(William Fruet, 1982)
The classroom-debate framing device promises a movie about the moral justifications for murder, but in fact the teens angle seems like a market-driven afterthought. The film is really about machismo and morality, in full Southern Gothic mode. Remove the screamers altogether and there's still the complex 'family' dynamics of the mountain-shack community, the divided loyalties of the sheriff's department, and the philandering gas company man - an adult cast dealing with actual themes in a coherent (if frivolous) way, acted and directed with the kind of concentration you don't usually encounter at the drive-in. Check out the scenes between lead hick Henry Silva and jailbait Danone Camden - they don't waste a word or a frame in establishing this ambiguous, neurotic relationship, and there's comparable intelligence throughout. But while erasing the kids would have allowed us to get a little further into these peoples' lives, they are integrated well enough that they don't really hurt anything. In fact they bring some fun action with them - a mountaintop car chase, an antenna-impalement, and an unforgettable climax with Silva covered in boiling tar and waving his axe around, plus, you know, Ralph Benmergui with his leg in a bear trap.