Director: James Hong
Code Red Releasing

Kristin Baker is THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, volunteering on prostitution detail for the police in two different cuts of the film included on Code Red’s DVD.

Summer has finally arrived and best friends Carol (Kristin Baker, FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2) and Neeley (Leslie Cederquist) have decided to join the “Explorers” program by volunteering with the local police force rather than camping with their boyfriends: Terry (Perry Lang, THE HEARSE) and Hotrod (Richard Singer, AMERICAN POP), respectively. It turns out that Carol has good reasons to explore career opportunities rather than wiling away the summer: her mother (LITTLE DARLINGS’ screenwriter Dalene Young billed as “Dolly Carolla”) is a drunk (who sets her bed on fire while smoking in it) who is sleeping with the plumber (CHEERLEADER CAMP’s George “Buck” Flower, billed as “Sherman Backus”) who wants her to marry the mentally-impaired next door neighbor with a trust fund Dustin (Michael Sloane, SCANNER COP II), and her boyfriend Terry can’t seem to resist the aggressive come-ons of slutty classmate DeDe (Lee Ann Barnes). Neeley just wants to have fun with her training officer Turner (Michael Heit, AMERICAN HOT WAX) since she likes to make Hotrod jealous; but Carol might actually be falling for her training officer Drury (DON’T GO NEAR THE PARK’s Robert Gribbin), and neither her boyfriend nor her “fiancé” Dustin (and her matchmaking mother) are happy about that.

As a teenage sex comedy, THE GIRL NEXT DOOR aka TEEN LUST is perhaps lacking: the story is seriously muddled, and the female protagonist – unusual in itself in a sex comedy – is dull compared to her more adventurous best friend (strangely, the mopey male main character with the wild friend usually works in this genre). That said, its grab bag of story ideas (the film’s other alternate titles include POLICE GIRLS ACADEMY, HIGH SCHOOL TEASERS and MOM NEVER TOLD ME) is certainly not without interest thanks to a skewed view of humanity that finds even the “confused” heroine not above hypocrisy. The cast is attractive and generally likable, but the heroine has no clear goal; and the usual goal of the sex comedy is to get laid (we don’t know if she’s a virgin, but her near rape – at the hands of grade school kids – and ensuing trauma seem more appropriate to another type of exploitation film). IMDb lists an uncredited performance by Jewel Shepard (who may be the performer who flashes the camera and whose erogenous zones are probed by the camera in the opening home movie footage).

At 86 minutes and 30 seconds, the version titled TEEN LUST seems to be missing bits of footage that might never have been shot, were lost by the lab, or were pre-cut from this version (after Carol’s near-rape, she asks Drury to take her to the training house which we never see – we do see Hotrod sneaking up on Turner and Neeley in the training house but only hear of Drury’s “behavior” with Carol there in later dialogue). The poster artwork for TEEN LUST bears a 1982 copyright (apparently the latest release, through Howard Willette’s Coast Films, who is listed as “technical advisor” on the poster), so one wonders if this longer version was reassembled for release after THE GIRLS NEXT DOOR (plural) and possibly Saturn International’s HIGH SCHOOL TEASERS version. At 77 minutes and 6 seconds, the director’s cut THE GIRL NEXT DOOR has tighter editing and feels more focused, but the construction still feels like it was pieced together from what was available despite having some bits of footage and dialogue that were not in TEEN LUST (although some of that may have been lost to damage).

The scoring is different – notably the addition of a couple songs (including the title song by Garry Hyde), and some scenes are shuffled or intercut (the scene of Carol regaling and scaring Terry with his war stories while he is visiting Carol in TEEN LUST is now intercut with Carol and Drury trying to get into the training house, and the shot of Carol coming in after Terry has dived out the window has been removed). A couple scenes have also been shortened – the scene with the flasher has had its middle cut out so we only see him being chased away by the police dog, and the second time Carol catches Terry with DeDe cuts off before he tries to apologize to her – while some have been removed entirely (Carol’s near-rape is completely missing so there’s no explanation as to why she comes home with her clothes torn up). THE GIRL NEXT DOOR features a post-production credit for hardcore/softcore cameraman Ray Icely (ALL THE DEVIL’S ANGELS) and a music credit for porn/exploitation composer Richard Hieronymous (the guy who gave us the theme song for Don Jones’ THE FOREST).

Hong appears on an amusing commentary track for the longer TEEN LUST version – presumably because the running time gives him more time in which to speak or the ability to comment on cut scenes – moderated by Code Red’s Bill Olsen and Marc Edward Heuck. An enthusiastic Hong introduces himself as “also known as Mr. Ping of KUNG-FU PANDA”, and jokingly refers to TEEN LUST as a “wonderful, classy film” when Heuck expresses his surprise that an actor with an august reputation would direct a film like this (although he had previously directed the erotic film HOT CONNECTIONS and would appear onscreen feeling up chained babes in his co-directed THE VINEYARD for New World in the 1980s). Hong was working as an actor and in distribution for Corman during the New World Pictures days (the film’s DP Larry Snodgrass worked as assistant cameraman on the New World production GRAND THEFT AUTO as well as BAD GEORGIA ROAD for Dimension Pictures whose office was in the building opposite Corman’s), and recalls shooting without permits including Berman’s topless scene in the park (Olsen points out that the different background in the subsequent shot of the car interior, which was shot in a more private location because of the length of the scene and the nudity). Heuck is around to point out the specific differences between the two cuts, but the release history is muddled even for them (Richard Ellman of Ellman Film Enterprises makes a cameo appearance, but Hong does not recall if he handled the film), as well as what would become stock characters in eighties sex comedies. Olsen mentions that the scene between Terry and Carol’s father is missing in the negative of THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, but it does not appear to have been reinserted from the TEEN LUST master since the scene in the director’s cut is timed differently. Hong also mentions that the lighting was tweaked in post-production, which goes some way in explaining the shifting brightness and contrast from shot to shot in some scenes (as well as short ends).

Code Red’s progressive, anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) transfer of TEEN LUST is riddled with scratches, splices, and missing frames; but it’s the general choppiness of the original editing that make this battered release print look like an unfinished workprint (presumably it was in better condition when the master for Lightning Video’s VHS release was struck). The progressive, anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) transfer of THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, on the other hand, is bright, clear, and colorful (making Terry’s and Hotrod’s drag disguises during the sleepover scene even less believable). The disc also includes a trailer for THE GIRLS NEXT DOOR version (1:44), as well as a release called THE GIRL NEXT DOOR (2:12) with an odd choice of narrator (possibly Sloane doing a variation of his “retarded” voice) who still uses the plural title (and very poor dialogue synchronization). Neither trailer mentions the film’s distributors under those titles. There is also a start-up trailer for FAMILY HONOR. (Eric Cotenas)