Title: Brotherhood of Justice
Summary: The eponymous “Brotherhood of Justice” starts out as a well intention’d group of teenagers taking a stance against crime and drug use happening in their high school, but dissolves into much darker territory quite quickly.
Tagline: In this town if you deal or steal, you die… That’s a promise from the Brotherhood.
Note: This was a television movie that aired on May 18th, 1986. It’s 32 years old today. Also, you can find it uploaded to YT, if you wanna watch it.
In my continuing quest to be the world champion of Trivial Pursuit: Kiefer Sutherland Edition (Announcer Voice: “She was the only one playing.”) I figured we’d delve into yet another one of his films. This one isn’t as well known as others; granted, quite a few of his films are terrible and/or forgettable, so there were plenty to choose from.
But no. No, I chose Brotherhood of Justice.
Back when the internet was new™ and I was just beginning to use eBay to amass a collection of VHS tapes of his films, I stumbled into Brotherhood of Justice. Partly because in the lead role is none other than Keanu Reeves, another actor who basically ruled my pre-teen years via movies. (Wyld Stallyns forever!) Anyway, here is a film that has two of my favorite actors ever in it, was filmed in Santa Cruz, CA, and aunt Becky from Full House, too? SIGN ME UP!
Over the years, with both Reeves and Sutherland becoming much more higher profile in terms of careers, the packaging on this film has become absolutely bat shit bonkers. Brotherhood of Justice seems to be included on those “14 movies on one disc!” collections you find in the reduced sales bins at Kmart or Walmart. And it’s always marketed as a vigilante film — which it is — but then the packaging artist uses photos of them from, say, when they were in their mid-20s and it’s an outright lie. Or they use photos from The Matrix or thereabouts and 24 and I’m like literally standing in the aisle, pointing and screaming “LIES! ALL LIES!”
To explain, I must start from the beginning. The television film, which is what this is so don’t go expecting anything spectacular production-wise, is based on true events. In 1984, a group of young males formed “The Legion of Doom” at Paschal High School in Fort Worth, Texas. A group of privileged white boys from wealthy backgrounds decided to become their own justice system and, duh, went way overboard and really, this might as well be set in 2018, things haven’t fucking changed.
Anyway, you can read more about that here and here. As part of their sentences, the members of “The Legion of Doom” were not allowed to be involved with or sell rights to their story. Did that stop Hollywood from capitalizing on the story? Nope. I’m currently recapping a fictionalized version, so obviously not.
As I said before, when both actors’ careers took off, this one was dragged out of the vault and received weird packaging to capitalize (yet again) on people (like me) who liked their work. You can see it also (for a time) received a weird title change — High Voltage — which I cannot explain. I can’t find anything online to tell me why they titled it that, either.
BUT. I can tell you that the photos on the backside of the VHS box (photo on the right) come from Point Break, Flashback (at least I think so? It’s not Flatliners) and that bottom one of Keanu is from Permanent Record (which was filmed in the city of my birth and I promise it, too, will be recapped in the future.) So basically NONE OF THE PHOTOS ON THE BOX are images from the actual television film. LIES! ALL LIES!!!
Even the DVD artwork is all lies. It may be titled Brotherhood of Justice on my copy, but I’m pretty sure the photograph of Sutherland is from Flatliners and the one of Keanu could be River’s Edge, though I’m not certain. Still lies. Still has zero to do with the film.
Okay, moving forward, I should add that in addition to Lori Loughlin, Billy Zane (when he still had his own real hair) shows up, and also Gary Riley, who played Charlie Hogan in Stand By Me. (Another 50 billion points for me in Trivial Pursuit: Kiefer Sutherland Edition!) It was filmed in Apatos, CA, in Santa Cruz, too, and features scenes at the Boardwalk. It’s a much different feel, the Boardwalk scenes, compared to the ones in The Lost Boys.
Here, just watch the trailer:
Without further adieu, Brotherhood of Justice.
The scene opens on a dark night, a chain link fence with a large KEEP OUT sign. The grounds of Santa Lucia High School are empty but we hear the scuffle of sneakers as someone runs and jumps onto the fence, before climbing over it and dropping behind it. A second person joins the first and they take off running towards the school building.
In the hallways we see the two miscreants spray painting the row of metal lockers that line the walls, pulling papers from the bulletin board, breaking the windows of a trophy display case. It’s destruction and desecration for no purpose other than to destroy. The type of bullshit crap that I can’t get behind.
Even though they are kept in shadow to hide their identities, it’s obviously two teenage males creating the vandalism. Now they’re stabbing various sports balls, spray painting poorly over the banner announcing a pep rally. They move on to jimmy open a filing cabinet with a crowbar, tossing files around, before smashing a VCR and a TV. Dude. What the actual fuck. This is 1986! Those are expensive!
Their final act is to throw two rolls of toilet paper, which don’t really go anywhere, as they flee down the outside steps into the night.
The scene slowly fades into a shot of a pier stretching out into the Pacific, a lot of cars parked around small, two-story buildings right next to the beach. It must be the morning after, as traffic is steady and the brightness of the shot can’t just be the film blown out by age.
In a terrible font that’s a Times or typerwriter-style knock off “THE BROTHERHOOD OF JUSTICE” title card appears and the music has a Law & Order type bent to it. The camera focuses in on a tighter shot of the wharf — I would hazard this is the Santa Cruz wharf but don’t hurt me if I’m wrong — while the credits (still in this terrible font, it’s like I’m reading a faux police report) roll. We get flashed a shot of the famous Looff carousel and its building, then onto the beach where people are strolling and beach combing. Looks like there’s been a storm, all the debris on the sand.
We move into the residential section, what look like homes built with Victorian and Edwardian influence, before we move over to a long, low building with a shingled roof. DELMONICO’S, the sign reads, and there’s a lot of cars parked out front. A notable one is a 1950 Mercury Coupe (which I had to Google because otherwise I’d just say “THAT GIANT BLACK OLD CAR!”) which will become important down the road.
Delmonico’s is busy, so maybe I was wrong and it’s lunch time? Whatever. The credits impart that there’s a special appearance by actor Joe Spano as “Bob Grootemat” (I am Groot?) and from the IMDb, I can tell you he was in a lot of cop/crime shows. A lot. I kind of remember him from that time or two I was over at my parents and had to watch NCIS with them. Anyway.
The credits are still rolling as we move through what I’m guessing is Capitola and Apatos, where there’s someone feeding ducks and pedestrians crossing a concrete bridge over a small river. It’s a capsule collection of 1980s fashion, too. We see middle-schoolers with skateboards, a surfer under the pier, more surfers catching waves, people sitting along the concrete walkway that separates the sand from the blacktop road, enjoying a fine day in a virtual paradise.
A huge misconception about California beaches being what you see in movies is one of my favorite things to disabuse people of. Northern California is rocky coast line, warmer then most of the coast line of Oregon and Washington, but still colder then what you see in Southern California. It is the coast line I grew up on, the beaches I know and love, and if it weren’t for the palm trees, you could theoretically plunk Santa Cruz down in Oregon and no one would know different.
Oo, woman on the bench feeding the ducks has been joined by an affectionate tabby cat!
Two dudes on a motorcycle ride around a bend, waving at some people walking along the street. They pull into the driveway of a spacious home, we’re talking a “money lives here” type of house. One of the riders calls out a name and we move inside, to watch Keanu Reeves — hence forth DEREK — come to his bedroom window and look out. He taps on the windows as the passenger gets off the bike, chasing after the driver who rides away. Okay.
Derek’s bedroom is spacious as fuck, with posters of cars and fighter jets and other military stuff on the walls, a huge Macintosh computer setup (this is before they were known as Apple, natch) and everything in this house is white. White walls, white floors, white doors, ugh. Derek clearly comes from money. Even his damn sweater is white.
Stopping outside the bathroom door, Derek mentions he likes his younger brother rocking the “Huey Lewis” look. I dunno, I guess a sweater vest over a polo shirt is sort of that? I mean, Derek is in that damn white sweater with a fucking sport coat, so. (I know this was still an era where kids dressed up for school, but it boggles my mind. A sport coat??)
Oh my god, younger brother just popped the collar on the polo shirt. Yikes.
Out on the deck, Derek greets Maria, the family’s housekeeper, who’s cleaning up the breakfast dishes the boys’ parents left behind. Daddy left early and Mommy went to a breakfast meeting. (Wait, why are there so many dishes then??) Derek rattles off a bunch of club names, clearly his mother is very involved in charities and societies, but Maria isn’t sure which one it’s for.
Derek drinks his (likely fresh squeezed) oj and enjoys the view. Little brother appears, telling Derek that thirteen cars were ripped off at the Mission on Saturday night. Oh, no, he clarifies that it was just thirteen car stereos stolen (remember when that was a thing? No?) and Derek inquires as to what the cops might know. Little brother implies the police are blaming an “ethnic minority” when Maria appears and says, “What, Willie, white boys don’t steal?” OH SNAP YOU TELL HIM, MARIA!
Both boys have the decency to look ashamed. (I just realized Willie is Danny Nucci, aka Fabrizio in Titanic. Oh lord.)
We move to a parking lot, which I will just tell you is the school’s parking lot, and Derek is driving in in his red Mercury Capri ASC McLaren convertible (which, according to this website that tells me what it is, is very rare.) Students wave and call to him as he pulls around to park. We move over to see a police car parked in a spot closer to the building. Uh oh.
A ’67 Oldsmobile Cutlass convertible pulls into the lot, crammed full of students. Derek is getting out of his convertible, when we hear a loud whistle, coming from none other then aunt Becky herself. Derek turns around and blows a kiss in her direction; she smiles and heads into the crowd. The camera pans to a wide shot to show the campus, which is the actual campus of Apatos High School and I am like stupidly jealous of people who went there. I went to high school in a converted 1940’s elementary school building, which was cool on its own merits and also sucked, but the setting and layout of Apatos HS is fucking awesome. I’m sure it has its drawbacks but I’m hard pressed to find them.
Oh, wait, the giant outdoor wooden staircases. There’s a major drawback right there.
We move into the open air “hall”, crowded with students, and the lockers are still covered in spray paint. Christie reaches her, opening it, and we can see a Polaroid photo taped to the inside, revealing sure enough, she and Derek are a couple. Derek pops up behind her, and tells her he missed her last night, so maybe they can hang tonight? Nope, Christie has work. They agree to go out the following night. Christie asks why anyone would choose “these colors” (green and orange) for spray paint and Derek just laughs.
AND THAT’S WHEN VICTOR ROLLS UP IN HIS GREY T-SHIRT, JEAN JACKET, AND JEANS. (Oh my god, so young.)
“Hey, Victor!” Christie calls. Victor returns her greeting, then walks past, looking subdued by the presence of Derek.
“What is it with you and that guy?” Derek asks jealously. (me: “I CAN TELL YOU!”) Christie counters there’s nothing going on, that Victor is just quiet and a nice guy. Derek ain’t buying it. (me: “Jealousy is a bad look on you, Ted.”) The young lovers part with a kiss, Derek calling that he’ll see her at lunch.
Now there’s someone banging a gavel on a table. Student Council meeting! And Charlie Hogan! Wow. Dude didn’t age much between 1984 and 1986. I guess he’s student council president, as he instructs the secretary to read last meeting’s minutes. But no, some other dude yammers on about “the complete breakdown of law and order at this school!” Uh oh. Derek is in the group and nods, while others voice their agreement.
Everyone starts talking about the graffiti and how lockers were broken into, forcing Barnwell (??) to remind everyone they’re still bound by parliamentary procedure. Harsh, man. Dude wants to go on record, saying there will never be a return to law and order until spray paint is abolished from earth.
…wow, pretentious much?
Everyone laughs, of course, then Derek chimes in that everyone’s getting ripped off and soon they’re going to have to carry their lunches around in safety deposit boxes. (???) Barnwell asks if Derek, as the “distinguished senior class rep”, wants to make a motion but Derek declines, and he and this dude with a huge curly mullet high five over being pissed off.
Yes, the dialogue and banter in this sucks.
Back to the cop car. It’s still parked outside, and the sheriff is in the principal’s office, complaining that his department has been called to the school multiple times in the last month. (me: “…it’s your job?”) The principal is taking it real serious, throwing a Nerf ball into a mini basketball hoop. It’s not just vandalism; there’s fights and thefts and WHO IS RUNNING THIS ZOO??
Whoa, 40 times for incidents involving drugs? “Are you clocking the mileage?” principal Bob Grootemat (I am Groot?) counters and the sheriff counters that in the three years under Grootemat’s (I am Groot.) stewardship, the high school has gone to hell in a hand basket and even though the damage totals aren’t in from the previous night’s little party, it’s time for a change. THINK OF THE CHILDREN!
“This place was like a country club when it started.” (me: “No, that would be Pogonip.”) The sheriff adds that tax payers are tired of having to pay for all the clean up. Then principal Grooteman (I am Groot!) complains: “I’m an educator, I can’t let this school be turned into an armed camp.” Um?
Oh, well, okay, that makes sense when the sheriff reveals he wants to insert a few undercover officers into the campus population (21 Jump Street??) but principal Grooteman (I am Groot!) wants to do it his way. The sheriff counters that if things stay the same and worsen, soon they’ll be doing things his way. Oo, ominous!
Moving on, we’re at a gas station, an old one, with really old analog pumps. Christie is washing down a windshield. Guess we found out her after-school job! The older man behind the wheel wants to know what a pretty girl is doing working a crappy job shilling gas. DUDE!
Christie counters that she’s “suckering guys like [him] into paying fifteen cents more at a full service pump.” as she hands him back his receipt. OH SNAP, IT BURNS, BABY. The older dude takes his comeuppance, just as Derek pulls into the empty side, followed by Les (Billy Zane) and the rest of the gang in the Olds. Now there’s a dude on a Harley and a giant van blocking the pumps, Derek telling Christie how they’re commandeering everything so she can take a break.
The gang exits the Olds and sees a cop car parked just to the side of the lot, the officer using the payphone. In the back, two Mexicans are being held. Mule (??) yells at them in a mix of Spanglish then asks what they did. The officer tells him to knock it off. What the fuck, now everyone is crowded around and leaning on the cop car!? The cop actually informs the teenagers the men didn’t do shit but Les insists they’re the culprits in the stolen stereo systems.
Mule leans in and yells about how if he catches them doing something he’s going to “rent a helicopter” and drop them from it, “like a sack of sewage”. The cop is like WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU, leave the Chicanos alone! Eventually the boys back off but you know this is just the start of blatant racism.
Meanwhile, Derek is busy chatting up Christie, ignoring his friends, trying to pressure Christie into a date. She tells him she wants to clean up and eat dinner, so of course that means they’ll have to go to Delmonico’s again. They agree on 8:32pm, parting with more kisses, while the gang razzes them.
Derek yells something about Christie being the “light of his life” and I can’t help but wonder if these weren’t ad-libbed, because Lori’s reaction is almost too genuine to be just her character’s reaction.
Ah, on to Delmonico’s (I wish I knew if this was a real restaurant or what’s in that building today, if it’s still around) and a waitress brings a pizza to Derek and Christie’s small table. The waitress even says something about seeing Christie Saturday, which surprises Derek. Christie informs him she’s taken a job waitressing at Delmonico’s, because the three afternoons at the gas station don’t bring in enough cash. Derek ain’t happy. He feels it’s too much time apart. “Well my father doesn’t own a car dealership, Derek.” Christie retorts (that explains the Mercury Capri ASC McLaren) and adds that not everyone lives in a five-bedroom house on Bluff Side Drive! (me: “I wish!”)
Derek complains again they won’t have time together, Christie promises she’ll make time for them, and VICTOR SLINKS UP YET AGAIN, this time managing a shy “Hi.” Oh lord, save us all. He smiles brightly at Christie but realizes Derek is not happy about his presence, so immediately apologizes. (He literally pronounces “sorry” the same way he says it in The Lost Boys. I die.)
“So when’s he been working here??” Derek demands to know, and when Christie says maybe a couple of weeks, Derek implies Victor is the reason she’s switching jobs. DUDE, CHILL WITH THE JEALOUSY. Christie is all “MONEY, DEREK! Some of us need it, some of us don’t.” You tell him, girl! Derek backs off, clinking a piece of pizza to hers, toasting “well, let’s get fat” as they dig into their pie. Charming.
Back at ol’ Santa Lucia HS, we drop into the parking lot and overhear a DRUG DEAL. Someone’s complaining that a “dime bag” is “$20” (me: “Weed is legal now in California.”) and this really tall, skinny dude is apparently the drug dealer. Okay. He’s pocketing their cash then drawing bags of “pot” out of his leather jacket. Now some kid asks for… wait, what? I can’t make it out? The drug dealer (lollz) takes some kind of vial out of his pocket. Maybe it’s pills? I CAN’T TELL.
Inside, principal Grootemat (I am Groot.) comes out from behind the curtain, calling the assembly to order by tapping on the mic. I guess it’s not a school-wide assembly; he tells them their the among the “best and brightest” in the state, so it’s okay for them to miss a class. (??) Sure enough, Derek, Christie, and most of their “gang” are in attendance, while principal Grootemat (I am Groot!) goes over the latest “incident” at the school and how it’s an insult to the student body. (Look. I attended an “alternative” art high school. We would have taken care of anybody who did shit to our school. Of course, that was in the late 1990s; time’s have changed.)
Principal Grootemat (I am Groot?) rambles on, appealing to the students’ good (??) judgement and asking if they just want to roll over and let the school be taken over? Or do they want to cut into the sport’s budget and hire security guards? (We all know it would be arts and music to lose funding first, asshole.) Of course the students are opposed to locks and undercover cops on campus. Duh.
Of course Mule shouts out that he and the rest can take care of “them” (??) and principal Grootemat (I am Groot.) appeals to the vanity of the senior class, since they set the styles and trends, pace and examples, to become shepherds and police themselves. Uh huh. Yeah, this will end well.
“Let your example be your gift!” (me: “Teenagers suck. This will go poorly.”) Principal Grootemat (I am Groot?) gets a standing ovation, started by Barnwell and taken up by the rest of the assembled students. Which bleeds us into the following scene, where one of the “gang” is speaking to the rest, who are gathered around a lunch table. He asks them to come to the aide of the principle, school, and community and then proceeds to get hyper patriotic, reciting the lyrics to “America, the Beautiful”. Curly mullet dude is all, whoa whoa, that didn’t happen. But no, blond jock dude insists that Principal Grootemat (I am Groot!) just not so secretly asked them to create a JUNIOR POLICE FORCE.
Les is quite stunned by this revelation, while Barnwell agrees that it was implied. Sure. “The man wants baby pigs,” idiot jock rambles on. The secretary from student council, the only woman at the table besides Christie, wants to know how they’re supposed to accomplish this. Lectures? Nope, Mule wants a group that gets together and “kicks tail”. Ugh.
Derek says it’s more about being hall monitors and keeping the cops out of the school. Christie disagrees, saying they’re not the police and it’s not their responsibility. Mule wants his CHAIN OF COMMAND, TO ESTABLISH A WAR CHEST, TO ASSASSINATE ALLEGED ENEMIES! (me: “My god, I wish you died in this.”) Mule wants to rule the school. Curly Mullet is all nah, we could rule the town!
Everyone seems to laugh at this notion but Les, who looks contemplative while crunching a celery stick.
Somehow, time progresses and we’re suddenly on the famous local landmark, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Mule, Derek, and Curly Mullet climb some metal fencing and now they’re hanging out under the Giant Dipper like it’s no big deal. I guess the Boardwalk isn’t open, because the rollercoaster isn’t active and there’s mention of it being a season that is not summer. Hm.
Mule wants to have fun, doing “what the Groot asked us to do!” Derek challenges, saying he thinks “Groot” just wants everything to go away like a bad dream. “Yeah, that’s the Groot alright.” Curly Mullet agrees. (me: “My brain hurts. I AM GROOT!!”)
Apparently Mule views Rambo as an inspiration. (me: “WTF, Rambo worship is rampant among these locals??) He decides they need to take on the “dealer” Jerry, though
Curly Mullet Scott didn’t know that. Jerry is a “dust head” and deals to kids. He’s just the worst, don’t you know. Mule knows Jerry is throwing a party Saturday night, so why not pay him a “visit”. Have a men’s night out. Derek demurs, since he has a date with Christie, but Mule presses. (me: “How the hell are you standing on the Giant Dipper track and NO ONE IS CALLING THE COPS??”)
It’s night and Derek is mooning around Christie while she finishes her shift at the gas station. She’s in the office, studying Calculus but Derek (in his ridiculous shirt complete with fancy sweater about his shoulders) slams the book shut and pitches a hissy fit about Christie not paying him enough attention. She reminds him she has a test, and college scholarships are important, so fun has to wait.
At least someone in this damn television movie is setting a good example.
But now we’re at Delmonico’s, where Christie is starting her first shift. Her coworker is giving her a list of tables and some pro tips on how to handle everything as they walk out onto the floor. But she can’t even make it out of the kitchen before she (literally) bumps into Victor! There’s an awkward exchange between them, of course, and Victor gives her a bit of a pep talk. They also discover he’s busing her tables, so he’ll be there to help out. Christie thanks him and sallies forth, while Victor watches from the kitchen, clearly crushing on her. It’s sad, man. Endearing? Sure. But so sad.
(me: “That’s it! Before he was a vampire, David was a lowly busboy at Delmonico’s. Max must have come in for lasagna but left behind a bottle of wine!”)
I guess we did jump time, because now we’re at a party. Jerry, the dust head, is wearing a horrendous but typical 8os suit jacket that is comprised of vertical stripes in shades and hues of pink. He’s holding court pool-side while those around him smoke illegal substances. There’s tiki torches, Mylar balloons, and a table of finger foods. Fun.
Out in the bushes, the gang (clad in various masks and dark trench coats) are lighting a string of fireworks. Tossing them into the sporadically assembled partiers, they explode, causing panic and screams. Meanwhile, during the distraction, the gang jumps a low wall and rushes into the party.
The members wearing Nixon and Ford masks (they were presidents, for you super young folk) punch some dude in the stomach before overturning the table of party food. Next they push a line of partiers (who are just standing there) into the pool. I guess they’re armed with cans of whipped cream, because one of them is spraying it into the air. For being amateurs, there’s a HELL OF A LOT OF EXPLOSIONS. People are still screaming and unsure of what’s happening. Mule, because it’s obviously Mule, comes out of the background and yells at Jerry, grabbing him by the shoulder and leaving a giant red hand print on that fabulous suit jacket. (me: “Um, no. Not possible. Not that neatly, no.”) THE DRUG DEALER HAS BEEN MARKED, YO! The gang runs away, spraying whipped cream as they flee, while people begin to stare and point at Jerry.
Somehow there’s a PA system, over which a voice announces “Deal dust and die, suckers! The Brotherhood of Justice is watching you!” Well, now everybody is just confused. That was dumb and too chaotic to really impact anything but remember, bat, it’s a goddamn TV movie.
Over at Delmonico’s, Christie is waiting outside. DEREK IS LATE. But who should casually strut out of the door behind her? Do I have to tell you? Christie tries to tell Victor Derek is just late, but Victor’s like “I CAN GIVE YOU RIDE PRETTY LADY.” (me: “Is… is he wearing cowboy boots? OH MY GOD.”) Christie says it’s okay, she can wait, so Victor strolls away. (me: “NOOOOOOOOOO.”) Christie seems to regret turning down her knight in denim armor, walking out farther into the parking lot but Derek is still MIA.
Fortunately, Victor pulls up behind her in that 1950 Mercury Coupe of his, and repeats his offer of a ride, since you know, it’s getting cold out. Christie immediately takes him up on it, climbing inside. (me: “Oh my god, it’s like Stand By Me just collided with The Lost Boys! This is where they merge and meld together?? No, of course it is, of course it would be something this terrible.”)
Somewhere not in Delmonico’s parking lot, the Brotherhood are cheering and congratulating themselves on a job well done. (??) They’re drunk on power and adrenaline, speaking of who they got and what they did. Sure. Les tells them it’s only the beginning and Derek wants to know where Les got the Brotherhood of Justice moniker. Les claims “divine inspiration”. They all put their fists into a circle and pledge allegiance, as the screen fades to black.
Oh this won’t end poorly, nope.
It’s morning, we’re back over at Derek’s fancy-schmancy residence, a giant dog is wandering around in the front yard. Derek heads downstairs and along the hall to Willie’s room, finding him laying quite listlessly on the bed, clad only in white jeans. Giving Willie the third degree, Derek can’t understand what’s going on with his younger brother. He informs Willie to basically get his shit together, they’re leaving for school in five. Willie agrees, but we see his eyes rolling around in their sockets. Hm.
(Do I have to point it out? Really?)
Victor pulls his 1950 Mercury Coupe to a four-way stop, Derek cruising to a stop on his right. Uh oh. Eye contact and nods shared, Victor drives straight and Derek turns to the right. Phew. Live to fight another day. Suddenly we slam into a Physics class, the teacher talking about gravity. Mule turns around and hands Derek a note, which unfortunately I cannot read, the picture is so blown out. But what I can tell is the Brotherhood of Justice’s success at crashing the drug dealer’s party was fun, so they want to do it again. Okay. I mean, we wouldn’t have a movie if they didn’t.
Derek wants to go to Harvard in the fall. He doesn’t seem to be too interested in a repeat performance. Goddamn it, SMASH CUT, you are the bane of my existence. Now we’re in the weight room, the majority of the Brotherhood of Justice are pretending to exercise and get in reps while Barnwell sits on an Exercycle and goes over their list of targets. Yeah, that’s not suspicious, not suspicious what so ever!
Oh wait, they’re creating the list of targets. My bad. Still, not suspicious. Anyway, they decide every member picks two targets, who ever is “stealing and dealing”, “perverts and deviants”, “short people”, “guys with earrings”. Derek decides that Barnwell will be their intelligence agent. Uh huh. Mule wants to handle assassinations (??) but
Curly Mullet Scott wants to come up with a SUPER SECRET HANDSHAKE, GUYS!! The Brotherhood of Justice needs a battle cry, a theme song! Everyone laughs.
Barnwell says they need a place to meet (I think that’s called headquarters, you dumb ass) and Les volunteers his uncle’s carousel. Excuse me? You’re suddenly related to the people who own/operate the Boardwalk, Les?? Suuuuuuuuure. He offers it because it’s closed in the winter. I DUNNO, I MAY NEVER HAVE BEEN THERE IN PERSON BUT I KNOW THAT BUILDING HAS WINDOWS AND IT’S RIGHT ON A FUCKING MAIN STREET.
Derek gets serious and tells them the Brotherhood of Justice has to be a secret and no one talks about the Brotherhood of Justice and what they do, no revealing who’s in it and NO BRAGGING. (Well, Mule’s gonna fail at that, just watch.) FIRST RULE OF BROTHERHOOD OF JUSTICE IS BROTHERHOOD AND SILENCE.
This will end well.
Back out in the open air hallways, the lockers have been scrubbed clean and students are milling about. Derek walks along before he comes to Christie at her locker, giving her a bullshit excuse that he was kidnapped by aliens. She doesn’t buy it, so he tries an apology, which gets better results.
Christie IMMEDIATELY (because she’s vastly more intelligent) asks Derek if he and the guys were there during whatever happened at Jerry the Dealer’s house. He’s all NO WAY but I heard about it! He adds that he did stop by Delmonico’s to pick her up but she was already gone. I WONDER WHY.
Derek of course asks how she got home, so at first she says she called her mother but then Christie admits that a friend from work gave her a ride home. “Victor?” Derek asks, just as Mule appears in the hallway, grabbing Derek’s shoulder, and bellowing “DOOM DO-DO-DOOM!” That’s subtle, you fucking asshole.
Christie swiftly changes the subject, informing Derek she thinks guys in masks throwing firecrackers and pushing people into a pool is “dumb” (AMEN) and Derek’s all “maybe they were trying to get a message across!” Christie’s reply: “what, like little kids?” HAHAHAHAHA She literally calls the Brotherhood of Justice “trick or treaters”! I love you, aunt Becky!
Out on the football field, the cheerleaders practice in front of the goal post while half the players huddle. Derek’s calling the play. He tells
Curly Mullet Scotty to go all the way, to which that dumb asshole jock dude cracks, “Scotty’s never been all the way.” Ugh.
They break and set up for the play. Derek throws the ball and of course, the whole football team plows into where the cheerleaders are practicing. The girls squeal in protest and giggle but whatever. The coach isn’t laughing and demands they run two laps on the double.
After practice, Derek arrives home to find Maria vacuuming the living room. He’s headed towards his room but stops in the hall, something drawing his attention. He knocks on the bathroom door, opening it and asking why Willie is taking a shower at 3pm. “Because I feel like it!”
I dunno why we need to be treated to Willie butt naked in the shower stall (I mean, the camera keeps the frame raised so there’s literally no bare ass, this is a TV movie and all) but there you go. Derek closes the door but is still suspicious. He goes into Willie’s room, finds the kid’s wallet on the bed, and picks it up. It isn’t hard to find the baggie of white powder inside.
DEREK IS PISSED, YO.
The camera follows him into the bathroom, where Derek grabs his naked brother from the shower, wrapping his arm around the kid’s neck and dragging him out and down the hall, pushing him to sit on the bed before throwing him… clothing? A towel? Something. Jeans? Looks like a pair of jeans.
“I’m going to ask you once and if you don’t tell me the truth, I’m gonna beat the crap out of you!” Derek yells, showing Willie the baggie of powder. Willie, whimpering and cowering and sniveling, says he got it from a guy at school, but won’t tell Derek who. Finally under the pressure of threats, Willie says the name Carlton. Derek immediately recognizes the name.
Derek goes on to tell Willie if he uses again, or if Derek even hears about him still being involved with drugs, they’re “finished”. Willie apologizes and collapses sobbing into Derek’s arms. (me: “Where the fuck are your parents?”)
Curly Mullet Scott and Mule are working on a car, Curly Mullet Scott saying all the things that aren’t wrong with it (dude, really?) and Mule’s bitching about Curly Mullet Scott copping an attitude, when Derek rolls up. He immediately names Carlton Links, saying he “wants” him. Although he was already on “the list”, he just jumped to PUBLIC ENEMY NUMERO UNO.
Annnnnd fade to black. Man, I wish someone had thought to keep the commercials in these commercial breaks. That would have been fun to see what company bough advertising during this.
Fade in to a shot of the Coconut Grove, part of the Boardwalk complex. (Pretty sure it’s been upgraded since this was filmed.) Derek leads Les and Mule through the arcade, all three dressed in wool trench coats. (That’s not suspicious, not suspicious at all.) They stop and scope their target, Carlton, sitting on the air hockey table, surrounded by three other dudes, one in a wheelchair.
Wheelchair dude looks like a long lost member of the Lost Boys, with the giant lock of fake white hair stuck in his curls. I kid you not. Oh, he’s missing an arm, how didn’t I see that? I guess this is the casting department’s attempt at “diversity”.
Anyway, the four take off, closely followed by Derek & co. Both groups wend their ways among games and pinball machines, through milling extras. Eventually Carlton leads his group to the mens room, where I’m sure a drug deal is about to go down. Derek, Les, and Mule chill outside the door for a minute or two, failing to look like casual observers.
In the bathroom, Carlton is handing out baggies to the other three. They leave, Carlton pocketing the cash before combing his hair back. Slick. Outside, Derek & co let the buyers pass on without word. Hm. As soon as the coast is clear, they barge into the bathroom, catching Carlton by surprise, and immediately start punching him in the gut. Now Derek and Les are slamming him into a giant plastic garbage can. Mule is busy writing a message on the bathroom mirror while Les starts to really go to town on Carlton, slamming him into a stall before pulling him out and shoving him to the floor, kicking him.
Derek stands there, looking torn between being outrage that this dude sold drugs to his little brother and wondering if Les is over doing it. Mules finishes his Sharpie-penned messages: DEALERS BEWARE- The Brotherhood of Justice. He even underlines justice. Ugh.
Les has kicked the ever living shit out of Carlton by the time Derek comes to and stops him. Les bolts out the door, followed casually by Derek, Mule hitting the button on the hand drier to cover Carlton’s moans. Nice touch, asshole.
Over at the police station, an officer is recounting to the sheriff the damages done to Carlton. “One of them even managed to nick a lung!” The sheriff just wants to know if Carlton was rolled, but nope, all $400 in his pocket was untouched and there were enough drugs on him to start his own pharmacy. The sheriff is more interested in who this Brotherhood of Justice are, but the officer knows bupkiss and even suggests that they let it continue without interruption. The sheriff is like, just go fucking do your job and investigate.
Now at the high school, someone has hijacked the PA system and is reciting a terrible parody of The Police’s Every Breath You Take, and the kids are laughing because this is hysterical! Some actually look worried and nervous. But the not-so-thinly veiled threat, plus the fact that whoever is doing the talking actually says “FROM THE BROTHERHOOD OF JUSTICE” at the end, well, c’mon.
Principal Grootemat (I am Groot?) storms (well, casually storms?) into the front office and learns that it’s a taped recording. He chews out the woman trying to stop it, who just fiddles with the levels and looks upset, before heading into his office. He pauses and listens to the message, and I’m pretty sure he’s not too upset about the threats being made. This was before the “Zero Tolerance Policy” existed.
Derek, Mule, and Asshole Jock are discussing how Barnwell is responsible for the PA hijack, because he’s an “electronics genius”. Pretty sure if you’re talking THAT LOUDLY about someone doing something unauthorized, people are going to hear you, you dumb asses. Asshole Jock even mentions that Barnwell wants to get into bugging houses. Ugh.
Mule and Asshole Jock split off, reminding Derek they’re meeting at 5pm. Derek finds a note on his windscreen, from Christie, saying she can’t meet him and to call her. He looks mad about it, even crumples up the note and tosses it, before driving off.
Along his route, who should he happen to see? None other than Victor, leaning casually on the side of his beloved 1950 Mercury Coupe, chatting up Christie while she’s on duty at the gas station! OH NOES!! Derek stares and looks angry, but just speeds up and drives on past.
Fade in to a bunch of cars parked outside the Looff carousel building. I’m sorry, what the actual fuck, why are they parked INSIDE ON THE BOARDWALK? I mean, I see it’s blacktop but WHAT THE HELL. YOU ARE OBVIOUS TO ALL WHO PASS BY, MORONS.
Inside, among the horses, Barnwell passes out photos of the eleven agreed upon targets. First targets are dealers, then thieves, then “homos!” Mule shouts. Only
Curly Mullet Scott admonishes him for his raging homophobia but even then it’s not in a serious way. Ugh.
Les calls out a name, Perry, saying the offender targets little kids with shakedown techniques. Derek counters that he knows him, played ball with him for two years. Mule says Perry hasn’t payed for his own lunch since ninth grade. Mule and
Curly Mullet Scott want to go after Benny, who is an alleged car parts thief.
Derek steps up and demands that whomever they target, they better know for certain they’re doing crime or whatever bad stuff they’ve been accused of. Mule,
Curly Mullet Scott, Barnwell, and Asshole Jock think this whole thing is a gas, a lark, but Les is quiet and studying the photographs, and you just know he’s the goddamn loose cannon in this scheme.
Barnwell confirms that Billy Tremaine is their next target, the “scum”. Les is super into it. Great.
Curly Mullet Scott initiates another round of BUTTON BUTTON WHO’S GOT THE BUTTON before we move over to Santa Lucia’s campus once more. Victor’s rolling in, parking his 1950 Mercury Coupe (me: “Oh my god, those are black cowboy boots.”) and getting out before Derek calls to him.
Victor is polite but Derek crosses his arms before he compliments the 1950 Mercury Coupe. He inquires of Victor about Christie. Uh oh. Victor leans on the bumper, his expression becoming guarded. (me: *eats popcorn, sits on edge of seat, waits for it*) He asks if Derek means at school or at work. Derek replies “whatever.” Victor informs Derek that she’s fine, she only worked a couple of shifts at Delmonico’s, she’s still adjusting.
“Do you like her?” Derek inquires. “I like any girl who can whistle with her fingers,” Victor answers. (me: “WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN??”) Derek pointedly reminds Victor that he and Christie have been going steady for nearly two years. Victor’s like duh, I’m going inside now. Derek follows up with a take care, and “take care of that car, too!”
THERE ARE NO ARROWS BIG AND FLASHY ENOUGH FOR ME TO USE TO POINT AT THAT THREAT RIGHT THERE.
Time is apparently very fluid in this film, because now it feels like it’s the end of the school day and kids are wandering into the parking lot to find a car that has been parted out. Well, the parts are still there but it ain’t going anywhere. Looks like the Brotherhood of Justice has struck again!
Benny Kittridge, aka the parts thief, has been taught a lesson, I guess. The giant hand-lettered sign says stuff about the next time he steals, they’ll take him apart, and of course it’s signed by the Brotherhood of Justice. Ugh. The spray pained red hand print is now their official calling card. Imagine if that happened today. Kids would be Snapchat-ing the fuck of out of, Instagram’ing, tweeting, posting on Facebook my god. What a simpler time 1986 was. (I miss it.)
Over on the football field, we’re back in a huddle, readying a play. It’s hard to tell who is who with the damn helmets, but one points out “he’s on the list!” and the other replies “Perry?” so you know what’s coming next. One of them wants to clear it with Derek first but the other presses, just as the quarterback calls out the numbers for the play. (I do not know sportsball.) Sure enough, when Perry rushes up, the two (I think one is Mule, the other might be Asshole Jock) flip him over their shoulders and he falls hard to the field, on his fucking head. Ouch.
The coach checks him out, helping him roll on his back, while Derek watches. Uh oh. The coach starts asking what the hell, why are we hurting our own team players and you see Les bonk helmets with someone else (I guess it was Les?) and call Perry a punk, and Derek watches this and looks upset. I WONDER WHY.
We move to the… I guess it’s the commons? I dunno. Anyway, two male students are talking. Off in the distance we see Christie coming down the staircase with Derek. Barnwell gets up from a bench and starts walking hurriedly in one direction, we see Les circling around, looking suspicious in his trench coat, hands in the pockets. Suddenly he pulls out a blade and flips it open. Christie and Derek can see them coming towards the dude in the salmon pink polo shirt. The tense music tells us SOMETHING BAD COMING.
Asshole Jock appears just as Barnwell pushes between the two boys, Asshole Jock pushes past Salmon Shirt from behind, and Les starts stalking closer and closer, switch blade at the ready. He passes behind Salmon Shirt and we can’t see what happens but Salmon Shirt lifts a hand and finds it covered in bright red fake blood then starts screaming that he’s been stabbed!
Salmon Shirt is helped by two students while Christie looks on in disbelief. Derek just looks around, his expression one of anger. The camera pans around and shows a BIG RED HAND PRINT on the back of Salmon Shirt’s shirt. I guess Asshole Jock did that? Anyway, he’s down on the ground, screaming for help, as Mule and
Curly Mullet Scott walk up and wave at Derek. Christie is IMMEDIATELY SUSPICIOUS and leaves Derek, who stands there looking confused about what to do and probably wondering if Christie has figured out he’s fucking involved. The screen fades to black…
How the fuck are they lounging around on the carousel horses and NO ONE CARES?? UGH. I mean the goddamn windows are RIGHT THERE, everyone passing by can see them!! I’m sorry, I cannot suspend belief here. I know too much.
So, the Brotherhood of Justice is lounging on the carousel horses. Derek comes in but it’s like he’s in a semi hurry to yell at them, which is weird. He tells them they either do it “the right way” (??) or they end everything. Barnwell counters that there were six votes to confirm Tremaine as a target. So Salmon Shirt was Tremaine, the dude who shakes down others for lunch money, got it.
Derek counters that he was okay with “roughing” the dude up but not “knifing” him! (You mean stab, right?) Les asks if Derek just wanted them to pants Tremaine. The others chuckle and Mule insists Tremaine got what he deserved. If I’m understanding what Asshole Jock is inferring, they apparently stabbed Tremaine in the ass, so he’ll think about it for the next three weeks.
I guess that’s better then in the kidney or something, where they might come up on attempted murder charges. Ugh.
Derek tells them Perry still doesn’t understand or know why they attacked him at football practice. Mule jokes he should have whispered in Perry’s ear. “This is no joke, Mule!” Derek yells. He tries to make the other understand that when they’re targeting someone, it’s as the Brotherhood of Justice, not all this willy nilly bullshit that has happened in the last two scenes. He wants calling cards left so everyone knows who and why and learns from it. Um, okay, Derek.
I guess because he feels he’s the de facto leader of this little war party, Derek tells them if they don’t like his rules, he’s making another rule to tell him and he’ll quit. (??) No more weapons from this point on. Someone better relieve Les of that blade he’s toying with, then. Roughing people up, scaring someone, having fun, that’s all okay! (??) Everyone but Asshole Jock and Barnwell verbally agrees to Derek’s line in the sand.
And then Derek immediately asks who the next target it. Sigh.
“Pastey” Crasnic? That’s the dude’s nickname? Okay. He’s a geek who does slide shows and is probably involved with the A/V club, from the sounds of it. He also works at Delmonico’s. Nice. Why is he a target? BECAUSE HE TATTLED ON MULE AND MULE GOT A BAD GRADE. Barnwell adds Pastey rats on everyone. Mule adds that Pastey pulls more dates then most dudes and he’s “ugly, too”.
Are you fucking kidding me?
Nope, they’re not.
We SMASH CUT to Victor working his shift at Delmonico’s. Oh boy, he has to clear the Brotherhood of Justice’s table. Derek immediately greets him, poor Victor is just doing his job. Derek wants to know when Christie is due, but Victor sasses back (YAY!!) that Derek should know, she’s his girl. Les looks unamused, smoking a cigarette (geez, remember when people could smoke anywhere they wanted? Oh, right, most of you are too young to remember that) and Derek yammers on, asking how the wages are. Victor can’t complain, but now Mule is giving him the evil eye and ugh. Derek adds something about being careful not to drop anything (??) but for my pain I get the curled lip snarl I love so dearly.
ASSHOLE JOCK IS SO UPSET THAT DEREK DIDN’T DO SOMETHING TO VICTOR! SO UPSET, GUYS! Mule chimes in that all Derek had to do was give him a sign and he would have done something! (??) They start to question Derek’s commitment but Les points out that “Pastey” is on the floor.
Oh my god, this kid is a goth!!
The Brotherhood of Justice discuss him, noting he no longer has a car because he’s a “geek, a snitch, and a lush” according to Barnwell and Les. Derek is pumped, still hot blooded over his tête-à-tête with mon amor Victor, so he declares they’re going to get Pastey NOW. Mule high fives him and the screen fades into the dumpster behind Delmonico’s.
Pastey is bringing out bags of trash when the Brotherhood of Justice descend upon him, clad in ski masks and trench coats. Well, okay, they’re at least consistent? Pastey, instead of being scared by all these masked dudes, literally asks them what they want. Um.
Les tells them they want him, that he’s a sinner and needs to repent. “Leave me alone!” Pastey answers. MEANWHILE, OVER THERE SOMEWHERE, VICTOR IS COMING UPON THE SCENE! Just as Mule tells Pastey to get on his knees, Victor (stupidly) steps out and tries to diffuse the situation. He asks Eddie if he’s having a this problem with these guys, and Pastey is all WHO THE FUCK ARE THEY. Victor tells Pastey to get behind him, but that just upsets Mule, who taunts him by calling him a hero and tells him he’s going to get hurt.
“The suspense is already killing me,” Victor quips. (Oh, my heart. He does so well with terrible dialogue.) Mule steps forward but Derek holds him back. Eventually the stalemate breaks up, the members of the Brotherhood of Justice start walking away. But no, not Mule, who fucking tells Victor they “have a list” and although Victor isn’t on it, yet, he better watch his back.
OKAY HERE’S A GIANT PLOT HOLE: Victor knows all of them were in Delmonico’s that night. They all sat together at one tiny table. Yet here in the alley is the same number of dudes. CAN HE DO THE MATH? Probably. Will he? I dunno, there’s still another 41 fucking minutes of this bullshit to go.
Mule threatens Pastey one last time before he and Les stalk away and we SMASH CUT (ugh) to Victor walking with Christie down the trolley tracks near the Boardwalk. (Which amuses me because that’s how/where Sutherland broke his wrist during filming of The Lost Boys, but I digress.)
OH MY GOD HE DID THE MATH!!! YAY!! Christie is in disbelief, but Victor assures her that it was the quarterback and a couple of guys from the football team. She’s so confused as to why Derek would involve himself in this childish bullshit. Victor agrees he doesn’t know Derek well enough to speculate, but half the school thinks the Brotherhood of Justice is just the bee’s knees.
Victor adds that people change, then explains his parents were married for ten years before they broke up and now they hate each other. Christie apparently cannot understand this, repeating that she’s been with Derek for two years, how could he be different now? Victor is all, maybe he’s not who you thought he was? “Maybe he’s not who he thinks he is?”
Another SMASH CUT and it’s day light and Christie is walking down a proper sidewalk instead of in the middle of the street. Derek comes around the corner and slows down, calling to her, but she just gives him a look and keeps on walking. That’ll teach him, girl!
Derek tries to get out of the car and go after Christie but Willie ain’t having it (“I’m at the mercy of your sex glands, bud!”) because he doesn’t want to be late for homeroom. (??) Also, his hair is very flat. I guess the Huey Lewis look is out? Derek gives him A Look™ and Willie relents.
Jogging across the street to catch up with her, Derek attempts to find out what’s wrong but Christie isn’t having it. She didn’t call him back and proceeds to pointedly ask if Derek and the boys had fun the prior evening. “Victor told me all about it.” OH MY GOD YOU JUST SNITCHED, CHRISTIE. Derek tries to brush it off but Christie tells him not to bother lying. She knows he’s involved with this Brotherhood of Justice. She wants to know why they targeted Pastey and Derek just huffs and tells her she doesn’t understand.
Well duh, she’s all wondering why he and the others are running around town like commandos, with their red hand prints, beating people up, and their shitty slogans/threats. She tells him she sees it as a joke and walks away, but Derek won’t give up. He says she’s making a big deal out of nothing and he can drive her back to school. Christie counters that Derek thinks everything is “just that easy”, he’s got a silver spoon in his mouth, and he’s gone too far in deciding he’s the judge, jury and executioner in town.
Christie begs him for an explanation but Derek just tells her she’s wrong and that he’ll see her around sometime. He walks away while she asks why he won’t talk to her, wants to know what he’s afraid of. Wrong words. “I’M NOT AFRAID OF ANYTHING OR ANYONE!”
Back in the car, Derek jams the stereo power button while Willie what’s up. “Just another chick who thinks she knows it all!” Derek complains. Willie turns off the music, trying to ask a serious question of his older brother. Derek initially gets all weird but Willie promises it’s not drug-related. “I wanna know if you’re in that Brotherhood of Justice.”
Well, instead of telling the truth, like he just insisted he always does, Derek deflects. Ugh. Willie tells him everyone’s talking about it, is impressed by it, and thinks Derek’s running it. Derek asks Willie if that’s what he thinks. “Yeah, kind of.” Derek then tells his brother it isn’t him. LIES. ALL LIES.
Willie then asks aloud if Derek thinks he’s too young to join the Brotherhood of Justice but Derek pulls a face and turns the stereo back on. SEE, MASSIVE REPERCUSSIONS AND CONSEQUENCES. The brothers arrive at school and lookie what we have here: the cops are back!
The sheriff is asking principal Grooteman (I am Groot!) what he said in his speech and principal Grooteman (I am Groot.) wants to know who told the sheriff about it. I dunno, everyone seems to know everything in this small fictitious town. Principal Grooteman (I am Groot?) reclassifies it as a “special address” to the senior class, which is full of “special kids, bright kids, leaders!” he insists. Um. The sheriff points out that one of the victims will be sucking his meals through a straw for the next two months and that just takes the wind right out of principal Grooteman’s (I am Groot!) sails.
“Knifed another one in the back.” “It wasn’t his back,” principal Grooteman (I AM GROOT!) sasses and the sheriff is pissed. The sheriff wants to know if he’s defending the perpetrators and principal Grooteman (I am Groot!) says there’s no proof they go to Santa Lucia. (??) (Dude, what the fuck?) The sheriff asks calmly for a list of names that might be involved with the Brotherhood of Justice and boy, principal Grooteman (I am Groot?) doesn’t like that. The sheriff reminds him the cops are investigating two felonies at this point so cooperation would be helpful.
But no. Principal Grooteman (I am Groot!) won’t cooperate. He “hears” the kids talking, insists that they like what’s going on and are totally down with this Brotherhood of Justice’s renegade justice crap. He still insists that the Brotherhood of Justice can’t be proven to be made up of students from Santa Lucia. (Oh COME ON.) Principal Grooteman (I am Groot.) personally believes they aren’t. (OH COME ON, AGAIN.) He says he asked for help and the results aren’t in yet. (What?) He tells the sheriff he’s not ready to call it quits.
Lord help us.
In a classroom, a teacher is erasing the chalk message “WE’RE WATCHING YOU!! THE BROTHERHOOD OF JUSTICE”. Seems like there’s copycats spawning because I’m not sure Mule is smart enough to know what chalk is, let alone how to spell. Students file in and take their seats, Asshole Jock included, but suddenly we hear a motorcycle engine revving. Asshole Jock jumps up and yells out a window, watching someone steal his motorcycle. Ha ha!
Apparently yelling isn’t very effective, because the bike is gone. Asshole Jock bitches to Derek and Mule at lunch that the bike is probably halfway to Tijuana (he calls it little TJ, though) and Derek is like, why there? (Um, seriously??) Asshole Jock, who’s also bitched that the cops won’t help him, insists he saw a Mexican steal his motorcycle. (Impossible from the distance he was at. Your racism is showing, you asshole.) Somehow “black hair and a sun tan in mid October” is how you know it’s a Mexican.
Derek calls a 4pm meeting at their SOOPER SEKRIT CAROUSEL HQ. Mule promises Asshole Jock they’ll get the bike back, flashes the Brotherhood of Justice fist, while SAYING “BROTHERHOOD” ALOUD (oh my god.)
Over at the carousel, Mule has brought himself a fucking lawn chair to sit in while the others pile in around the carousel’s inner center. Asshole Jock’s bike is custom, and
Curly Mullet Scott wants to know what they’re getting into if they attempt to retrieve it. Somewhere in the script I lost the fact that there’s apparently a place were the Mexicans hang out after they steal shit (??) and the Brotherhood of Justice is going there. Apparently it is a “jungle”. But Mule reassures the boys”we’re Great White Hunters”. OH MY GOD. PLEASE DIE. (Announcer Voice: “Sadly, Mule did not.”)
Oh, I finally learn that Asshole Jock is named Collin. He didn’t insure the bike and he doesn’t expect the cops to get it, so Les tells him that the ball is in his court. Instead of making a decision, Collin asks Derek his opinion. (DUDE GROW A PAIR AND MAKE A CHOICE.) Derek basically decides they’re going in, which makes
Curly Mullet Scott real worried, because “these guys carry guns!” Mule wants to know why the Brotherhood of Justice can’t, and Derek’s all “ME, I SAID NO”. But then he basically makes Collin decide if they’re going after the bike or abandoning it.
Ow, my head.
Of course Collin chooses to go after it. Derek says they’ll go tonight, and Les chimes in, “righteous.”
We reopen on the 1967 Oldsmobile Cutlass pulling up to a stop sign. It’s dark out, the headlights illuminating the way. Les asks if anyone wants to bail. All six members of the Brotherhood of Justice are crammed in the convertible, headed to regain Collin’s motorcycle. To set the stage, we move to another part of town, full of low rider cars cruising past a nightclub, people lined up on the sidewalk.
The car full of nervous looking white boys sticks out like a sore thumb.
As they cruise the main drag, a car speeds up and passes them on the left, pulling in front of the Cutlass. Someone’s taken an interest. Mule drives steadily but nothing happens. Surprisingly, Les is all “no one’s bothering us!” but Collin is negative, saying “Not yet!” in return.
Curly Mullet Scott is also a Negative Nancy, repeating “this was a stupid idea!”
The car in front slows, forcing Mule to slow down also, allowing the car behind them to pull up along side on their left. A Hispanic man in the white car compliments Mule’s ride, then asks if he wants to trade. In the back seat, there’s more guys, some wearing bandanas but one is wearing a blue one and the other is wearing red, so I don’t know who the fuck researched “gangs” for this but there you go.
The Brotherhood of Justice is directed to pull up into a driveway, though Mule isn’t too thrilled. Derek directs him to follow orders. It’s more of a dirt lot then a fucking driveway, but whatever. The front car pulls in, trapping the Cutlass between it and the white car.
In the back seat, Les withdraws a gun from an inner pocket of his trench coat. You asshole. That’s going to make shit worse. Collin asks if he’s crazy, which draws everyone else’s attention to Les’s dumb ass move. Ugh.
The Cutlass is now surrounded by extras dressed like someone told the costume department, “get me whatever Hispanic gangs wear these days!” The assumed leader strokes his fingers along the Cutlass before rounding to stand beside Derek’s door. He asks if Derek attends Santa Lucia, is a football player? Derek confirms and learns the leader also attended Santa Lucia. It’s a small world after all, indeed.
Oh, it was going so well, until the leader asks what they’re doing on this side of town. Derek explains they’re searching for a lost motorcycle, and of course the leader takes offense, asking why they think a Mexican stole the bike. Collin opens his big fat mouth and insists he saw the thief but then admits he couldn’t stop him because he was “too far away”. THEN HOW THE FUCK DID YOU SEE HIM, YOU GODDAMN RACIST ASSHOLE??
Leader dude seizes on this admission, pointing out all the stereotypical things these rich white boys associate with Mexicans: greasy black hair, Chinos, shiny shoes, brown skin, tattoos. Les gets sassy and adds the thief was eating a taco and had chili sauce dripping down his shirt. Oi. At least everyone else in the Cutlass remains silent.
Informed they need to go home, Mule shoots back, asking what if they don’t. A dude behind the leader pops up, repeating exactly what Mule taunted the two guys in the back of the patrol car with just the other day: they’re going to put them in a helicopter, go up, then drop them like the sacks of sewage they are. OH BURRRRNNNNNNNNN, BABY!
Leader tells them to leave, to stop playing cops, no one there stole the goddamn bike. And never return, unless you intend to be friends. (?????) Everyone disperses back to the two cars, leaving the pansy ass white boys to be thankful nothing happened to them. Derek admits they made a mistake (um, no, COLLIN made a fucking mistake, you jerks jumped on it) and they better leave before making things worse. Les believes the Hispanics are lying but Derek isn’t having it. Collin FINALLY admits he could be wrong about who stole it, looking like he just wet his tighty whities. This whole trip was for naught and just proved how NOT powerful they really are outside this ridiculous game they’re playing.
The Brotherhood of Justice rolls up to a darkened and closed carousel building (AGAIN, HOW IS THIS REMOTELY POSSIBLE???), the members spilling slowly out of the Cutlass. Les storms off but then Derek reminds him the gun is in the back seat, grabbing him as he reaches for it. “Next time, leave it at home, Les.” Derek warns. Collin claims they needed it and Les just came prepared. Uh huh.
Mule chimes in as well, which sets Derek off. He’s appalled after he told his friends no weapons, no guns, that they out right disobeyed that order! Les calls Derek chicken, that they could have had the Mexicans at gun point and got the bike back. (??) Derek pins Les down to the car, giving him a dark look, before storming off. Les gets all antsy and upset, stalking over to the rolled down door of the carousel building, while Derek walks away and the others start to pile back into the Cutlass.
Mule tries to get Les to come to the car but Les is having a freak out, shaken by Derek’s rough handling and being told he can’t play with guns. The scene fades to black as Les bangs his hands against the metal garage door. Props to Billy Zane for overselling this, like always.
The scene opens in a restaurant that isn’t Delmonico’s (oh my god, fictional Santa Lucia has a second eatery!) where Derek is sitting. Mule waves to him from outside before coming in and joining him. Mule has been looking for Derek, since the fallout at the Boardwalk. Sure. Sure.
Apparently Mule is upset that Derek hit Les. (Wait, what?? *rewinds* HE DIDN’T FUCKING HIT HIM. He just grabbed him by the front of the shirt and slammed him into the car. What the hell, Mule?!) Derek shakes his head and mutters about it all being over and done with. Les is emotionally unstable and has a cache of weapons, Mule. Derek is right. End this bullshit now.
But no, Mule isn’t having it, reminding Derek of a football game they played the prior year, where they were down at the half but came back to win. His point is Derek is the heart and soul of the team, as its quarterback, and the same is basically true for the Brotherhood of Justice.
Dude, Derek, RUN!
Mule tells Derek it’s his decision, after basically laying a guilt trip and using peer pressure to keep Derek in the Brotherhood of Justice. Great going, asshole. We’re left without a decision, as my one and only friend SMASH CUT sends us to the school parking lot the next day. We can see a cop car coming down the long winding entrance road, people are talking off-camera, but we can hear them.
The camera pans out a little and uh oh, someone has smashed up two low rider cars parked in the lot! The windows are busted, the tires are slashed, and someone’s spray painted “The Brotherhood Lives” in giant block letters along the side of one, and there’s the crappy red hand print calling card, too. The cops immediately drive over, as some girl is heard asking, “who’s car is that?!” Honey, I don’t know.
Curly Mullet Scott and Derek are walking through the parking lot, Derek demonstrating a football pass, when Curly Mullet Scott points out the damaged cars and the police investigating it. Christie appears as well, carrying text books to make it look like she actually attends school (Lori Loughlin was around 22 when this aired in 1986; so was Keanu. Sutherland was probably 19, and quit school when was he was 16, so…)
From that cliff hanger ending that left us unclear about Derek’s decision, I’m guessing based on the “LIVES” part of the spray painted message that he called it dead. Somebody didn’t like that answer. I’m betting that somebody is Les.
Principal Grootemat (I am Groot.) is observing from his window, clutching his Nerf basketball as he walks over and dunks it into the hoop. Are we supposed to take that as a metaphor? He sits in his desk chair and the camera frames tightly on a photograph on his desk. It’s a picture of him and his wife, a smaller oval frame holds a photo of his daughter. Rubbing his face with his hands, principal Grootemat (I am Groot?) seems to come to a decision and picks up the telephone.
We never see who he calls; we just SMASH CUT to an assembly. Ugh. From the looks of it, it seems to be the senior class yet again, not the entire student body. Curious. Mule looks worried; behind him, Les (dressed in black and wearing thick black hipster frames) is joking with Collin.
Curly Mullet Scott and Derek listen intently as principal Grootemat (I am Groot!) drones away about how he asked them to give “thought” (aka: TAKE MATTERS INTO THEIR OWN HANDS) about the problems they’ve experienced at Santa Lucia High School.
Principal Grootemat (I am Groot.) covers his ass by saying he didn’t personally ask them to take matters into their own hands, individually or collectively (um, pretty sure you fucking implied it pretty blatantly, dude) then he admits it was implied. Oh, wow, should have finished watching instead of stopping to type that.
OH LOOKIE THERE. Victor and Christie are sitting together!
Again covering his ass by saying he doesn’t know if anyone in the room is responsible for the recent incidents, principal Grootemat (I am Groot?) hopes they know that violence doesn’t solve violence. (Yeah, I can tell you six names of boys in the assembly that didn’t learn that in kindergarten.) Principal Grootemat (I am Groot!) basically calls what the Brotherhood of Justice has been doing “help” but decries it as “wrong” in the same breath. Ugh.
Vigilantism is BAD and STOP DOING IT. Oh, and it’s a crime, too. A little too late, principal Grootemat (I am Groot.)
And that’s when the hammer comes down. Principal Grootemat (I am Groot?) has hired a private security team to patrol campus starting Monday. I can’t say this announcement is meant with silence, because there’s background chatter, but Derek, Mule, and
Curly Mullet Scott all share worried looks.
Over in the school weight room, the Brotherhood of Justice meet up (what, they couldn’t get into the carousel building?) Most of them look subdued but Les is all “it’s not over until we say it’s over!” Mule insists they’re the only form of justice left and Barnwell basically says principal Grootemat (I am Groot!) is covering his ass by publicly condemning what they’ve been doing. Derek isn’t sure they should continue (okay now I really don’t know if he called it dead or not, ugh) and Les is real pissed that Derek is being wishy-washy about the Brotherhood of Justice.
Les doesn’t care that violence begets violence begets violence. The list still exists and he’s continuing. He gets real angry with Derek and tells him principal Grootemat (I am Groot?) started this but he (Les) is going to finish it. Basically it’s a fucking coup. Les is taking over as leader and the rest are either in or out. Well, at least it’s a bloodless coup? Les leaves, having informed the rest to be at the carousel building if they’re still in.
Barnwell and Collin make their choices to stay in, but Mule (once again) asks where Derek stands. Derek answers when he knows he’ll tell Mule. Mule can’t handle not having his fearless leader, so he leaves.
Curly Mullet Scott and Derek are the only ones left behind and they seem to be unsure of what to do.
Oh, Smash Cut, you compete me.
It’s dark and the lights are bright around the Delmonico’s sign. Derek is sitting at a table, alone, and there’s a couple of surf boards parked beside the juke box. Weird decor for an Italian restaurant, but whatever, surfing is a huge thing in
Santa Cruz Santa Lucia. The place isn’t very busy at all. Derek watches four… I guess we’ll call them junior high students… walk in and take a table. All four boys notice Derek and look awestruck. One even whispers, “give him the sign of the Brotherhood!”
They make fists and put them together in the center of the table, to show Derek they A) know he’s a member of the Brotherhood of Justice and B) think he’s totally kick ass. Derek stares and it’s hard to describe the range of emotions that run across his face but the last one is certainly unhappiness at what he sees.
We smash cut to a huge cabinet full of rifles, panning down to a pile of newspaper where someone is carefully scooping black powder with Popsicle sticks into a small glass jar. It’s Les! And he’s building a bomb! And the lamp on the desk is made out of a powder horn. What the hell, who decorated this office?! Also, wouldn’t it have been easier to just pour the powder into the jar? This is all very staged and theatrical.
The screen fades to black.
Man, I don’t even know how to describe how time works in this film, but it’s the next day. We open again on Derek’s fancy house, his red convertible parked in the driveway. Willie is failing at his math homework as Derek walks into the kitchen. Dude, get a damn glass, stop drinking milk from the carton!
Derek is too distracted and running late to help his little brother. Willie’s math homework is due “tomorrow morning”, so I’m gonna go ahead and guess this is Sunday afternoon. Willie asks if Derek is going out with Christie, only for Derek to confirm they broke up “all the way”. (Can’t say I’ve ever heard that as a reference to a breakup…) Willie is sad, because he liked Christie.
Walking down his front walk, Derek is surprised to see
Curly Mullet Scott show up. Curly Mullet Scott has come to tell Derek he’s quitting the Brotherhood of Justice but dude is hella nervous about saying it. Geez. Curly Mullet Scott is upset about how the low riders were busted up just because the owners were Mexicans. Wow, someone finally realizes racism = bad! I didn’t expect it to be Curly Mullet Scott but progress is progress. Curly Mullet Scott is afraid of the rest of the guy’s reactions to his quitting but Derek assures him he’ll take care of it. Curly Mullet Scott asks if Derek is staying or going. Derek says he has to stay, he started it. Well, kiss Harvard goodbye, Derek. Curly Mullet Scott seems disappointed (me, too) at Derek’s decision.
SMASH CUT to the promenade, where the rest of the guys are crowded onto a bench, NOT LOOKING SUSPICIOUS IN TRENCH COATS WHAT SO EVER. Barnwell asks how late Derek and
Curly Mullet Scott are. Mule says a half hour. I think you’ve done been stood up, boys. But Mule insists Derek and Curly Mullet Scott will show up, so Barnwell decides to give a run down on the new intelligence he’s gathered, while they continue to wait.
Seems Pastey, still a target, has had his license restored and served all his time (??) and has also purchased a new car, which Barnwell has seen. Les is tired of waiting and sitting around talking, he wants action! Mule still wants to wait so Les goes back to playing with one of his knives.
Derek, on the other hand, has gone to Christie’s house to explain himself. He apologizes for being an asshole when she didn’t want to talk then demanded answers. She wants him to stop the Brotherhood of Justice before it gets worse (oh, honey, just wait…) and she’s convinced the gang will listen to Derek. Derek isn’t so sure. He also refuses to rat them out, in the event they won’t listen to him.
Nothing makes sense any longer to Derek. He asks to pick Christie up later but she quietly shoots him down, saying she’s already made plans. (YAY!) He starts to leave but Christie tries to tell Derek that whatever principal Grootemat (I am Groot.) was asking of the senior class, it wasn’t this bullshit with the Brotherhood of Justice. She again asks him to stop. Yet again someone asks Derek what he’s going to do. And, yet again, we Smash Cut away to…somewhere we’ve never been before.
Pastey, carrying a six pack of beer, appears with two other guys, telling them his father bought him a 1975 MG B, a little red convertible. Yeah, and he’s getting drunk and gonna drive it. Fantastic. Behind a wall, the Brotherhood of Justice watches from the shadows. They pull on the ski masks and Barnwell tells Mule to “light it up”. That sounds bad.
Ever the resourceful asshole, Les has fashioned a Molotov cocktail, which Mule lights the… I dunno, wick? I’m not sure that’s a rag. Whatever. He lights it and Les stands up and tosses it, but there’s NO FUCKING WAY that hit the car. Also because there’s a blatant edit where the car just bursts into flames. Pastey and his friends are shocked, JUST SHOCKED, I tell you. He even drops his beers. The Brotherhood of Justice has to drag Les away from admiring his handiwork. Pastey orders his friend to call the fire department then cries for someone to “do something”.
We move over to Derek casually driving along when the fire truck races past in the other direction. We see the fire truck arrive on scene, clusters of teenagers causally hanging out RIGHT NEXT TO THE BURNING CAR (me: “You idiots.”) and what’s that? Derek has followed them to the scene! He pulls his car right into the group of kids (??) just as one of the car’s tires pops from the heat. Derek asks a bystander whose car is now toast and learns it’s Pastey’s. He immediately returns to his convertible as the fire fighters begin to hose down the still burning MG B.
The Brotherhood of Justice is celebrating their latest success, drinking beers and smoking, slamming into each other chest first. Barnwell is so mad he didn’t bring his camera to record video, he would have even added special effects! (??) Mule gets their attention and decides they need to do something for Derek. (REMEMBER THAT GIANT INVISIBLE ARROW I ALLUDED TO THAT WAS POINTING AT A VERY SPECIFIC THREAT?) Derek’s hurting and he needs some help. Barnwell is all “that geek Victor is moving in on him!”
Geek? Geek?! EXCUSE ME, YOU GODDAMN NERD.
Les is all I wanted to add Victor to the list but we didn’t and now we’re just standing around talking about him. Collin says it’s not too late. Mule says no one gets added unless they all agree. Well, all four of you fuckers are standing there, vote on it. Mule and Barnwell protest, Collin says Derek would never agree (um, he’s not there, moron) and Barnwell says Derek felt targeting Victor to be too personal.
Finally coming to the same conclusion I just made in the previous paragraph, that there’s only four of them now, Les puts it to a vote. Barnwell agrees an exception to the rule could be made. Collin wants Mule to call it, since obviously he and Les are all for it but yet again we don’t get an answer, as this movie has to build drama somehow.
Derek is speeding across town while the Brotherhood of Justice are cracking beers and hanging out yet again in the carousel building. (me: “I hate all of you so much right now.”) They’re all pretty drunk at this point. Derek pulls in and joins them, and everyone’s real happy. Until he tells them
Curly Mullet Scott has quit and is wisely at home. Les calls Curly Mullet Scott “chicken”.
“Santa Lucia is safer tonight, because you torched Pastey’s car and trashed some low riders’ wheels!” Derek gets some good sarcasm in for a change. Les justifies their actions because Pastey and the Mexican’s are “a part of it”. (??) They’re cleaning up the town. Derek calls Les out for being the real problem. Oh, snap!
It all dissolves into an argument, naturally. Mule can’t understand Derek’s change of heart. But Collin points out they’ve taken care of Derek. A moment of confusion, particularly on Derek’s part, until they reveal they’ve taken care of Victor Parks (me: “Parks? That‘s his surname? ARE YOU KIDDING ME, WRITERS??”) They inform Derek it’s retaliation for Victor moving in on Christie (I dunno, MAYBE SHE CHOSE VICTOR, you assholes) and Derek reminds them whatever goes down between him and Christie is their business, not for the Brotherhood of Justice to interfere with. (me: “…a little late but nice, Derek.”)
Barnwell wants to tell Derek his surprise. Mule explains the four of them voted Victor onto the hit list. Derek is mad. Les mentions they did it to help Derek by “putting a hurt on the man”. Long story short, they wired a bomb to the 1950 Mercury Coupe. BOOM!
Les goes into more detail, saying it’s a trip wire setup. Victor opens the door, bang, “he loses his front end!” Everyone laughs but Derek, who punches Les right in his smug face. A bit of a scuffle happens but Collin and Mule separate Derek and Les. Derek jumps the metal fence and runs to his car, Mule trying to stop him. But no amount of convincing works and Derek drives away.
Yes, please hurry up and save Victor, Derek.
Derek speeds across town, racing to Delmonico’s. Apparently it’s already closed for the night, a waitress wiping down a counter as Victor prepares to leave. He takes his keys from a hook and heads out into the parking lot. Derek is still speeding, even crossing into the oncoming lanes to get around a pair of cars blocking his path. (Yeah they’re gonna draw out these last few minutes of the film. It’s called suspense.)
Victor is in the parking lot, but Derek nearly wipes out a jaywalker, fishtailing so badly he has to stomp the breaks before getting clear. Honestly, I am surprised Derek doesn’t have a car phone. He’s rich. What the hell. Victor is taking an awfully long time to get in his car. Ugh.
He reaches in the open window to pop the trunk, putting his work clothes inside, just as Derek comes racing into the parking lot. Derek is honking the horn like mad, getting Victor’s attention just as the dude is about to open the driver’s side door. Screaming for Victor to get away, Derek tells him it’s wired but Victor thinks it’s another joke.
“Fine, I’ll amuse you,” Victor answers, putting his hands in the air. Okay, writers, what the fuck. The line should have been “I’ll humor you.” Ugh. Victor backs away from the door, from the car in general. Derek immediately begins looking for the trip wire, Victor telling him this whole thing isn’t funny. That’s when Victor sees the shoddy bundle of wires sticking out from under the front left fender.
“You put a damn bomb in my car?!” he snarls and we get a taste of Jack Bauer for a brief moment. Derek pulls out a pocket knife and tells Victor to back up, as he crawls under the car and proceeds to cut the wires on the pipe bomb. And that’s when we get a brief taste of Officer Jack Traven of the LAPD Bomb Squad.
My god, they both played well-known characters named Jack, didn’t they.
Pipe bomb disarmed, Derek crawls back out from under the car. He directs Victor to call the cops and tell them the bomb is by the oil pan and he doesn’t know what’s in it. Well, duh, let’s ask Les. Victor hurries inside to do just that, as Derek gets in his car and drives away.
Eventually he stops and puts the car in park and it’s not immediately clear where he is. Until some random sirens blare and we realize Derek has driven to the police station, to turn himself and the others in. THE BROTHERHOOD OF JUSTICE IS OFFICIALLY OVER.
The film ends with black and white stills of Les, Collin, and Mule in handcuffs, being arrested and put into the back of squad cars. I’m sure this was an artistic choice to convey the seriousness of the matter but it just amuses me, it’s so cheesy. The credits begin to roll and Mule goes quietly but Collin puts up a bit of a sneering fight while being loaded in the back seat.
Curly Mullet Scott is the fourth to be taken into custody, handcuffed and put in the back of another squad car. He at least looks remorseful. Eventually he is joined by Barnwell. The final images are of Derek, not handcuffed, getting willingly into the back of the squad car. Kiss Harvard goodbye, Derek. But at least you made the right decision before your idiot friends killed someone.
Finally, the end! And that’s an hour and a half I’ll never get back.
How things never change and time is a flat circle and this vigilante bullshit is just a disguise for bullying. Though, I think the internet has taken it all to a new level. Really, though, this movie may be terrible but it’s kind of an accurate take on shit still happening in America.
You’re wondering how much of the fictional events were based in reality, right? Well, there was a pipe bomb. Two, actually, and both exploded. The Legion of Doom had attempted to tape one of the bombs to a kid’s bedroom window but it was too heavy, so they put it in his car instead. The car wasn’t totally destroyed, the kid wasn’t hurt, and he actually drove it to school every day, to show he wasn’t afraid of the morons.
Stuff left out of the movie: killing animals, the White Power / neo-Nasism ideals the group took on. Really worse racism, with links to the KKK. It’s a TV movie; you can’t cram it all in, viewers couldn’t handle it and television censors would have nixed it anyway. In today’s climate, I’m sure a lot more would have made it into the script, particularly if this had been made for a cable network and not a broadcast network. (This aired on ABC. Ironic, Sutherland’s latest television show for ABC just got axed.)
There’s a lot of ambiguous reference to fellow students backing the Brotherhood of Justice in the film. In reality, the Legion of Doom’s tactics polarized their school and made it a war zone, where students would pick fights with each other. Also, the Legion of Doom’s targets were of the more personal bent: whoever they felt didn’t “fit in” with their idealized standard was on the list. Tolerance of differences, am I right?
Really, the televised version doesn’t serve enough of a portrait to impart the truth: these boys were domestic terrorists.
The members of the Legion of Doom eventually faced 33 indictments, 17 of which were felony charges. They were removed from school, forced out of participation in graduation ceremonies, and eventually four were sentenced to thirty days in jail and ten years of probation. Two others were given five years of probation, and another was given fourteen days of jail time with ten years of probation. All were ordered to pay about $8,000 in restitution, write 1,000-word reports on the ”value of probation” and spend up to 200 hours in community service.
Yeah, I’m sure they all learned their lesson.
Brotherhood of Justice isn’t one of those movies you find yourself watching on repeat. I think I’ve made it through the whole movie maybe three times. It’s not funny, it’s not the best script, and it’s not what I think of as “comfort watching”, even if two of my favorite actors are in it. It’s a time capsule of a different era, that’s for sure, and it makes me sad to remember how things were more simple then yet pretty much the same in terms of awful humans doing awful things to their fellow humans.