda Day George — so Kevin and the frat guys go commando and grab guns, grenades and shades and become Bluto Blutarsky cosplaying as Frank Castle.

Somehow, this goes from being an Animal House film with cute dog named Butch wearing sunglasses reaction shots to a Death Wish film with cute dog named Butch wearing sunglasses reaction shots. I’m obsessed by sequels that change the narrative or genre of the original movie, so just imagine how wild I am about a movie that does it within the very same movie. It’s jarring and it’s also astounding that the movie becomes a sensitive indictment — well, sometimes — of the downward spiral of being a vigilante after so many dick jokes.

Also: Kevin’s path of revenge takes a break for some sweet lovemaking surrounded by an infinite number of candles, joined by his woman Lucy (Anne Lockhart from the original Battlestar Galactica and the first Troll).

Also also: major points for having Dick Shawn as a professor that debates the entire plot of the film with its protagonist. Shawn would follow this with his turn as Mae in Angel. Always great in everything, I always look for him to make movies better.

Also also also: this movie is dedicator to King Vidor. Yes, really.

*Deran Sarafian claims to have ghost directed this movie. A former actor (10 to Midnight), he started making his own movies with The Falling and Interzone. As for Lawrence David Foldes, the must have Stephen Thrower book Nightmare USA has so many quotes in which nearly everyone that brings up the producer and director has nothing at all nice to say.

Irv Berwick said, “Apparently he was quite brilliant as a child, a genuine prodigy who graduated college by nineteen. But a prodigy is not always the best person to have as a producer.”

His son Wayne added, “Dad and Bill Diego worked together on some fifteen films, and they always had the same line for each other, “Wouldn’t it be funny if this was the one?” And after they did Malibu High, they said, “Would you fucking believe it — this was the one — with that asshole!” Because they hated Larry Foldes. Everybody hated Larry Foldes! He was just a total egomaniacal spoilt rich kid who thought he was a producer.” He also claims that a soundman on Don’t Go Near the Park knocked Foldes out.

Also, check out this pull quote from the August 14, 1983 Los Angeles Times: “Ghostdirector Deran Serafian is used to cleaning up messes but he says he never saw a mess like the Young Warriors.

While you’re looking for books on Cannon, turn to the one we used through Cannon Month: Austin Trunick’s perfect The Cannon Film Guide Volume 1: 1980-1984.

You can also listen to The Cannon Canon episode that discusses this movie here.

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