Teen Movie Hell – Mike “McBeardo” McPadden

A book about teen sex comedies, in the year of our dark lord, 2019? I know what you’re probably thinking – this subject has the potential to offer up the hottest of takes about things society is finally (thankfully!) working on correcting – and you’d be right. The subject matter does have immense amounts of potential for that, and in the hands of another writer this would likely be a monument to hand-wringing over how everything is “too PC” these days but Teen Movie Hell manages to take the high road when it comes to discussing its subject. While it would be absurdly easy to simply write page filler review after page filler review that would essentially amount to “I like boobs. You like boobs too?” (we ALL like boobs so we don’t need to keep saying it) and ride the “anti PC” wave, McBeardo blows that lazy possibility out out of the water. Instead, Teen Movie Hell is packed with thoughtful essays on the ever changing landscape of film, how we consume media that in modern times is far from “woke” or enlightened and what we can learn from it. Certainly heady stuff for a book whose subject matter is greasy teen sex comedies right!

The book is divided into a handful of essays that introduce the reader to the genre and share some thoughts on things like how it was the only genre to handle topics like abortion and teenage sex without adding a heaping dose of shame to the proceedings, this style of films place in the era of #metoo and other similar topics that merit being addressed before you dive into a book dedicated to teen sleaze. Following the essays are the meat of the book and the reason you’ll keep coming back to it as a reference guide – reviews varying in length from short blurbs to page long mini-essays that dive deep into the history of the genre, providing unknown insight into one of the more forgotten genre of outsider cinema. The movies covered in the book run the gamut from the expected – Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Porkys – to the obscure – Gregory’s Girl, Joysticks – to the completely unexpected – Night of the Comet!

Teen Movie Hell isn’t, in this writer’s opinion, a movie that you sit down and read back to front. I mean, feel free to do your thing however you feel, but this feels more in line with a reference tome, something that you go back to again and again for movie watching inspiration, movie marathon planning, or when you just need a quick hit of semi-sleazy flicks to get you through the day. There are going to be some opinions in the book you might not agree with (go check out the words on mainstream fav Ferris Bueller’s Day Off for example) but you’d be hard pressed to say that they aren’t well reasoned and justified. McBeardo is more than forthcoming when it comes to explaining the whys of his opinion and who knows, by the time you’re done reading his arguments you might find yourself turning a bit towards his side; I know I have in some cases.Teen Movie Hell is well worth your time if you have even a small interest in this corner of cult cinema.

-Scott

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