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"Organized narcotics traffic is big business, and to get to the top, you've got to go to the bottom!" says sourpuss Lt. Lacey (a particularly dour, soon-to-be-dead PAUL KELLY) in this wonderfully lurid cross between a JD flick, Reefer Madness, and Dragnet from the pre-rock-'n'-roll be-bob bleakness of the 1950s, in which the search for a teenage junkie uncovers a small town festering with high-school hipsters eager to get Hooked.
17-year-old Ray Bowman is missing and coach REGIS TOOMEY thinks the kid may be on dope. Ray's aunt (CATHY DOWNS) pooh-poohs the idea — why Ray's just involved in nothing more than "boyish shenanigans"— but Bowman's "a confirmed heroin addict" alright, who finally shows up at a local juke joint looking for a fix. Ignoring the oddball band (which includes an especially berserk rubber-mouthed saxophone player who makes grotesque faces in closeup) and a lanky beatnik-like babe who warbles a simple but haunting tune ("Baby, baby, baby, have yourself a tiiiiiime...."), Bowman begs Jimmy, a 21-year-old hot shot pusher in suit and tie, for some H on credit. Bad move, for Bowman is found a short time later dead of a "hot shot" with Lacey providing his epitaph: "Whatever way you take it, dope is murder!"
Lacey quickly sends two undercover cops into the field — including MARILYN MADISON who works as a carhop — to zero in on Jimmy and his sexy, thrill-seeking underage girlfriend Julie Barnes (SHEILA URBAN) who wants to introduce super-square grade-A student Dick Williams to her "friends from the east side." Finally, after two particularly great montages — one of a sick, screaming teenage addict going through the hell of cold turkey behind cold prison bars; the other of "pain-crazed dope-starved addicts" selling whatever they can for quick cash — a sting is set up where another cop (ALEXANDER WELLS, who also directed and looks a bit like Robert Clarke) poses as a "joypopper" to get the goods on Jimmy. But in a film which tries so hard to shock with scenes of high schoolers committing crimes and desperately seeking drugs, the single most jaw-dropping moment occurs when "jailbait Julie"... suddenly turns good!
Originally released as Narcotics Squad, Something Weird used to offer a transfer from a 16mm print under the marvelously inappropriate rerelease title Curfew Breakers. But when we were able to make a new digital master from a beautiful 35mm theatrical-release print— under a second but more-to-the-point re-release moniker — we were so happy, we almost got high.
And remember, kids: "As long as one innocent person — man, woman, or child — is exposed to the horror of dope enslavement, a silent killer lurks in our midst, and the end of this story will remain yet to be written!" —Handsome Harry Archer
Alex WellsOther cast:
Regis Toomey, Cathy Downs, Sheila UrbanDirected by:
Alexander J. Wells