|Written by||Lew Hunter|
|Directed by||Robert Michael Lewis|
|Music by||Bruce Broughton|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Executive producer(s)||Arthur Fellows|
|Production location(s)||William S. Hart High School in Newhall, Santa Clarita, California|
|Running time||96 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Fellows-Keegan Company|
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Television Distribution|
|Picture format||Color (Metrocolor)|
|Original release||March 3, 1982|
The Cameron family seems, on the surface, to be the perfect family, but things are not as they seem. Their two teenage children, Scott and Sandy, fall in with the wrong crowds at their high school and eventually become involved with drug experimentation. Sandy, after ingesting angel dust made by her boyfriend in the school's chemistry lab, jumps through a glass window of the school (purposely cutting her arms with the cut glass in the process) and is subsequently paralyzed from the fall.
A caring idealistic guidance counselor, Eileen Phillips, sees the problem that is going on in the school and, after other tragic incidents involving two other students (one of which involves Scott and his girlfriend smoking drugs and crashing their car off a cliff) and when no one else on the staff is willing to do anything about it, takes the steps to deal with and confront the problem. The aftermath of this tragedy makes Scott and Sandy's parents realize that even their "perfect" kids can be affected by drugs, especially after Scott has a violent reaction and goes into the hospital.
At a school assembly, Eileen Phillips storms in and confronts the students about the increasing drug use, sending a message to the crowd about the effects of what the drug problem is doing to the kids and the tragedies that resulted because of it.
- Diana Scarwid as Eileen Phillips
- Doug McKeon as Scott Cameron
- Helen Hunt as Sandy Cameron
- William Windom as Dr. Jarvis
- Art Hindle as Stan
- Tom Atkins as John Cameron
- Norman Alden as Coach
- Tricia Cast as Susan Garber
- Sam Bottoms as Ken Baynes
- Diane Ladd as Carol Cameron
- Grant Cramer as Steve
- Michele Greene as Julie Jordan
- Terry Alexander as Robert Walsh
- Joyce Brothers as Mrs. Watson (as Dr. Joyce Brothers)
- Aggie Terry as Cindy
- Katherine Kelly Lang as Mary
- Susan McClung as Sarah
- Clayton Rohner as Monte
- Jennifer Parsons as Olivia (as Jenny Parsons)
- Mykelti Williamson as Jack (as Mykel T. Williamson)
- Jane Milmore as Jane
- Curt Ayers as Jesse
- Michele Laurita as Diana
- Glenn-Michael Jones as Al
- Joey Green as Howard
- Michael Cummings as Brad Davis
- Viola Kates Stimpson as Grandmother
- The theme song to "Desperate Lives" was written and sung by Rick Springfield.
- Some of the movie was filmed at William S. Hart High School in Newhall, Santa Clarita, California.
Desperate Lives was released on DVD on April 21, 2010.